BUSRA CILDAS at SEOnerdSwitzerland

What content SEOs should know about technical SEO

Here you find the transcript and a link to the youtube recording of SEOnerdSwitzerland meetup about technical SEO for copywriters with Busra Cildas.

Content and technical SEO disciplines complement each other like the two halves of a book, without which the whole is unusable. There is a chance that you will have to dig deep and decide on the technical SEO aspects of the content you create one day. Let’s discuss together when and where that day will come. About a hundred people joined the online talk when it was live.

In this talk, you learn:

  • When content SEO intervenes with tech SEO
  • Technical SEO subject to know and why you need them
  • Real-life examples combining technical and content SEO

🔥 To support SEOnerd Switzerland, invite your friends to come to the next event and share this article.

Busra Cildas, SEO Manager, BoostROAS

Busra began her career as a content marketing specialist in Paraşüt, one of Turkey’s leading B2B companies in the finance sector. After making hundreds of content experiments to increase organic conversions of the company during 2 years, she decided to take a brave step and learn SEO in 2019. Today she is SEO Manager at the multi award-winning growth agency, BoostROAS. She develops SEO strategies combining content and technical SEO to help companies’ growth.

Follow Busra on Twitter: @BusraCildas

Follow Busra on LinkedIn: Busra Cildas

Full webinar recording

Thank you Busra Cildas for your presentation

💛 Thanks to our speaker, we are so happy to welcome you! Preparing a presentation and being present at the meetup take a lot of time.

SEOnerdSwitzerland is nothing without speakers willing to share their knowledge. I am happy we got to welcome Busra!

About #SEOnerdSwitzerland

SEOnerdSwitzerland is a non-profit association that aims at promoting and sharing knowledge about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEOnerd Switzerland organizes events in person and in webinars. 

🔥 Join the community of SEO enthusiasts by joining the meetup group. If you have any questions or ideas, contact the co-hosts, Sara Moccand-Sayegh and Isaline Muelhauser: isaline@pilea.ch.

Follow us on Twitter @SEOnerdSwitz where we share slides, nexts events and articles we enjoyed.

Transcript of the webinar about Technical SEO for content SEOs with Busra Cildas

Sara:  Hello, everybody.

Busra:  Hello.

Busra:  Yes.

Sara:  For those that are new, let me introduce you to SEOnerdSwitzerland. For those that are used to SEOnerdSwitzerland, we are very happy that you are still here, and you are very happy to hear the introduction once again. Yeah! So SEOnerdSwitzerland

is an association. It was created by Isaline and I. The goal is to share SEO knowledge. Our main goal is to meet other people doing SEO in Switzerland. What happened is that with coronavirus, it became much larger. So we decided to keep it online, because we saw that it was super cool. We have nice speakers as the one of today. And the community is growing. So that’s just fantastic to have you all here and have this virtual meetup. 

So let’s say thank you to the sponsors. One of our sponsors is Liip. It’s the company that I work for, by the way. It’s a development company, so thank you so much for Liip for supporting us. The second sponsor, you probably know it, if you’re looking for a job, you know it for sure, is WorkinSEO. Isaline is the head responsible, or how you want to call it, for WorkinSEO. So you probably know the podcast. It becomes quite famous, their podcast but there is also the job board, which is dedicated for SEO career. 6I don’t know, Isaline, if you want to add something on that.

Isaline:  Well, the podcast is mainly about stories and just getting to learn other SEOs and what they went through. And for each podcast, we focus on, usually, one topic. And it’s really about stories, and you know, just welcoming everyone in the community, and just seeing that everybody is different, but we all have the same questions. And it kind of feels really good to know them. And Season 2 is about to be available. So I’m really excited about that.

Sara:  Fantastic. I am happy because I love your podcast. So next guest… Myriam will be our next guest. She’s quite funny. She’s smart and funny. So a fantastic combination. And she will be with us next time. So what else? Isaline? No? This was the last slide. Do you want to say something?

Isaline:  Yeah. You can tweet about Busra and us. It helps us very much to share the message. And also, we’re always happy to know that you enjoy what we do. But I’m going to show that in the slides, once I finish talking, so you can have, easily, the links and stuff.

