January 29, 2024
January 29, 2024
One of the most common questions from budding SEO professionals or businesses is wondering if they need to learn how to code to do SEO. This can often be a double-edged sword, with different answers depending on what you’re hoping to achieve. So can you do SEO without coding?
Coding is not an essential skill that SEOs need to use to complete their daily tasks. While an understanding of programming languages will help, there are many workarounds. However, understanding code will allow you to produce higher quality work and conduct more in depth technical SEO tasks.
Read on to find out if you need coding for SEO, if you need a developer for SEO, what languages are used in SEO, and what schema code is.
Do you need coding for SEO? This is a common question amongst business owners and budding SEOs. Realistically, there are two answers to this question. On the one hand, it’s completely possible to have a successful SEO career without ever touching or learning code. Many of the more technical tasks that you need to complete as an SEO can be done just as well through the use of plugins and AI. Anything else can (and really should) be completed by a developer to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
On the other hand, having a sense of how programming works at the least can help you immensely with your SEO work. Having a basic understanding of development, websites, and coding languages will assist you in many ways. You’ll be able to pick up and understand many of your SEO tasks a lot faster, such as conversion tracking in Google Tag Manager, and you’ll also find it easier to use and manage a website’s CMS. This knowledge will also enable you to conduct more advanced SEO strategies that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
When starting out in your SEO career, you don’t need to know anything about code. However as you grow in your career and want to advance your skills, it’s beneficial to have at least a basic knowledge.
While many of your SEO tasks can be done through code generators, AI, and plugins, it can get difficult when something doesn’t work as intended. In these cases, it’s useful to have a basic understanding of what the code means so that you can troubleshoot the issue, even if you wouldn’t be able to write the code in the first place.
There are also often issues that arise on websites. Being able to understand what’s causing the issue and communicate this clearly with a developer in words that they use and understand will make both of your lives a lot easier.
Many aspects of web development affect how well your SEO can perform. Because of this, it’s important that there’s somebody working on the campaign that’s able to complete development tasks.
The majority of the time, this will be your client’s developer, a sub-contracted developer, or an agency’s in-house developer. You’ll be able to send any development issues to them to complete and this will assist your SEO efforts.
However, if your client doesn’t have access to a developer (as can often happen with small budget clients), you’ll be unable to make many technical improvements unless you know web development yourself. Taking on clients like these without any coding skills on the campaign will often end in unhappy customers, so you’re a bit more limited in who you can take on as a client.
There are many languages that could be useful for SEO purposes. Most will only be useful if you work on a site that’s built using it, but some will come in handy for your tasks, no matter what site you’re working on. We’ve explained the most important languages for SEOs to understand to advance their SEO knowledge.
HTML is not actually a programming language. This is called a markup language and is used to render and display page elements on a web browser. Most websites now have an easy to use CMS where you can complete most of your SEO tasks without needing this. However, if you need to debug issues or communicate with a developer, you’ll have a much easier time if you have a basic understanding of HTML. You don’t need to have the deep understanding of HTML that a developer would have, but some of the most important aspects of SEO, such as meta tags, H tags, and structured data fall under HTML. Having a basic understanding of how it all works together is a huge benefit. This will also allow you to discuss issues with developers and understand what they report back.
On top of this, you’ll be able to recognise some SEO technical issues such as robots directives blocking indexing. While you can always ask your coworkers or a developer to take a look, it’s much easier and more efficient to check yourself, and provides a better service to your clients.
For an SEO, PHP can come in handy for many technical tasks and diagnostics for websites that are built in a PHP-based CMS. Since an example of this is WordPress, alongside many others, this accounts for a massive proportion of websites across the internet, with 76.5% of all websites built using some form of PHP.
Benefits of learning PHP include the ability to make changes to templates or functions. This enables you to complete SEO related tasks such as changing the way that titles or headers are output, which would otherwise need to go to a developer. You could also use PHP to write custom codes to automate tasks such as schema so that it’s automatically output based on the page template used.
One of the biggest benefits for SEOs is the ability to review existing code and ensure that it correctly outputs features for both bots and users. This ensures that everything is being indexed correctly and working well behind the scenes.
While PHP also isn’t necessary to start your SEO journey, you may want to consider learning the basics so that you can understand what you’re looking at, explain issues to developers, and fix basic issues yourself.
Python is a programming language that’s often used to develop web applications. While understanding Python to work on sites is useful, the true SEO benefit of Python actually comes in the form of automating your daily tasks.
Python is easy to learn and allows you to express development concepts in fewer lines of code, meaning that you can quickly and efficiently create programmes for tasks that you need to complete. Here are a few examples of SEO tasks that can be automated by using Python:
CSS can help to reduce the amount of code on your site by placing all of the instructions for styling in one place, instead of having lines of code for every style piece on every page. Optimising for this will improve the speed of a site, which in turn will improve your SEO and page speeds. As an SEO, this won’t normally be something that you need to worry about, and you certainly won’t need to code this yourself.
With that being said, understanding the basics of CSS, and how it affects a site, will be a huge benefit as you advance further in your SEO career. This will allow you to diagnose issues with site speeds, problems with how pages are shown, and even fix small issues yourself so that you don’t waste time discussing it with a developer.
Schema markup, also known as structured data, is a code that search engines can use to read and understand what’s on your web page and what it’s about. While search engines are often able to do this by crawling the page itself, it’s still worth assisting them in this process. For example, you could have a testimonial or review on the web page, and search engines should be able to attribute this as a review. If you or I look at the page, we’ll be able to see that it’s a review, however search engines might think that what the reviewer wrote is a description of the product or service. By adding this to your schema code and telling search engines that this is a review in a language that they understand, it ensures that everything is understood.
Adding schema to your pages can also add rich results when you show up in search results. Rich results are the extra pieces of information that show up around your website’s link. If you’ve ever seen a website’s rating under their meta description, this is a rich result. These can also include things like FAQs, reviews, videos, products, job postings, courses, and many others.
Schema is written in the JSON format, however you don’t necessarily need to learn this to be able to create schema. For basic schema, using ChatGPT or schema generators works perfectly fine most of the time. The only time you will need to understand JSON is for troubleshooting issues if it doesn’t work for some reason. With more complex, technical schema, you’ll almost certainly need to understand how to write the code.
With schema, the more you understand the code, the more you’ll get out of it. Learning even the basics will open up new doors for better and more advanced schema, and allow you to rank higher and add more rich results to your pages.
At Wildcat Digital, we understand that not every client has a developer available at every step of their journey. That’s why we have a number of technical SEO specialists on hand with a range of development backgrounds to provide technical support for all of your SEO needs.
Whether you have a developer or you don’t, we can help you rank higher on search engines, attract more clients, and grow your business. Our award-winning digital marketing team is on hand for any questions you may have, from SEO to website building and PPC. Get in touch with a member of our friendly team today to discuss your digital marketing needs.