Did you know that it's possible to rank #1 by doing nothing other than strong technical SEO? On-page SEO is really just the process of refining a website one page at a time, making sure that all the required elements are present, correct and optimised. This can be separated into two distinct categories: technical and content.

What is Technical SEO?

This simply refers to the technical accuracy, compliancy and quality of the code and the visual elements that are displayed on the page. This comprises of base HTML code, including all the elements that define the page, it's content, key markers and identifiers as well as where it fits in the greater internet community. In addition to this, there are elements that control the style and behaviour of the page, namely in the form of images, CSS stylesheets and Javascript code. All of these have clearly defined standards with regard to their structure and application, all of which can be easily found with a simple search on the internet.

Why does it matter?

All search engine indexing engines evaluate the technical aspects of your website. Since there are defined standards governing these elements, it's relatively easy to programmatically determine whether compliance has been adhered to or not. In addition to this, any errors generated by the HTML, CSS or Javascript are noted. Any non-compliance or notable errors will only bear a negative mark against the score applied to the page. It is also possible for this to have a cumulative effect on the overall score applied to the website as a whole.

So what do I do?

First and foremost is 'attention to detail'. It is critically important for the person who is responsible for your SEO to know what all the standards are, and how to evaluate and apply them. Then it's simply the laborious process of eliminating any and all issues that can be rectified, then optimising the code and the visual elements to streamline the retrieval and processing of the site. It sounds simple, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it seems that there are not a great number of operators out there that possess both the skills and the desire to perform this task satisfactorily. The industry is rife with sub-par providers taking good money from unsuspecting businesses, and they don't even do the basics of SEO. Don't believe me? Try and evaluate some SEO companies own websites. You'll be shocked.

So what's the impact?

As stated at the beginning of this article, it is actually possible to rank number 1 on search engines with only strong technical SEO, although in the case of Google, this is only true in extreme cases. I personally, have had sites ranking number one on Bing, Yahoo and others with absolutely no content, against well established played in that market. They were fully functional websites, with pages for 'About', 'Contact' etc. but had no actual content on the front page. The same sites on Google did not rank at all at first, but after a while, and a couple of entries in business directories, they started to rank, although inconsistently. This only highlights the real challenges with ranking on Google, but that's a subject for another time.

Ranking factors on the different search engines are not consistent, but some things are true across the board. Along with keywords and meaningful content, website quality definitely plays an important role. If you do not pay attention to your technical SEO, your site will be penalised, and you are unlikely to know why. There is absolutely no excuse for not doing this, it's not a black art, it does not need a magic wand, just a little bit of effort on your part (or your SEO providers part).