006 SEO: Luke Carthy explains Technical SEO 101

by April Buencamino-dy

Luke Carthy started his SEO career client side, then after being invited to speak at MozCon 2019 (oh yes!) he decided to go it alone. He now spends his days helping his clients deliver sustainable eCommerce growth with SEO and CRO. One of the areas he regularly sees making big changes to performance is getting technical SEO right – so it was a no – brainer to get him on the show to help all you improve your SEO performance.

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About Luke

Luke got started on ebay. He spent some of his pocket money during college selling HDMI cables he purchased on Alibaba for an awesome markup on the marketplace and was completely hooked.

All the skills from working on that transitioned him to his SEO career. 

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO is the process of making it as simple as possible for search engines to access, crawl and understand a website as easily as possible.

Luke likens SEO on your site to setting up a storefront. Your goal is to make everything as appealing as possible and he points out  that technical SEO doesn’t have to be difficult, it just has to be smart.

Luke says that a good place to start, especially for eCommerce is to understand if the number of pages indexed for your business are appropriately proportionate. 

If you have a 1000 projects with 50 categories and 50 blogs for roughly 1,100 pages and Google returns over a million pages — you have a problem.

Similarly, if Google returns a low number like 50 — you also have a problem. To see how many pages are showing on search the following —site:yourURL

Dealing with Small Number of Returns

The first thing to do is crawl using an SEO tool — Luke favors ScreamingFrog.

This will give you an indication of what is going on. It could be anything from your robot.txt index to a speed problem. 

Dealing with a Large Number of Returns

If you have a lot more pages showing up relative to your site, it might have something happening with filters or similar that is diluting your SEO performance.

eCommerce businesses might think it’s better to have more pages—but with too many results it becomes difficult for Google to create hierarchy.

Finding the Happy Medium

Many websites get worried about the blow back from too many facets, filters or other, but Luke says that you miss out on opportunities for long tail keywords.

The middle ground is to use facets, but not too many. If, for instance, you have color and size as facets on their own that’s fine — but creating a new facet for that combination will begin to spin out into the millions.

Not all facets are created equal. Think about what the user wants and what the user is searching for. Theoretically, technical SEO is straight forward but can be difficult to figure out. 

Long Tail Keywords

Long Tail is the great way for the ‘little guy’ to compete with major marketplaces and huge brands. Thinking through the whole eCommerce funnel is the best way to get in front of your customer.

High quality content is a great way to get into searches that are competitive. If you need help generating content, use the search bar and see what it tells you that people are looking for. 

Site Search and SEO

According to Luke, site search is unloved and underrated. First off, it tells you what people are looking at so it’s keyword gold. Secondly, not letting search engines crawl search URL is beneficial since having it unmonitored can create unforeseen consequences.

Newbie Advice: Always start with what your customer wants and get on Twitter and follow SEO experts. They are incredibly helpful and vocal on Twitter.

A great resource is ScreamingFrog

Insider Tips

If we’ve inspired someone to take their first step with SEO Marketing – what do they need to know to give themselves the best chance of success?

Google is ultimately designed to connect people  to what they want. Site speed is important, but Luke says it’s crucial to have good content besides. 

Once you’ve started of course you’ve got to ‘keep optimising’! So what’s your favourite way to improve SEO marketing performance?

Look at the Data—sometimes, to be good at SEO, start again with what businesses and customers need. Understanding the holistic picture wins the long game.

It’s impossible to improve our marketing unless we’re monitoring the performance – but the list of stuff we could monitor can be overwhelming. So what, for you is the number one SEO marketing KPI?

  1. Revenue
  2. Organic Users—not just organic sessions. Keep an eye on trends to understand global issues that might be influencing your numbers. Google trends is a great place to start digging into that.

Crystal ball time – what’s coming up in the next 6-12 months that we should be getting ready for in SEO marketing?

Buying products without ever having to actually go onto a website.

Interview Links

Luke on Social media:

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