Busra:  Hi, everyone. Greetings from Istanbul, Turkey. I’m Busra. Today, I’m going to talk about what content SEOs should know about technical SEO. I said “content SEOs” but you don’t have to be an SEO at this point because this presentation is mainly for content writers, who are managing their websites. There are some sad stories and sarcastic stories I experienced at the beginning of my career, and I wanted to share them with you. Introduction about myself. I’m Busra. I live in Turkey. And I’m an SEO manager at BoostRoas. Six years ago, I started my career as a content writer for a B2B website. And up to now, I create tons of content strategies for B2B and B2C companies. 

Working is not the only thing I do, of course. I’m a huge fan of Japanese animes and mangas. And I also love taking lots of photos. You can find me on my Instagram with my name and surname, of course, if you want to follow me. And this is a small indicator that this does not include anything about keyword research and search intent concepts. Of course, they are so important for content SEO but here are some reading materials for you as the beginning points, because this talk will include topics, mainly, for technical SEO. And you might ask, “What is technical SEO according to you?” of course. 

The technical SEO is any operations including the knowledge of how a website works, how search engine works, and how Google crawls and indexes web pages. So to be more specific, any optimization you make to help Google crawl and index your website correctly is actually a topic of technical SEO. Why do I love telling this story? Because I believe that one’s mistakes can be other person’s solutions, and learning from my mistakes during the beginning of my career was a big source of motivation for me. 

Of course, I was so lucky because I was working at a startup environment. Everyone was learning something from their mistakes, and luckily, they didn’t fire me after making some of these huge mistakes. And I love them and great things for them too. So this is the story of how I turned into an SEO from a newbie content editor. Of course, this slide does not include the whole process because there is a six-year story there but I want to share with you some fatal mistakes I made so that you can learn about them, and don’t do the same mistakes like me in your careers. 

So almost six years ago, not completely six years ago, I was looking for a job, and I was hired as a content editor for a B2B website. And they told me that I was going to be responsible for SEO-related tasks, but obviously, I had no knowledge about SEO at that time. And they told me, “Don’t worry, you can learn it. You can read about it. You will have time. You can learn it. As long as you are creative, nothing will be a problem.” And I was like this. “Okay, I’m so motivated.” “I love writing.” “I can be creative, of course.” “There won’t be a problem,” and “I’m going to rock this job.” However, it doesn’t turn out like that because after a while, I realized that writing creative content was not enough for managing a website because when you publish a piece of content, people will expect organic traffic and organic conversions in the future from that piece of content, because, everything you write should have a return on investment. 

And that’s a problem for me because I had no knowledge about writing creative. So I was just shocked like this Jackie Chan here. And my story as a struggling content writer starts from here. For example, one day, I created a campaign page. We had a really big campaign. And it was about a really important keyword in Turkey. And I created a really good content marketing page. The motto of the campaign was really good. I put all of the keywords in it because, at that point, I learned keyword research at least. And I felt like the queen of everything because we published the page and everything was okay. The campaign started without a problem but one day, my manager told me that we are not ranking for specific campaign-related keywords, and we don’t have any organic traffic coming for the page. And I was shocked because up to that time, I always thought that I did everything correctly, and it was a huge disappointment for me, and I was trying to look for the culprit here, of course, because I didn’t think that I was the one. 

And I asked the web developer. And the web designer told me that the page template I used for creating that content page had noindex attribute by default. So it couldn’t be visible on search, obviously. And I was like this. I remember that I was about to cry because all of the stuff I had to do, all of my pain, all of my hurt was– it meant for me, because it wasn’t visible on search. But I didn’t just give up about it, I didn’t cry. And I was trying to understand what noindex attribute means at that point because I had no knowledge about noindex. What is indexing? Then I start learning. I start reading, and I came across the term “crawling,” “indexing,” and “ranking.”. So it’s not only about only indexing. There are some fancy words here. “So there’s something called ‘crawling’ together with ‘indexing’ and ‘ranking,’ So what are these stuff?” I remember wondering like that, of course. 

