The SEO’s essential guide to web technology

The SEO’s essential guide to web technology

February 22, 2018 5:02 pm

As an search engine optimization skilled, your position will invariably lead you to interactions with individuals in all kinds of roles together with enterprise house owners, marketing managers, content material creators, hyperlink builders, PR businesses, and builders.

That final one – builders – is a catch-all time period that may embody software engineers, coders, programmers, entrance- and again-finish builders, and IT professionals of varied varieties. These are the parents who write the code and/or usually handle the underlying numerous net applied sciences that comprise and energy web sites.

In your position as an search engine optimization, it might or is probably not practicable so that you can utterly grasp programming languages reminiscent of C++ and Java, or scripting languages similar to PHP and JavaScript, or markup languages comparable to HTML, XML, or the stylesheet language CSS.

And, there are lots of extra programming, scripting, and markup languages on the market – it might be a Herculean process to be a grasp of each type of language, even when your position is full-time programmer and never web optimization.

However, it's important for you, as an web optimization skilled, to know the varied languages and applied sciences and know-how stacks on the market that comprise the online. Whenever you’re making search engine optimisation suggestions, which builders will probably be executing, you want to perceive their mindset, their ache factors, what their job is like – and also you want to have the ability to converse their language.

You don’t need to know all the things builders know, however you need to have an excellent grasp of what builders do with the intention to ask higher questions and supply search engine optimisation suggestions in a method that resonates with them, and people suggestions usually tend to be executed consequently.

Whenever you converse their language, and perceive what their world is like, you’re contributing to a collaborative setting the place everybody’s pulling on the identical aspect of the rope for a similar constructive outcomes.

And naturally, apart from constructing collaborative relationships, being knowledgeable search engine optimization includes a number of technical detective work and drawback detection and prevention, so understanding numerous features of net know-how isn't elective; it’s obligatory.

Net tech may be complicated and intimidating, however hopefully this information will assist make issues somewhat simpler for you and fill in some blanks in your understanding.

Let’s leap proper in!

The web vs. the World Vast Net

Most individuals use these phrases interchangeably, however technically the 2 phrases don't imply the identical factor, though they're associated.

The Web started as a decentralized community of unbiased interconnected computer systems.

The US Division of Protection was concerned over time and awarded contracts, together with for the event of the ARPANET (Superior Analysis Tasks Company Community) venture, which was an early packet switching community and first to make use of TCP/IP (Transmission Management Protocol and Web Protocol).

The ARPANET challenge led to “webworking” the place numerous networks of computer systems could possibly be joined into a bigger “community of networks”.

The event of the World Large Net is credited to British pc scientist Sir Tim Beners-Lee within the Nineteen Eighties; he developed linking hypertext paperwork, which resulted in an info-sharing mannequin constructed “on prime” of the Web.

Paperwork (net pages) have been specified to be formatted in a markup language referred to as “HTML” (Hypertext Markup Language), and could possibly be linked to one another utilizing “hyperlinks” that customers might click on to navigate to different net pages.

Additional studying:

  • Historical past of the Web
  • Historical past of the World Large Net


Hosting, or internet hosting for brief, are providers that permit individuals and companies to place an internet web page or a website on the web. Internet hosting corporations have banks of computer systems referred to as “servers” that aren't completely dissimilar in nature to computer systems you’re already acquainted with, however in fact there are variations.

There are numerous forms of website hosting corporations that provide a variety of providers along with website hosting; such providers might embrace area identify registration, website builders, e-mail addresses, website safety providers, and extra.

Briefly, a number is the place web sites are revealed.

Additional studying:

  • Net Internet hosting Service

Net servers

An internet server is a pc that shops net paperwork and assets. Net servers obtain requests from shoppers (browsers) for net pages, photographs, and so forth. Once you go to an internet web page, your browser requests all of the assets/information wanted to render that net web page in your browser. It goes one thing like this:

Shopper (browser) to server: “Hey, I would like this net web page, please present all of the textual content, pictures and different stuff you've gotten for that web page.”

Server to shopper: “Okay, right here it's.”

Numerous elements impression how shortly the online web page will show (render) together with the velocity of the server and the dimensions(s) of the varied information being requested.

