Why you Need a Developer for SEO
Why do you need extra web development resource for SEO? It’s no secret that SEO pros have been asking for more dev resource over the years, here’s why.
Google’s Crusade to Disempower the Common Webmaster
It’s no lie, a general webmaster used to have more ‘Google power’ than they have now. Meta keywords held real page-relevancy weighting (now they don’t), keywords mattered in Meta descriptions and page titles were almost always selected as SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position) snippet titles (now other text can be selected).
At first, schema and structured data almost guaranteed enhanced search listings. Nowadays, there’s no guarantee that schema code will generate featured snippets. In addition, Google can generate the same snippets (in some circumstances) from the general structure of a page, without needing schema deployment.
Webmasters used to be able to set their site’s ‘site-links’ manually, but now they cannot (instead they are generated). Many feel that Google’s ‘disavow’ tool was used to generate lists of spam networks for free, rather than to ‘truly’ protect webmasters against prior Google Penguin updates.
There’s no doubt that over time; Google moves away from ‘quick fixes’ which a webmaster can set or embed, and towards a more dynamic (or aggregate) manner of optimising search listings.
In other words, Google want their ranking positions to be organised via unbiased signals, rather than by items which are directly under a webmaster’s control.
This makes good sense. Google want to rank the best content for their search engine (rather than the most heavily SEO-optimised pages), so that it continues to provide the best value for users. If they fail in this venture, another search engine will quickly replace Google. This would mean that all of Google’s ad-revenue would dry up within weeks.
Be that as it may, it requires much more heavy lifting. Building out architecture to ‘naturally’ influence a myriad of signals, is much harder (and takes much broader and deeper expertise) than editing a Meta keywords tag.
Google’s Crusade Against ‘Low Barrier to Entry’ SEO
It’s not just junior web developers and webmasters who have been affected. Many SEO professionals have left the game since Google’s expectations grew exponentially higher.
Some old SEO tactics such as:
- Meta keyword tag stuffing
- Site-wide footer links
- Advertorial-based link-building
- Automated directory submissions
… have become completely ineffective.
Whereas you used to be able to employ one ‘SEO person’ to sit in a basement and process automated tasks, the art and science of the practice now takes a lot more strategy and thought.
This doesn’t mean that Google is being wicked or trying to make our lives unnecessarily hard. It simply means that SEO (as a marketing channel) has matured rapidly.
Back when the printing press was first invented, to probably wouldn’t have cost much to place and ad in a newspaper. Nowadays an ad (or sponsored column) in a well-read broadsheet would cost astronomical amounts. Does this mean that newspapers have become an invalid marketing platform? No, it doesn’t. It just means that the barrier to entry is higher. Only larger businesses will benefit from such engagements and the strategy behind such deployments must be solid.
As marketing channels mature, they become less input / output in terms of profit. As platforms learn the worth of their placements, competition makes those placements harder to obtain. This is as true on Google’s results as it is within print advertising.
Why does this Increase Development Work for SEO?
As previously mentioned, SEO is no longer an automated input / output vehicle for profit. Instead of simple automated tasks being run which are guaranteed to increase rankings, the modern SEO must think of strategies to boost direct and indirect ranking signals.
In other words, a modern SEO professional must align their activities with Google’s guidelines and algorithmic psychology (sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not). Google (as a search engine, at its core) may represent a series of mathematical algorithms and machine learning frontiers. But those algorithms were created by humans for strategic reasons. Why doesn’t Google like spammy links? Why does Google want us to ‘do something awesome’ which helps our websites to ascertain links naturally?
In modern times, SEO might revolve more around brainstorming a great charity campaign and related piece of online content, over paying someone to ‘build some links’. Google wants to be a reflection of what people are already looking for (that’s how Google’s listing remain relevant for users). Unless we ‘do something awesome’ in the real world, our reasoning for wanting to rank at the top of Google’s results is invalid (as our reasoning becomes an attempt to rank higher with minimal effort, rather than to rank higher as a result of something which should genuinely make our brand ‘popular’).