And let’s dive a little bit into it. So search engines aim to give the most relevant and high quality results as soon as we enter a keyword to them. So actually, they are– using for us, they are trying to show the best results for us when we look for something on search because there are billions of pages around the world. There are a lot of information out there, and they’re trying to help us find the best one out of them. And you may ask, “How do they know which page to show?” Actually, the answer is easy. They get help from their friends called spiders. Don’t worry, they are not real spiders. You may hear them called as spiders, Googlebots, et cetera, or Bingbot, whichever search engine you are using. 

And these search engines send them out to crawl a website. And this starts the crawling, indexing, and ranking process. Actually, Martin has a really good allegory for this. He just resembles all the crawling, indexing, and ranking process to a library, a full functioning library. I won’t go into too much detail because I think he explains better than me but as a small summary, just think of a very big library, and there is a librarian working in it. And this library comes across a really new book, and the library, of course, has no knowledge about this book. And our librarian starts to read the book, understands the book, and starts trying to decide which place to put this book into the library catalog. You know, there are different types of books. It may be a thriller. It may be a romance novel. It may be a history book, et cetera. 

So here, the library is Google or any other search engine. The librarian is, of course, the crawler. So our crawler just comes across this fancy book, aka the webpage, and tries to crawl it, and understands the context out of it. And then of course, the librarian tries to find the place. So our crawler tries to find a place in indexing for a specific book. And after that, you know, the new book, after being added to the library’s catalog. People will come and look for the new book, and it will get ranked in the library’s search box. You know, when you go to a library and open the computer and start to look for something in the library, you will get a ranking list, right? So that ranking is like the algorithm Google used to hierarchically rank pages for this set of search results. Actually, this is all the process of crawling, indexing, and ranking. I know it may be a little bit confusing at the beginning, but don’t worry, when you read more and more, you will start to understand the concept. So as a beginner, you may ask, “How can you understand the pages indexed here?” 

There are a few ways that you can use. For example, if you have access to the Google Search Console of your web page, you can always use this section. This is called URL inspection tool. You can copy and paste your URL here, and it tells you whether the page is crawled and indexed properly. If you see green checks here, everything is okay. But if you don’t see anything here, like a gray space with no green boxes, green checks, then it means that your pages aren’t indexed at that moment. If you don’t have access for Google Search Console, there are other ways, of course. For example, Kristina Azarenko has a really, really cool Chrome extension called SEO Pro extension. You can use it with Google Chrome and you can just check here while checking the webpage, whether it is noindex or nofollow– it has noindex attribute here. 

So it is a really good starting point for a beginner. And of course, in order to be sure about the indexing part of a specific web page here that you will publish, there are some really basic steps. There’s a checklist here. So in your website, you should avoid any server errors here. In order to find servers, you need to visit, again, Google Search Console. There’s a cool place called coverage reports. You can see all of the errors there. You should add internal links to your specific page because Google needs to find the relevance of the page. I’m going to talk about them in the later slides. 

Of course, you should avoid indications that Google should stay away from the page. For example, in this example that I left with Cambium, noindex attribute to prevent indexing point, or it can be a sort of instruction in a robots.txt file. These are the things that give the signal to Google that are like, “Okay, buddy, you should stay away from this page. You have no business with this page.” And of course, you make sure that you are not telling Google to index a different page. So what do I mean “to index a different page”? Actually, it’s another sad story for me. Let’s talk about it a little bit. 

So sometimes, you may need to create mass content pages. And in order to create them, you just copy and paste same pieces of content across the pages. That thing actually, I did. That’s not the good old way to do it, but that’s the way I did it because I was saving time. I didn’t have to write all of the content for guides, blog articles, product feature pages. I was genius here, but of course, as a net result, there were no organic traffic or no organic keywords ranking for the content pages I’ve created. And I realized that something is not right with these pages, and it may be related to content. 