There are three server varieties you’ll most frequently encounter:

  1. Apache is open-supply, free software suitable with many working methods similar to Linux. An typically-used acronym is “LAMP stack” referring to a bundling of Linux, Apache, MySQL (relational database) and PHP (a server-aspect scripting language).
  2. IIS stands for “Web Info Providers” and is proprietary software made by Microsoft. An IIS server is also known as a “Home windows Server” as a result of it runs on Home windows NT working techniques.
  3. NGINX – pronounced “Engine X”, is billed as a excessive-efficiency server capable of additionally deal with load balancing, used as a reverse proxy, and extra. Their said objectives and cause for being embrace outperforming different varieties of servers.

Additional studying:

  • Apache
  • IIS

Server log information

Typically shortened to “log information”, these are data of sever exercise in response to requests made for net pages and related assets corresponding to pictures. Some servers might already be configured to report this exercise, others will have to be configured to take action.

Log information are the “actuality” of what’s occurring with an internet site and can embrace info such because the web page or file requested, date and time stamp of the request, the consumer agent making the request, the response sort (discovered, error, redirected, and so forth.), the referrer, and some different gadgets resembling bytes served and shopper IP handle.

SEOs ought to get accustomed to parsing log information. To enter this matter in additional element, learn JafSoft’s rationalization of an internet server log file pattern.


FTP stands for File Switch Protocol, and it’s the way you add useful resource information resembling webpages, photographs, XML Sitemaps, robots.txt information, and PDF information to your hosting account to make these useful resource information obtainable and viewable on the Net by way of browsers. There are free FTP software program packages you need to use for this objective.

The interface is a well-known file-folder tree construction the place you’ll see your native machine’s information on the left, and the distant server’s information on the suitable. You'll be able to drag and drop native information to the server to add. Voila, you’ve put information onto the web! For extra element, Wired has a superb information on FTP for learners.

Area identify

A website identify is a string of (often) textual content and is utilized in a URL (Uniform Useful resource Locator). Protecting this easy, for the URL https://www.web, “web site” is the area identify. For extra element, take a look at the Wikipedia article on domains.

Root area & subdomain

A root area is what we generally consider as a website identify comparable to “web site” within the URL https://www.web A subdomain is the www. a part of the URL. Different examples of subdomains can be information.web, merchandise.web, help.web and so forth.

For extra info on the distinction between a website and a subdomain, take a look at this video from HowTech.


URL stands for “Common Useful resource Locator” (reminiscent of https://www.web page) and URI stands for “Uniform Useful resource Identifier” and is a subset of a full URL (comparable to /this-is-a-web page.html). Extra information right here.

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

I’ve grouped collectively HTML, CSS, and JavaScript right here not as a result of every don’t deserve their very own part right here, however as a result of it’s good for SEOs to know that these three languages are what comprise a lot of how trendy net pages are coded (with many exceptions in fact, and a few of these might be famous elsewhere right here).

HTML stands for “Hypertext Markup Language”, and it’s the unique and foundational language of net pages on the World Vast Net.

CSS stands for “Cascading Fashion Sheets” and is a method sheet language used to type and place HTML parts on an internet web page, enabling separation of presentation and content material.

JavaScript (to not be confused with the programming language “Java”) is a shopper-aspect scripting language to create interactive options on net pages.

Additional studying:

  • HTML intro
  • CSS intro
  • JavaScript intro


AJAX stands for “Asynchronous JavaScript And XML. Asynchronous means the shopper/browser and the server can work and talk independently permitting the consumer to proceed interplay with the online web page unbiased of what’s occurring on the server. JavaScript is used to make the asynchronous server requests and when the server responds JavaScript modifies the web page content material exhibited to the consumer. Knowledge despatched asynchronously from the server to the shopper is packaged in an XML format, so it may be simply processed by JavaScript. This reduces the visitors between the shopper and the server which will increase response time and velocity.

XML stands for “Extensible Markup Language” and is just like HMTL utilizing tags, parts, and attributes and was designed to each retailer and transport knowledge, whereas HTML is used to show knowledge. For the needs of search engine optimisation, the most typical utilization of XML is in XML Sitemap information.

Structured knowledge (AKA,

Structured knowledge is markup you possibly can add to the HTML of a web page to assist search engines higher perceive the content material of the web page, or at the least sure parts of that web page. Through the use of the authorised normal codecs, you present further info that makes it simpler for search engines to parse the pertinent knowledge on the web page.