Creating the kind of content which performs well is no mean feat. A while back I wrote a post on Search News Central detailing the success of a piece of highly engineered deep content. It utilised design and styling facets which would have required a senior front-end designer and front-end developer. Because written content is ‘low barrier to entry’, it really has to stand out to be appreciated. We’re talking parallax scrolling backgrounds, thorough research from a specialist or research-qualified academic.
The other option, aside from producing individual winning pieces of content, is to make architectural efficiency games. How is the IA (Information Architecture) on your site? Is the utilisation of consolidated product listings reducing your ranking footprint? Can this be fixed in a way which doesn’t have an extremely heavy impact on UX (User Experience)? What compromise-architecture needs to be created (interlinking between product variations, faceted navigation / filtering overhaul, re-working of categories and nav) in order to achieve the desired results?
For a long time, it has been ‘good enough’ to choose between what’s right for SEO or what’s right for UX. These disciplines have unnecessarily been seen as competing forces. Within Google’s modern query-spaces, such interdepartmental friction will cost you a lot of money.
Now that results are so competitive, you need the best SEO and the best UX. Where there are conflicts, new and unique architectures need to be created in order to satisfy a 360 view of your site. None of that is possible, without a significant investment in web development.
‘Out of the box’ solutions will often either give you a design (and associated templates) which is solid for SEO or for design. But to make your site ‘optimal’, requires bespoke optimisation. You can hire all the SEO experts you like (and indeed, you need their help) – but if there’s no technical resource to achieve their vision, where will you end up?
There’s no point hiring an SEO person to outline to ‘optimum’ vision of your site architecture, if you’re then just going to pick an off-the-shelf solution which fails to tick all the SEO boxes. To make something optimal, tweaks and customisations have to be made. To be optimal is to be cutting edge, rather than installing ‘easy’ solutions and hoping for the best.
The more qualified and respected your SEO professional is, the more granular their insights and optimisation efforts will be (as they delve into the corners of your site, mining for more and more performance efficiencies). As a result of this, significant dev budget will be required for ‘serious’ SEO.
In 2022 after all of Google’s updates and refinements, ‘serious’ SEO is all that works.
What Does Optimisation Mean?
To make something optimal, or ‘to optimise’, means to make something the best it could possibly be.
The Oxford Reference defines optimisation as:
“The process of finding the best possible solution to a problem. In mathematics, this often consists of maximizing or minimizing the value of a certain function, perhaps subject to given constraints.”
If you think that you can reach an ‘optimal’ architecture, piece of content or digital PR (editorial) campaign without significant strategy and spend on developer resource, think again. It’s true that some people still find ‘quick wins’ in SEO, but those stories are few and far between. For every one of those stories, there are millions of ‘quick’ content pieces which were produced to no effect whatsoever.
For most, it will take a lot of strategy and hard graft to reach the top. But let’s look at an analogy.
Here’s the Red Bull F1 team:
They spend hours, days and months ‘optimising’ their vehicle to win each race. They scan and circle the vehicle making every weight reduction possible. Does this make the vehicle drastically faster? Certainly, it doesn’t make the vehicle 80% or even 60% faster. So why bother?
In F1, victory is measured in fractions of a second. They want to rank #1, so all of that effort for fractional gains (over time) is worth it.
That’s a lot like SEO. The gains you make may take a while to surface and they may involve a lot of work, but if you’re after that #1 spot… there’s no other way.
Hire Enough Development Resource for you SEO Vision
Whether you want to produce campaign-led work with individual winning pieces of content, or whether you want to leverage architectural efficiencies to make incremental gains (leading to the #1 Google rankings you desire) – you need significant developer resource.
Either you’ll need designers and developers to make your campaign content ‘more than just text’, or you’ll need developers to help implement and achieve your cutting edge, SEO-oriented architectural vision (without losing sight of UX).
Such work is going to involve custom coding and custom solutions. If it can be bought off the shelf, it’s not new and is therefore what everyone else already has. If that’s the case, it’s not optimum, so why did you hire an ‘optimisation’ specialist?
If you want to engage in optimisation (be that Search Engine Optimisation or otherwise) – you‘ll need to invest in the resource to ‘make things optimal‘.