And at that point, I start to look for keywords like, “Okay copying and pasting content is a bad thing.” “Is it a bad thing or not?” I remember making these searches on Google. I’m not ashamed of it because that’s the point I start learning SEO. And of course, I learned about duplicate content and canonical URLs, canonical tags. In order to get visibility for your content, this is not a secret, everyone. In order to get visibility for your content, each piece of content you should create should be unique. So my way was not the good way. If you copy and paste content across the pages, it will cause duplicate content problem and probably, you will not get proper traffic for a specific content page or a specific feature page, and that will be a problem. If you have to create duplicate content pages due to your category structure, for example, or if you are working on an e-commerce website and you need to create a single page for every color alternative or size alternative, then you need to use canonical text to give the signal to Google so that it can choose to index a specific page and ignore the other copies. So it may be confusing. 

I remember that canonical URLs was a hard concept for me to learn during my learning progress. So if we try to explain it in a simple way, it’s like talking to Google like this, “Okay Google dude, I have three pages, A, B, and C. They’re completely the same with each other. They’re copies but I want you to read just A page because I want that page to be visible on Google search results but I don’t want B and C there, and you should totally ignore them. So I don’t want you to read them, dude. So I’m using canonical URLs here. And my canonical URL will be A. Please ignore them. Please don’t make me unhappy. Please, I’m begging you for this.”

It’s a funny way to talk about it but canonical tags are practically like that, of course. If you don’t want to use canonical tags, you can always delete duplicate copies and apply 301 redirections tor these URLs. That’s the better solution, but you cannot do this thing all the time because of the category structures or e-commerce structures, sometimes. And when I mentioned 301 redirections, I just remember two or three more sad stories about it because that was a complicated concept for me too, so I just want to talk about “How did I struggle with URL changes and 301 redirections?” at this point. 

Again, one day, I decided to update a blog post title, and of course, why not? I changed the URL structure so that the title and the URL could be the same. But guess what did I forget. I forgot something. And I’m crying, obviously, because I did not redirect the old URL to the new one, and I did not realize that because I didn’t know that that was a really big problem. And a bit later, one of my colleagues told me that the blog page’s daily traffic dropped from 500 to 50. And he asked me whether I did a 301 redirection or not for that specific URL, and I answered him like, “Three-o-what? Because I don’t know and I don’t know what 301 redirection is at that point, but when I learned that traffic dropped because of that URL changed, I learned what a 301 redirection was. 

It was not something funny, but again, I learned something from my mistakes. So a 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that passes the full ranking cover of a link. So if you are changing a URL, and– you have a really dangerous stuff here, actually, this is a tricky business. If you need to change a URL, and if you have a possibility of traffic loss and visibility loss, please don’t forget to redirect your old URL to the new version because you will lose traffic. And decreasing from 500 to 50 was a learning point for me. But imagine, you are running a website like 20,000 clicks a day, and you change all of the URL structures, and now, your new traffic decreased to 1000 after a week. So it’s a really shocking thing. You should be careful about URL changes and redirections. But that’s not the only time I had problem with 301 redirections, unfortunately. And there’s another question here. And it’s obviously, “Should we apply 301 redirection for each 404 page?” So this is a question I asked a lot in the past because I had really sad stories about it, and let me share it with you. 

Again, at some point, we start to work with an SEO agency in that same company. And they sent a list of 404 pages to me and told me to redirect them to whatever page I wanted. So that’s the dangerous part here. I’m not sharing 404 pages with my clients right now and telling them, “You can redirect them whatever page you want,” because, that’s really dangerous. You shouldn’t do that. And since we were a startup, we had limited software development power. So they had created me a panel for, of course, 301 redirections. I was the one responsible who will do that. And I redirected a 404 URL including the comma, and it was nothing serious for me. 

I just chose to redirect it, then the developer deployed the changes on the website. But something wasn’t right, because the website crashed and had server response code for almost 40 minutes. And this 40 minutes for the highest traffic time for all the ads and organic traffic, and highest conversion time. And we lost money because of it, because up to that time nobody thought that. Nobody thought to add an instruction for “Okay, there is a 301 panel here, but okay, you should ignore all the links including a comma, or a question mark, or a dash.” And at that point, the developers learned that they should have done it because I’m not a proper person to know it at that point. 

And there was another problem, of course, because I’m like a magnet of problems here, and I also redirected an API link with 404 responses, of course. And because of that, the website did not get any conversions within the software they are using for 10 days. So obviously, the B2B website was a marketing and cloud-based bookkeeping software. And there are some API URLs allowing them to get conversions within the trial period of the software, but since I redirected them, they couldn’t get any redirections for 10 days, and we couldn’t know how much conversions we lost because of it. 