Widespread makes use of of structured knowledge are to markup sure elements of recipes, literary works, merchandise, locations, occasions of varied varieties, and rather more. was launched on June 2, 2011, as a collaborative effort by Google, Bing and Yahoo (quickly after joined by Yandex) to create a standard set of agreed-upon and standardized set of schemas for structured knowledge markup on net pages. Since then, the time period “” has develop into synonymous with the time period “structured knowledge”, and structured knowledge varieties are regularly evolving with new varieties being added with relative frequency.

One of many most important takeaways about structured knowledge is that it helps disambiguate knowledge for search engines to allow them to extra simply perceive info and knowledge, and that sure marked-up parts might end in further info being displayed in Search Engines Outcomes Pages (SERPs), corresponding to evaluation stars, recipe cooking occasions, and so forth. Observe that including structured knowledge is just not a assure of such SERP options.

There are a selection of structured knowledge vocabularies that exist, however JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Knowledge) has emerged as Google’s most popular and beneficial technique of doing structured knowledge markup per the tips, however different codecs are additionally supported reminiscent of microdata and RDFa.

JSON-LD is simpler so as to add to pages, simpler to take care of and alter, and fewer vulnerable to errors than microdata which have to be wrapped round present HML parts, whereas JSON-LD could be added as a single block within the HTML head part of an internet web page.

Right here is the FAQ web page for additional investigation – and to get began utilizing microdata, RDFa and JSON-LD, take a look at our full newbie’s information to markup.

Entrance-finish vs. again-finish, shopper-aspect vs. server-aspect

You might have talked to a developer who stated, “I’m a entrance-finish developer” and questioned what that meant. Of you might have heard somebody say “oh, that’s a again-finish performance”. It may possibly appear complicated what all this implies, nevertheless it’s simply clarified.

“Entrance-finish” and “shopper-aspect” each imply the identical factor: it occurs (executes) within the browser. For instance, JavaScript was initially developed as one thing that executed on an internet web page within the browser, and meaning with out having to make a name to the server.

“Again-finish” and “server-aspect” each imply the identical factor: it occurs (executes) on a server. For instance, PHP is a server-aspect scripting language that executes on the server, not within the browser. Some Content material Administration Techniques (CMS for brief) like WordPress use PHP-based mostly templates for net pages, and the content material is known as from the server to show within the browser.

Programming vs. scripting languages

Engineers and builders do have differing explanations and definitions of phrases. Some will say finally there’s no variations or that the strains are blurry, however the usually accepted distinction between a programming language (like C or Pascal) vs. a scripting language (like JavaScript or PHP) is that a programming language requires an specific compiling step, whereas human-created, human-readable code is became a selected set of machine-language directions comprehensible by a pc.

Content material Administration System (CMS)

A CMS is a software program software or a set of associated packages used to create and handle web sites (or we will use the flamboyant time period “digital content material”). On the core, you need to use a CMS to create, edit, publish, and archive net pages, weblog posts, and articles and can sometimes have numerous constructed-in options.

Utilizing a CMS to create an internet site signifies that there isn't a have to create any code from scratch, which is among the essential causes CMS’ have broad attraction.

One other widespread facet of CMS’ are plugins, which might be built-in with the core CMS to increase functionalities which aren't a part of the core CMS function listing.

Widespread CMS’ embrace WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, ExpressionEngine, Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify, Squarespace, and there are various, many others.

Learn extra right here about Content material Administration Techniques.

Content material Supply Community (CDN)

Typically referred to as a “Content material Distribution Community”, CDNs are giant networks of servers that are geographically dispersed with the objective of serving net content material from a server location nearer to the shopper making the request with a view to scale back latency (switch delay).

CDNs cache copies of your net content material throughout these servers, after which servers nearest to the web site customer serve the requested net content material. CDNs are used to offer excessive availability together with excessive efficiency. Extra information right here.


Net knowledge is handed between computer systems by way of knowledge packets of code. Shoppers (net browsers) function the consumer interface once we request an internet web page from a server. HTTP (hypertext switch protocol) is the communication technique a browser makes use of to “speak to” a server and make requests. HTTPS is the safe model of this (hypertext switch protocol safe).

Web site house owners can change their web site to HTTPS to make the reference to customers safer and fewer vulnerable to “man within the center assaults” the place a 3rd celebration intercepts or probably alters the communication.

