Technical SEO

Google's Search Relations Team Urges Focus on Technical SEO Basics Over Trends

Shahid Maqbool

By Shahid Maqbool
On Nov 23, 2023

Google's Search Relations Team Urges Focus on Technical SEO Basics Over Trends

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on getting the basics of technical SEO right first.

  • Look beyond just traffic numbers to see if visitors are actually engaging with your content.

  • Create content that gives real value to visitors by providing useful information that helps them solve problems or achieve goals.

In a podcast last week, Gary Illyes, John Mueller and Martin Splitt stressed the importance of optimizing the technical aspects of websites.

They said that many site owners get caught up in using trendy tactics to improve search engine results.

However, basics like site speed, accessibility for Google's systems and quality content writing tend to have more impact.

The team reminded website managers that if Google cannot easily access their site, rankings will suffer no matter what else they do. Fixing technical problems should come before trying flashy new SEO strategies.

Why Technical SEO Matters

Technical SEO relates to how a site is built and structured to facilitate crawling and indexing by search engines. It involves things like site architecture, server configuration, internal linking structures and code quality.

As Gary Illyes of Google's Search Relations team explains, technical deficiencies can severely restrict a website's potential in SEO and search results:

If Googlebot cannot reach your site, or rendering fails miserably, or there are no tokens (words) on the site or a page, then there’s not that much that Google can do for you.

Martin agreed, stating that technical SEO is still important – it’s like all of those basics.

He suggested starting troubleshooting efforts with a site's homepage, as search engines view this as the most important page.

When technical issues get overlooked, it can lead to serious problems like site indexing failures, rendering errors or huge drops in organic traffic and rankings. Getting the fundamentals right is crucial.

Why You Should Look Beyond Traffic

Web traffic has become one of the most widely used metrics for gauging SEO success. However, Mueller warned against focusing solely on aggregate traffic numbers:

I sometimes feel it’s misleading to just purely focus on the traffic.

He recounted sites that were attracting lots of low-quality, irrelevant search traffic around generic keywords.

When that low-value traffic eventually declined, overall traffic metrics became skewed and made the site's performance seem worse than it was.

The key is to analyze traffic quality in addition to volume. Metrics like bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration can determine whether your content is actually engaging visitors rather than just attracting them.

Additionally, drilling down into keyword and landing page data can show if traffic is coming from relevant searches and quality pages instead of thin or irrelevant ones.

If the declined traffic was unrelated to your core content and offerings, its loss shouldn't be alarming.

In addition to strong technical SEO, sites need useful, engaging content that delivers real value to visitors. Without this, long-term success in organic search isn't sustainable.

As Illyes put it:

What if quality is actually simpler than most people think? What if it’s about writing the thing that will help people achieve whatever they need to achieve when they come to the page?

Instead of chasing volume for the sake of volume, focus on addressing search intent and satisfying user needs.

Provide comprehensive, in-depth resources around topics people are searching for. Include actionable advice and tangible takeaways they can implement.

Here is the link to the full Podcast.

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