Is SEO Technical? Can Non-technical people do SEO?

"SEO Graphic"Is SEO technical? Yes, of course it is. Can non-technical people do SEO?  Many people will disagree with me, but I believe the answer to that question is yes.

Some of the technical obstacles that previously prevented non-technical people from playing an active role in executing an SEO strategy no longer exist. Armed with the right knowledge a non-technical person can execute a successful SEO strategy without  knowing how to code.

Why is SEO “Technical?”

In the early days of eCommerce and website development, there was no separation between the user interface and the back-end logic of a website. I remember the days when a change as small as updating the feature image and content on the home page had to go through a developer. Even updating the keywords meta tag required a formal request.

Back then, most websites were a mess (many still are). They were developed with little to no understanding of how search engines work. This resulted in many problems as it related to SEO. Issues with the website structure and coding practices made it difficult for search engines to crawl and index the content. I still shudder when I recall the laundry list of issues that could only be fixed through making significant back end coding changes.

It didn’t take long before the developers of the world got tired of updating the home page and meta tags. Changes in website architecture and tools such as content management systems emerged. Now almost every new website comes with a content management system that enables non-technical people to update content images and even those “technical” components of a web page such as:

  • Page titles
  • Meta descriptions
  • Heading tags
  • URL structure
  • Alt Text
  • Anchor text
  • File names

There are technical aspects of SEO such as, duplicate content, broken links, and redirects that will most likely always require technical solutions, but I would argue that for most part, once the initial set of technical issues has been resolved a non-technical person can take it from there.

 Can Non-technical people do SEO?

SEO is a Creative Process Like Drawing or WritingIt’s been said that SEO is part art and part science, I believe this to be true. I also believe that non-technical people can do SEO.

(For clarification, I’m defining a technical person as someone who know their way around the code and a non-technical person is one who doesn’t.)

In my opinion, once the technical issues have been addressed is when the ‘real’ SEO starts to take place, it’s when we further optimize the search experience. It’s the creative process of communicating how you can help people. The key is communicating in such a way that both people and search engines find the content relevant to the searchers intent.

It takes creativity and discipline to listen and tune into the words and phrases people are using when they talk about your products or services.

Imagination is the fuel for catchy headlines, content that tells a story, and adds value to someone’s day.

Research plays a key role in understanding your target audience and helps you their pain points, core values, and motivators.

Communication skills are essential for crafting a meaningful message and creating a network of real people and real relationships.

Business acumen is required to analyze data, interpret results, and adjust strategies.

Creating a unique selling proposition, or in other words relating to your prospects needs and values in a way no one else does, involves marketing insights and maybe even a little psychology.

These are the ingredients for a successful SEO strategy, and they can all be executed by a non-technical person.

Non-technical people can do SEO, but…

it can’t be done in a vacuum.

It’s important for non-technical people to understand the fundamentals of SEO so they can be better business partners with their web developer or the folks in IT. I also believe “technical” SEO professionals have a responsibility to explain key concepts in a way that’s clear and meaningful.

Is it possible to do SEO without technical resources? Absolutely not.

While I believe that once a website is fundamentally correct from an SEO perspective a non-technical person can take the ball and run with it, I’m a also a huge fan of regular check ups. The web is an ever changing landscape; links break, search engines update algorithms, and new opportunities develop that may require technical skills and knowledge to implement.

For the record, I’m not saying that technical people can’t execute the “art” of SEO – some of the most creative and business savvy people I know are technical. I just think sometimes those of us in the SEO profession have a tendency to over complicate things and make them more “technical” than they actually are.

What are your thoughts?