The developers were so angry with me at that point, but I said, “What can I do?” Sometimes, I don’t have any knowledge about it but I learned it right now. I would ask for the second time, and they understand that, of course, and they helped me a lot at that point. And if you come back to my question of whether we should redirect every 404 page or not, I think we don’t need to redirect every 404 page here, and we should consult a developer in the process if you are not sure about the URLs you are about to redirect. And if there will be a case of traffic loss after a URL change, please don’t forget to redirect it to the new version. 

So it’s a kind of sad story. But I want to talk a little bit about the image files too, because there is some funny stuff going on there. One day, I created a landing page and added a hero image to the top of the page. It was a really cool image, it was a really clear image, and I guess the page was perfect. However, the page was not fully loading in 15 seconds. There was obviously a problem with the page speed. And when I tried to add a blog content, another blog content to the CMS we are using, it was giving the message, error message, “There is no space left.” “So What is the problem here? I did everything right but the CMS is wrong, and they gave me a broken CMS. What am I going to do here? I’m merely a content writer here. So what’s wrong with the CMS tool?” I was furious, and I went to the developer to ask, “Why is this not working? Why is this happening?” I remember the furious part, the feeling of it. 

And of course, the developer started to check the problem. And I’m not exaggerating but when he understood the problem, this is the face. He looked at me. We both cried and he got angry with me because the image that I uploaded was 12 megabytes. And that’s not the only image I uploaded to the website. There are contents of images like that. So until that point, 12 megabytes was not a big file size for me, but I learned that in terms of web page terminology, megabytes are really big, and you shouldn’t upload that kind of big files, especially, image files to your website. It was hard to learn, and it was painful to learn, and painful to see this face but I learned something, anyhow. 

So if you don’t want to come across the same problem for the images, you should properly size your images before uploading them not to have space or page-speed-related problems. And if you are not sure about the size of the images that you should use, you can always ask a web developer. Or if you are working with an SEO agency, you can ask them for the proper image size. They would be happy to share them with you because it will affect their page speed and call that vital that strategies too. And this is not a page speed or space related stuff but try adding image alt text for each image because it helps you to become visible in image search results, and if you’re lucky, you can get traffic out of it. I just dropped a really cool guide here for that too. 

Of course, when it comes to content writing, please don’t forget about internal linking. It’s really serious. I don’t have a really sad story or a dramatic story about it, but it’s a really important topic in terms of content writing. So what is an internal link? We can just describe it’s any link from one page to another webpage on your website. It helps you to create a link map for your web pages, and sometimes, if you are working with an SEO, you will hear them talking about anchor text. It seems so sexy and it seems so fancy but it’s not as complicated as it seems. Anchor text actually means the word you added the hyperlink of the page while doing internal linking. So don’t worry about it. You may ask, “Why is it important? Why should I do internal linking? It will take a lot of time for me to find the correct pages for internal linking.” 

But they allow users to navigate the websites, and they have established an information hierarchy for your website. It’s actually like a user manual. Just think that you have a new TV and you open the user manual. And when you open it, at the beginning, you will probably see a table of contents. And it will say, “For this problem or for this topic, go and see this page.” “For this topic, go and see this page.” Actually, internal linking in a content just like that, it provides you a user-friendly environment. And if the users are looking for more information about the topic you are just mentioning there, they will just click there and go to that page naturally. So it’s a really user-friendly application. Just don’t think that it’s only about SEO or it’s only about Googlebots. So you should also think about your users here, your traffic and your visitors of course. 

So just think it’s like a user manual. And if you’re not sure about it or how to do it, you can always get help from an SEO, or you can always get help from other online resources. There’s plenty of resources out there, and this, I think, one of the best one here, “learningseo.io.” It’s a really good reading material for beginners. You should definitely go and see it. And this is all for my presentation today. If you want to have a chat about content SEO or technical SEO, you can reach me via email, LinkedIn or Twitter.

And thank you for listening to me. Thank you, guys, for having me here today.