By Astrid Kramer|Jan. 11th, 2023 | first published under: https://www.hosteurope.de/blog/exx-1-000-seo-empfehlungen-und-welche-man-wirklich-umsetzen-sollte/
A client once said to me: “Before I met you, I had a problem. Now I have 30.” What he meant by that: Before my consultation, he knew that he had a massive problem in the area of SEO. After the page analysis, he knew 30 specific errors that now needed to be fixed, some quite fundamental and elaborate.
So what sounds amusing at first is an expression of a serious challenge: SEO needs resources. And every IT department has its hands full even before a detailed SEO analysis. No one in development was just waiting to smooth out status codes or optimise internal link structures.
The result is often frustration on both sides. The SEO department or external consultancy often waits a disproportionately long time for the implementation of the tasks entered. The IT department tries to push the open tasks to the next deployment or the one after that and then works on other tasks with higher priority because the stakeholder has somehow made himself more noticeable.
The bottleneck here, as so often, is communication.
- Can I make my point clearly enough?
- Can I convey what direct effect the measure will have on the performance of the site?
- Can I describe a task so concretely that it can be implemented directly?
- And last but not least: Have I even addressed the right contact person for the implementation?
In addition, as an SEO, I must understand the task so well that I can realistically estimate the effort it will take to correct the error, what effect the correction of the error will have on the page and with what urgency the implementation should be approached. We tend not to see the wood for the SEO trees and forget that technical and/or editorial SEO is just one cog in the company’s wheel – albeit a far more important one than outsiders often assume.
The SEO Worst Case
Let’s start with the description of a classic worst-case scenario in SEO consulting: The consultant receives the order to fundamentally analyse the site with regard to technical deficiencies and content potential. After two weeks of analysis work in the windowless basement, the SEO proudly presents 120 PowerPoint slides with SEO deficiencies and the conclusion, not without pride in his voice: “Nothing works for you.”
Well, apart from the fact that in this form of communication a lot is already fundamentally wrong, beforehand: the company was already functioning before the analysis. And it will continue to function afterwards. So we won’t let the conclusion stand. But let’s now switch to the customer or implementer side: What should I do with this wealth of data? Where should I start? And what exactly should I do?
So, at a very basic level, we can already say this: SEO tasks that have not been sorted according to priority and effort and placed in a timeline are worthless. A bombardment with data rarely leads to real doing and thus has hardly any added value in the cooperation apart from an oversized spark of self-promotion of the responsible SEO.
SEO implementation: when 40 percent already satisfy us
Some time ago, Hanns Kronenberg, Senior SEO at chefkoch.de and a veteran of the SEO industry, quoted the fantastic Kristina Azarenko, who asked on Twitter: What percentage of your SEO recommendations are implemented? The sobering result: for more than half of the respondents, only 20 to 40 percent of the recommendations are actually implemented.
Translation: Hanns: “Over 50% of SEOs say that usually only up to 40% of their recommendations are implemented. Successful SEO does not only make recommendations, successful SEO also takes care of the implementation. This is often the bigger part of the work. Make the strategy work! “
Stefan: “If the 20% that solve 80% of the problems are implemented, then all is well.“
For Hanns, this is reason to point out once again that successful SEO is not just about giving advice, but also about implementation support. This is 100 per cent correct, but unfortunately often does not fit into the real job situation of external consultants. SEO consultants are still often booked “for a project”. And this project often only consists of the careful analysis – the implementation support is then taken over in-house. Or not.
Stefan Vorwerk, Head of SEO at About You, notes in the commentary: If the 20 per cent are implemented that solve 80 per cent of the problems, then everything is good. And that’s exactly what this article is about: Which recommendations should I really implement?
The Low Hanging Fruits in SEO – and how to harvest them
Are you worried about the SEO performance of your website? Then the first step is to look at the file size of your embedded images.
Sounds trivial? It is. But in hundreds of detailed SEO audits that I have already carried out in my life, one point was almost always the main reason for the page loading too slowly and not performing well: images with a file size of 900 KB and an edge length of 2000 px, which are then scaled to 150 px in length as a thumbnail and are never, never included in the original size on the page.
But even with 2000 px edge length, the file size must not exceed 100 KB. Full stop. This is a very basic, fundamental point in page optimisation that is still overlooked. Get all your images to a file size below 100 KB and you’ve taken an important first step in optimising your page.