SSL refers to “safe sockets layer” and is a regular safety protocol to determine communication encryption between the server and the browser. TLS, Transport Layer Safety, is a extra-current model of SSL

  • Extra information on HTTPS, SSL, & TLS

HTTP/1.1 & HTTP/2

When Tim Berners-Lee invented the HTTP protocol in 1989, the pc he used didn't have the processing energy and reminiscence of at this time’s computer systems. A shopper (browser) connecting to a server utilizing HTTP/1.1 receives info in a sequence of community request-response transactions, that are also known as “spherical journeys” to the server, typically referred to as “handshakes”.

Every spherical journey takes time, and HTTPS is an HTTP reference to SSL/TSL layered during which requires but-one other handshake with the server. All of this takes time, inflicting latency. What was quick sufficient then is just not essentially quick sufficient now.

HTTP/2 is the primary new model of HTTP since 1.1. Merely put, HTTP/2 permits the server to ship extra assets to the shopper/browser quicker than HTTP/1.1 by using multiplexing, compression, request prioritization, and server push which permits the server to ship assets to the shopper that haven't but been requested.

Additional studying:

  • HTTP/2 FAQ
  • What's HTTP/2 and the way does it profit search engine marketing?

Software Programming Interface (API)

Software is a common time period that, merely put, refers to a kind of software program that may carry out particular duties. Purposes embrace software program, net browsers, and databases.

An API is an interface with an software, sometimes a database. The API is sort of a messenger that takes requests, tells the system what you need, and returns the response again to you.

When you’re in a restaurant and need the kitchen to make you a sure dish, the waiter who takes your order is the messenger that communicates between you and the kitchen, which is analogous to utilizing an API to request and retrieve info from a database. For more information, take a look at Wikipedia’s Software programming interface web page.


If you wish to construct an internet site at this time, you've gotten many decisions.

You possibly can construct it from scratch utilizing HTML for content material supply together with CSS for feel and appear and JavaScript for interactive parts.

Or you may use a CMS (content material administration system) like WordPress, Magento, or Drupal.

Or you can construct it with AMP, PWA, or SPA.

AMP stands for Accelerated Cellular Pages and is an open supply Google initiative which is a specified set of HTML tags and numerous performance elements that are ever-evolving. The upside to AMP is lightning-quick loading net pages when coded in line with AMP specs, the draw back is a few desired options will not be at present supported, and points with correct analytics monitoring.

Additional studying:

  • What is going to Google’s Accelerated Cellular Pages imply for entrepreneurs?
  • Accelerated Cellular Pages (AMP) one yr on: stats and infographic
  • Accelerated Cellular Pages vs Fb Prompt Articles: Is Google profitable the cellular warfare?

PWA stands for Progressive Net App, and it blends one of the best of each worlds between conventional web sites and cell phone apps. PWAs ship a local app-like expertise to customers akin to push notifications, the power to work offline, and create a begin icon in your cell phone.

Through the use of “service staff” to speak between the shopper and server, PWAs combines quick-loading net pages with the power to behave like a local cell phone app on the similar time. Nevertheless, as a result of PWAs are JavaScript frameworks, chances are you'll encounter quite a lot of technical challenges.

Additional studying:

  • Progressive Net Apps versus Android Prompt Apps: Which is best for entrepreneurs?
  • Google I/O: What’s happening with Progressive Net Apps?

SPAs – Single Web page Purposes – are totally different from conventional net pages which load every web page a consumer requests in a session by way of repeated communications with the server. SPAs, against this, run contained in the browser and new pages seen in a consumer session don’t require web page reloading by way of server requests.

The first benefits of SPAs embrace streamlined and simplified improvement, and a really quick consumer expertise. The first disadvantages embrace potential issues with search engine optimisation, as a result of serps’ inconsistent means to parse content material served by JavaScript. Debugging points can be harder and take up extra developer time.

It’s value noting that future success of every of those net applied sciences finally will depend on developer adoption.


Clearly, it might require a really lengthy ebook to cowl each little bit of net know-how, and in adequate element, however this information ought to present you, the skilled web optimization, with useful information to fill in a number of the blanks in your understanding of varied key points of net know-how.

I’ve offered many hyperlinks on this article that function leaping off factors for any subjects you want to discover additional. There’s little question that there are lots of extra subjects SEOs have to be conversant with, corresponding to robots.txt information, meta robots tags, rel canonical tags, XML Sitemaps, server response codes, and far more.

In closing, right here’s a pleasant article on the Stanford web site titled “How Does The Web Work?” that you simply may discover fascinating studying; you will discover that right here.

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