The Correlation Between Technical SEO and Rankings – Omi Sido’s Benchmark 2018 Talk

Sep 18th, 2018

Returning for a second time at the Benchmark Search Conference, the ever popular Omi Sido, Senior Technical SEO at Canon Europe, was full of energy as he delivered a passionate talk about the relationship between technical SEO and its effect on rankings

For those new to the conference or indeed search marketing, Omi gently eased the audience in by looking at what exactly technical SEO is and warned that there were many in the industry that ignored it when it came to their ranking strategy.

He suggested that despite working in technical SEO for the last five years there was in fact only one type of SEO and that content and technical fell under the same umbrella.

He told the audience: “In my mind there is only one SEO and if you came to my company tomorrow for a job interview and told me that you are content only or technical only then you are not going to get the job.”

He said that he had learned this over the years and that back in 2017 a company came to him to do a technical SEO audit as they were struggling with their rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Omi agreed and then suggested that he would have to look at the content side of things too. He said: “Content is king but only when Google can see it”, before describing how he ran the audit on the OnCrawl platform.

When crawling their site Omi found that there were 500,000 pages in the structure and 154,737 orphaned pages which seemed like a huge amount. To his surprise however only 3,108 orphan pages were active, a point he reiterated several times in sheer disbelief.

Turning to the audience for approval he asked: “Why would you have so many orphaned pages when only 3,000 are getting traffic?

“Your content is useless without traffic.”

To solve the problem Omi asked the developers to get rid of 60% of the content on the site and upon doing so the rankings of the website spiked immediately. Omi’s strategy had single-handley increased revenue by 22% without writing a single piece of new content or generating new backlinks; he was simply optimising what was already there.

The second half of his talk looked at three key areas of technical SEO. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), internal linking and the difference between subdomains and sub-directories.

When discussing AMP he said: “This is the web’s first steps into the performance age and the early adopters of this Mobile-First strategy are benefiting. In some cases companies are seeing a 70 – 100% increase in rankings and traffic which has a positive impact on revenue.

When it came to internal linking Omi was topical and used an array of nice, simple analogies. He stated that this process was very important and looked at the recent World Cup as an example.

He noticed that the Daily Mail wrote hundreds of pieces of content about World Cup, but never linked to their World Cup hub page so it was no surprise that they were not ranking for this yet their competitors were.

This was all down to internal linking and Omi noticed that in the other newspapers every article that mentioned the World Cup linked directly to the main ‘hub page’ for that term, thus sending the traffic there. Omi’s key takeaway here was to make sure that you clearly define your category pages so they rank for top level keywords.

Staying on the football theme, Omi said: “Internal linking is a lot like football, the goalkeeper has to pass or properly link to the defenders, who must properly link to the midfielders who must properly link to the strikers and only then can they score a goal.

“There are 11 players on the pitch but only one of them can score the goal (convert). The Daily Mail mentions the World Cup ten times in an article and yet they don’t link back to the hub page.

“In contrast the Guardian is linking back every time. In essence they are telling Google to ignore all of their World Cup content and rank the hub page only.”

For the final part of his talk Omi looked at subdomains versus sub directories and emphasised that Google has no problems crawling and indexing both.

He used the example of who had increased their online visibility in one week by migrating subdomains to the subdirectory. This, he said, had improved internal linking and user experience (UX).

Omi closed an informative talk by providing a technical SEO checklist for the audience to follow if they wanted to see improvements on their site.

For more detail on the 2018 Benchmark Search Conference, you can view all the talks and slide decks here. Alternatively, you can check out our resources page for even more actionable insights, or contact us today to see what we can do for your brand.


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