In my career as an SEO I’ve until recently have to rely on others for both interpreting but especially updating technical items, even simple HTML and CSS updates. Yeah, I know. A bit pathetic, and not optimal when you work in smaller and more hands-on organisations.
You can safely say it’s been more of a confidence issue (don’t want to “break” the code) than an expression of ineptitude, but it’s nonetheless been something that’s been bothering me.
Back in September I finally decided to do something about it. I signed up for a web developer course with Code Academy.
What drove this decision was a discussion in early summer with a previous colleague who now works as an SEO in an agency. He said to me that he thinks within a couple of years, SEOs have to be more technical than anything, because the way things are progressing, brand content by professional writers will over time outrank a lot of amateur written stuff out there based on the pure quality difference – so technical and off-site will be more important than on-site, where I currently do my best work.
While this in itself wasn’t what I would call shocking news, it was a confirmation of my own thoughts which solidified at Ungagged in London in June when Bartosz Góralewicz from Elephate pretty much delivered the same message, but with a different reasoning outlined in this post post about Google becoming a black box.
So why programming? I really don’t have any plans to become a web developer any time soon. Also, shouldn’t I get even deeper into technical SEO instead? After all, I stated just a few paragraphs ago that I think it’s all moving towards technical SEO.
For me personally, going to the basics and getting thoroughly into code, hosting, servers and other technical areas allows me to understand the very foundation of the technology, and I think it’s hard to truly become an expert without having a deep understanding of the foundational technology in place.
Also, like in most other areas of life, SEO skills increase the most when you’re in the trenches from day to day ranking your site(s). That’s always going to be the case for me. The difference is from now on, I can fix code myself. In any case, if you’re serious about SEO you should make sure your technical skills are sharp, and as always I recommend taking your time to stay up to date from day to day using sites like SearchEngineRoundtable.