State of Technical SEO Survey: The Findings

technical seo survey findings

Aira and Women in Tech SEO have released their first annual report on the state of technical SEO. The findings are taken from over 870 digital marketing professionals working in both in house and agency workplaces. The survey outlines the Technical SEO skillset that the industry expects SEO’s to have as well and provides an outline for those looking to upskill. As well as outlining skillset the survey further outlines the SEO tools of choice, the metrics SEO performance is measured on and also the preferred eCommerce and none eCommerce platforms to work with. 

Below we have picked out some of the key technical SEO findings from the survey based on the top 6 results for each. You can read the full survey here.

Demand for Technical SEO Services Over the Past 12 Months

69% found that the demand for technical SEO services has increased over the last 12 months.

As COVID-19 has accelerated online usage and purchases, the need for technical SEO has followed the same trajectory. Again tying this in with the constant Google Algorithm updates launched, it’s more important than ever to ensure you have a robust technical SEO strategy to build upon.

Typical Time it Takes for Technical SEO Changes to be Implemented

39% of SEOs surveyed found that the typical time for Technical SEO changes to be implemented took 1 month.

From the survey results a month is the typical time it takes for technical SEO changes to be implemented, closely followed by 27% stating that changes can take 3 months and 25% finding changes implemented in a week. Only 2% saw this typical time to be over 12 months. Most found that SEO tasks are actioned after other non-SEO relevant tasks are completed by the developers.

How Technical SEO tasks are Prioritised

44% of SEOs prioritised technical SEO tasks based on quick wins.

While quick wins tops the leaderboard in terms of task prioritisation, 33% of SEOs prioritised technical SEO tasks based on the impact on KPIs, whilst only 10% based them on Google guidelines, 8% on the impact to users and 5% based on industry changes such as core algorithm updates. The split is interesting as agencies will tend to prioritise tasks based on quick wins whereas in-house SEOs will base this on how the tasks will impact KPIs.

The Preferred Technical SEO Tool

39% of SEOs preferred Technical SEO tool is ScreamingFrog SEO Spider.

Whilst ScreamingFrog SEO Spider tops the list, Google Search Console comes in 2nd place at 19% with 12% preferring SEMrush, 8% preferring Ahrefs, 7% for Sitebulb and finally 3% preferred Deepcrawl. ScreamingFrog SEO Spider offers a wealth of functionality and insight for a reasonable price, it isn’t surprising that it is the preferred SEO tool from the industry feedback.

Preferred Non eCommerce Platform

75% of SEOs preferred WordPress as a non eCommerce platform.

WordPress wins in this category with the only double digit scoring compared to other platforms, beating Drupal, Hubspot and Sitecore to the top spot. This isn’t surprising as WordPress has a large number of plugins that help make completing SEO tasks quick and easy with a user friendly CMS.

Which Non eCommerce Platform is the most Problematic?

29% of SEOs found Wix to be the most problematic non eCommerce platform to work with.

Wix tops the list for being the most problematic non eCommerce platform to work with, from the feedback most report Wix being slow and also limiting in functionality. The same opinion is also echoed for Squarespace whilst Drupal and Joomla appear to be quicker; they are both still limited in terms of functionality.

Preferred eCommerce Platform

29% of SEOs chose Shopify as their preferred platform.

Shopify takes the top spot closely followed by joint second for WooCommerce and Magento. Shopify in the past hasn’t always been SEO friendly, recently they announced the ability to manually set a robots.txt within Shopify which couldn’t be achieved before, the result is quite surprising. 

Which eCommerce Platform is the most Problematic?

33% found Magento to be the most problematic eCommerce platform.

From a technical SEO point of view, SEOs found Magento to be the most problematic eCommerce platform to work with. Again both WooCommerce and Shopify are quite flexible in terms of technical SEO implementation whilst Magento requires developers to incorporate a majority of changes required.

Biggest Risk to Technical SEO Success

27% found that a lack of resources (no one able to implement changes) are the biggest risk to technical SEO success.

Lack of resource took the top spot for biggest risk to technical SEO success, closely followed by technical debt which includes being able to implement top level changes but unable to implement the changes which matter most in terms of impact.

The Metrics SEO Performance is Measured On

90% of SEOs surveyed stated actual organic traffic from Google Analytics as the top performance metric to be measured on.

Following closely is keyword rankings within SERPs and conversions (leads and revenue) coming in third. It’s good to see that conversions as a metric is high up on the list in the survey. Ideally this should be top as it is a hard metric compared to organic traffic which is more of a vanity metric. 

Setting Expectations, How Long Do the Technical SEO Changes Take to Have an Impact?

41% of SEOs set the expectation of 3 months for changes made through Technical SEO to have an impact.

3 months is the most common expectation that SEOs report on technical SEO changes having an impact, this is closely followed by 6 months. Again there are various factors involved within setting this expectation, certain aspects of technical SEO changes can have a quicker uptake by search engines compared to others.

Skills Rated the Most Important for Technical SEO

71% of SEOs rated data analysis as the most important skill for Technical SEO.

Data analysis comes out top in the skills rated most important for Technical SEO, being able to understand performance data gives us insights into how the changes made through tech SEO have had an impact or not. Data analysis is then followed by the ability to read and understand HTML/CSS, the ability to understand what is happening with both of these languages can help to uncover any SEO roadblocks in place.