And if we are not talking about your own small WordPress installation, but about the website of a corporation, then the SEO consultant or the SEO department should have a good understanding of who is responsible for this task: IT? Or better still, the graphics department that delivers the required images?
In most cases, the image files are provided by the image editors or the graphics department. Here it makes sense to place basic SEO know-how directly with those responsible. “File size smaller than 100 KB” is the first, most important step. But also: name the image accordingly and refrain from using special characters, capital letters, underscores and the like in the file name. Use modern image formats. Determine realistic viewports with the concept and define in advance which edge lengths are needed at all. If the graphics department really understands why it is doing this, everyone wins in the end. And IT doesn’t have to roll its eyes because tasks have ended up with it for which it is not responsible in the end.
Why we shouldn’t let ourselves be overwhelmed by data in SEO
How can you keep track of all this data?
My approach is quite pragmatic and certainly not completely watertight, but in the first step it gives an indication of a possible prioritisation. When crawling with the Screaming Frog SEO Spider, I receive a value for each optimisation option, which indicates the savings potential of this measure for each crawled URL.
– Filename: https://www.domain.de/js/nobody-needs-me.js
– Location: header.php, line 14
– TO DO: Delete line
Script is needed on
please include inline.
See Task No.
Once I have gone through this for the biggest potential savings, I take another look at the main templates of the page (homepage, category pages, product detail page, etc.) and run them through the Google Pagespeed Tool. Now I can check whether there are further savings potentials that are of great importance for these key pages or whether I have already formulated all deficiencies as tasks. The output: concrete to-dos and a reduction of the amount of data to a manageable and manageable level. And ideally: a happy IT and a correspondingly fast implementation!
SEO? Those are H-tags, aren’t they?
We have already seen in this article how important it is to prioritise individual tasks within the optimisation potential, to address them correctly and to formulate them concretely. But what about one level higher – before you even know that performance optimisation could be an important lever?
When dealing with SEO, one constantly encounters dangerous half-knowledge. Everyone has heard something about SEO or done something in this area. The classics you come across are statements like: “We should optimise the H tags, right?”
First of all: Yes, it makes sense to have clean headings embedded on the page. But whether they will catapult you from position 32 to position 3 remains to be seen (or in short: no, that won’t happen). It is much more important to have a neat division of an article into main heading and chapter headings for e.g. screen readers and people who depend on these aids. But also for editors, a clean structuring of an article makes sense in order to place appropriate sub-keywords and to deal with partial aspects exhaustively.
Unfortunately, however, there are still CMSs in 2022 that simply use H-tags as design elements. Apparently, we SEOs have still not managed to sufficiently formulate this error globally. And if even a top dog like WordPress still can’t manage to mark up widget headings not with H tags, but simply with divs, how can we tackle this task at all?
You don’t. In many cases, unfortunately, that is the best answer. Because the correct use of H-tags is not equally important for everyone. A publisher whose main business is publishing articles needs a clean HTML template, anything else would be grossly negligent. But a car dealer who presents his shop online with a 6-page spread has quite different levers to pull. You can probably even do without onpage SEO altogether and concentrate fully on Google Local to increase your own reach.
1,000 SEO recommendations – Conclusion
Precisely this, the sorting of sensible tasks into the potty, nice-to-haves into the jar, ultimately determines successful SEO vs. dying in beauty. The task of any good SEO consultancy or in-house SEO department is to clearly delineate which tasks are to be tackled by the already busy IT (or other departments in the company) and which can be safely ignored.
And once this sorting is done, the next challenge is communication. No employee wants to do pointless work. Everyone wants to understand why they are doing something and what effect it has.
SEOs tend to live in their own little bubble, where it is a given that CSS files are minimised or critical CSS is included “above the fold” inline. But the world outside this bubble looks very different – and takes a very different view of the website and its potential. Here it is important to communicate clearly what effect which measure will have. Not from above, but at eye level.
If we succeed in this, the likelihood that our implementation rate will rise from 40 to 70 per cent also increases. And SEO is not a niche product that is simply “implemented” after a relaunch, but ideally becomes part of the company’s DNA and will simply be considered directly in the future.
And for SEOs: just take a few steps back and look at the big picture. And then realistically and free of ego decide what really counts and will really drive the company as a whole. Our discipline is important. But it is only one cog in the overall gear, albeit an often underestimated one.