What we will cover
How to work with a technical SEO agency
There are many SEO agencies that will spout the word ‘technical SEO’ in the hope it will be enough to convince you to trust them with getting your business found on Google. Many of them do have superb technical SEO credentials but others – to be blunt – have no understanding of SEO beyond the keyword research and content optimisation we wrote about in Part 1.
Technical SEO is an umbrella term that covers everything you can do ‘under the hood’ of your website to support visibility on search engines. While it sometimes includes writing meta titles and descriptions, a lot of the work should be focused on speeding up and stabilising your website.
If you are working with a technical SEO agency, don’t just hand over your website details and leave them to it. Instead, we recommend you:
- Get a layman’s understanding of Core Web Vitals
- Use image compression if you upload images to your website
- Monitor your agency’s performance
The rest of this article is dedicated to these three action points.
A crash course in Core Web Vitals
Before you freak out, we are not going to be going too deep into this element of technical SEO in this article. Fortunately, despite its imposing name and associated jargon, the concept behind Google’s Core Web Vitals is quite simple.
Internet users want websites that load quickly and respond instantly to interaction without jumping around all over the place. Google wants to keep its users happy so will reward sites that perform well in these areas with higher visibility.
Core Web Vitals is simply a way of measuring this performance. The three elements have been given obscure technical names but they roughly translate as follows:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) = How long it takes your biggest image to load
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) = How much your webpage shifts around (e.g. throws an ad in the way just as your user is about to tap or click some content!)
- First Input Delay (FID) = How long it takes the web browser to respond to a click or tap
While you are unlikely to need to know anything more about Core Web Vitals than this, your technical SEO agency should have an in-depth understanding of how to improve these metrics.
Fortunately, you have a handy helper which can help you ensure your agency are prioritising Core Web Vitals. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that will instantly generate a snapshot of how your website measures up. Simply enter your web address in the text box, click ‘Analyze’ and your site will be given a number out of 100 for both desktop and mobile performance.
Anything over 90 is brilliant but the report also breaks performance down and highlights Core Web Vitals with a blue tag. If you see red or amber labels on these key metrics, it’s time to give your technical SEO agency a progress call.
Image compression: A quick win?
In many cases, the biggest culprit for slowing down a website is the size of images that have been uploaded. Ever received a bunch of high resolution images following a photo shoot and uploaded them directly into your website’s media folder? These files might be 5MB or more and you can bet your LCP metric will have shot into the red shortly afterwards. In 2021, that can cause your site to drop a place (or page) in Google’s Search results.
While a technical SEO agency will have tricks up their sleeve to automatically optimise large images, there is a pretty neat (and free) solution you can use yourself.
Tinypng.com is a website that allows you to drag and drop up to 20 images of 5MB or less. It will then spit out a much smaller compressed file that looks identical to the naked eye. Simply adding this step to your content workflow will work wonders for your page load speed.
Apart from this, you will need the support of a technical SEO expert to fully optimise your Core Web Vitals. This is not a task for the amateur.
2021 is the year Google got serious about page load speed and other elements of on site user experience. If you have a shortfall in your technical SEO skills, Vu Online are here to help. Find out more about our professional SEO services and contact us for a conversation.
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