Christmas is a time for reflection. And so in this special Christmas edition of Sitebulb Monthly we're taking a departure from our normal theme, and selecting our very favourite posts from the last 12 months. This is the creme de la creme of tech SEO, and well worth a read if you missed them first time around (or a re-read if you didn't).
Before we get to the posts, and in the spirit of reflection, we'd like to thank all our awesome customers, readers, followers and friends, for all the amazing support you've given us during 2018. Sitebulb just won the 2018 UK Search Award for 'Best Search Software Tool', and we literally could not have done it without the help, support and constant feedback from you guys. You rock.
(P.S. Check out this post if you want to see some photos of us looking gawky while collecting the award).
Without further ado...
Top 10 Technical SEO Posts of 2018
I really enjoyed this post, and not only because it's written by one of my favourite SEO bloggers, but also because it makes a logical, well-reasoned argument as to why E-A-T is not something that the algorithm measures and adjusts for. The post reaches far beyond this, however, describing how Google are testing and optimizing for query intent, and explaining how they manage this with better understanding of natural language. I challenge you to read this and not be thought-provoked.
A worthy #1.
This is a blockbuster post from Tom Rayner (it is also pretty long, so pour yourself a coffee and strap in), in which he presents some compelling evidence that keyword intent is not created equal, with some interesting example cases. The idea being that Google is inferring the underlying (or 'latent') intent in a search term, and serving results based on this latent intent. He goes on to describe a case study where he developed an on-page strategy that targeted latent intent, and was richly rewarded with rankings. Read it.
An excellent article that breaks down how Natural Language Processing (NLP) works, and it's relevance to SEO, and then goes on to provide 10 actionable ways you can optimize content for NLP. I'd recommend reading this alongside the MozCon presentation Search-Driven Content Strategy by Stephanie Briggs.
#4 Internal Link Optimization with TIPR
I really enjoyed this post, along with the accompanying presentation video from TechSEO Boost. Ignoring YAAA (Yet Another Annoying Acronym), the framework that Kevin presents is a really interesting way to think about internal link optimization, and bridges the data-gap between crawl data, external link data, and log file data. It's the sort of cool shit we'd like to be able to auto-magically do in Sitebulb in a hypothetical near-future.
I love a good technical SEO case study, and this one is a blog post after my own heart, putting crawling and indexing to the forefront. And if you can't get excited about a company deciding to deindex 80% of their pages and being rewarded by a 50%+ revenue increase, then you're reading the wrong newsletter (scroll to the bottom, smash the 'unsubscribe' link).
The Crawl Maps we use in Sitebulb were copied from inspired by some posts we'd seen from the Portent team several years ago. And here is another great one from Matthew Henry, who uses crawl maps to demonstrate how extreme pagination can cause big issues for search engine crawlers, and comes up with his one weird trick to improve the crawlability of deep pagination. Middle out for the win, baby.
Optimizing internal link structure can be an extremely impactful technical SEO endeavour, and this guide from Cyrus Shepard is an absolute masterclass. There is a raft of different techniques covered, and Cyrus explains how to identify both pages that satisfy user intent and pages with high authority, and how you can structure your link building efforts around these pages.
What I like about this post is that it doesn't try to do too much, but offers a clear and thoughtful take on how content marketers can become more technical, whilst skilfully avoiding the lazy, presumptuous trope: 'all SEOs should learn to code.'
Whilst 'strange' technical SEO problems are often the most fun to figure out, they are also a lot more likely to induce an inadvertent plummet into the depths of a rabbit-designed ambush. Dominic provides a framework to help you work through such problems, and steer clear of those dastardly rabbits.
A very enjoyable and in parts shocking exploration into Giphy's dramatic drop in search visibility over the last few months. I legit OMG-ed when I read the cloaking bit, frantically changing user-agent to see for myself what they'd done.