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Some thoughts about technical SEO

As an SEO, one of my jobs is to get high-quality inbound links. That’s hard work. My preferred method is answering the requests from journalists which go out on the various networks designed to connect “journalists” with “experts.”

In the #WomenInTechSEO Slack channel, I recently asked the #digital-pr group what a decent interval was to wait before repurposing my carefully-crafted but seemingly unused replies to these writers. The discussion was — as too many things are these days — both surprising and not surprising at the same time.

To my delight, I received an elaborate “thanks, but no thanks” email from one of those writers today. So, now I’m sharing with you what I shared with them — because it’s good stuff even if they don’t need it for their article.

As a side note, if you have any feedback on why these answers weren’t usable, I’d love to know how to better communicate with writers via these services.

Technical SEO questions asked

  • What are the key technical SEO challenges that SaaS businesses commonly encounter?
  • Based on your experience, what are the most effective strategies and solutions to overcome these challenges?

Technical SEO answers

On the technical side, I find most of the challenges are the same as they are for any other website. Most issues originate from one of these four points: what platform is the website built on, how many tracking technologies are deployed, whether a company has on-staff SEO, and how much of a priority SEO is for the SaaS.

CMS and code platforms

Depending on where you are in your company’s growth cycle, which CMS (or other platform) you’re running on can help or hurt your SEO initiatives. I recently worked with an early stage start-up that is part of Y Combinator. Because of this connection, they are using another Y Combinator start-up’s CMS. It’s terrible for SEO (it’s not great for users either, but that’s not what this post is about). 

No matter what kind of amazing content this company produces to stand out in their very competitive space, their CMS is holding back their growth by not allowing things like: managing 301 redirects, no ability to add schema, bloated HTML code, no ability to set image srcsets for different device types, no ability to add preloads to resources, etc. SEO is not part of what the CMS start-up is concerned about and therefore anyone using their platform better not be. And now my client’s CTO has to figure out a CMS migration instead of focusing on building their product.

Tracking tools

Particularly true of WordPress, though not specifically a WordPress problem, marketers have a tendency to load up on tracking tools. Who can blame them? Their job success is determined by creating measurable results. The problem is these tools often get installed and abandoned without removing the code, these tools often overlap on functionality which creates excess page load, and some of these tools are simply terrible for website performance (they download 30 different resources once requested).

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No in-house staff minding SEO

I often find, unsurprisingly, that companies without any in-house staff are also poor performers. Phrases like “I know enough to be dangerous” when a marketer refers to their SEO knowledge mean opportunities are being missed, deeper connections aren’t understood, and the website can’t be as competitive. In many instances developers think they know enough about SEO to carry the company, but unless those developers are keeping up with all of the changes Google throws at us constantly, they don’t.

Lastly, if SEO isn’t prioritized at a company, usually because someone in management is not convinced that’s how to find new customers, SEO is going nowhere. In these situations the SEO technical deficit often gets ugly and a big clean-up is required to get the site back on track. That inertia is compounded by the inherent difficulty in making a business case for a lot of SEO initiatives. As a result, even the most obvious ideas — like page speed optimization — aren’t prioritized.

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© Jessyca Frederick 2023-2024

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