Is it important to learn programming languages for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
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It depends upon exactly what you're doing within the scope of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I think it's very beneficial to at least be able to read and make basic sense of code for many jobs – and a good understanding of HTML and CSS (more markup, than code, really – but it often gets grouped in there) is great for EVERYONE who works on the web.
You don't need to be a "coder" per se, but… imagine you're adding content and you can't remember the style class I told you to put into the block to make it have that bright outline and cool button style. It's definitely handy and faster to go to another page with that block on it, inspect the code, and spot the proper Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) class name to use than it is to email me, ask me for the 30th time, and wait for my disgruntled response.
Full SEO *requires* the someone optimise the code, understand the capabilities of the materials worked with, etc. Someone can get a long way with brilliant copywriting alone relying on the devs of whatever platform to have done the SEO for them, but that's the point – the devs of the platform did the SEO, all you added was copywriting. Someone who writes copy is called a copywriter, not an SEO.
Hey I just posted about h1 and spans readability by Google (pending approval), I hope you can clear my confusion as you know programming.
I'm a bit astonished with some responses here. In my opinion, SEO is 10 % programming related. Although HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a huge bonus (those are no programming languages), I've hardly encountered many situations that would've required programming skills.
Its a bit of a Dunning-Kruger thing: If you don't have programming skills, you can't recognize where they would be useful, where the existing ones could be improved, etc.
Anyone not tweaking the php of WordPress to customise it, and is just relying on the same themes and tools hundreds of others have is throwing away even the chance to a technical edge. Have you never heard of anyone using WordPress?
Mann » Ammon
I am confident with HTML, CSS and even some small JS and PHP issues. The thing is, when i encounter programming related issues or need a small custom plugin, i hire an expert that does the job in 15 mins professionally instead of doing it myself raging around and risking to have a shitty solution. That way i can focus on my main task, which is SEO.
Ammon 🎓 » Mann
And without your coding knowledge, do you feel as confident you'd know what to ask for, or even who to ask?
Likewise, when working with clients, while I may not ever touch the code, or be allowed to, it is absolutely essential that I can communicate quickly and effectively with those who do, and NOT look like an idiot. Heck, for several clients just my being able to go in and act as a translator and intermediary for the marketing guys and the tech guys is massive for the fortunes of the company, as so often those departments just don't speak each other's language. The guy who speaks both languages is someone like us, an SEO, or similar consultant who deals with both worlds.
But a non-tech SEO doesn't deal with both worlds. He's colour blind, in a job where he has to advise on things in full colour.
Mann » Ammon
I agree on your points. Communication without speaking each department's languages must be a huge PITA.
Amir » Mann
That is not true, programming is heavily needed in SEO.
Mann » Amir
I guess we have to differentiate between "tasks required for SEO" and "tasks that are actual SEO".
Amir » Mann
I get what you are saying, lets say your "SEO" today would be good enough to be your "SEO-guy" in two or three years? That will require programming; it's already happening. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is changing because of data science, python, holistic SEO, server-side issue, SEO might be an OnPage content optimizer, a project manager over SEO projects, but that technical guy will have an edge, Google changing tons of things on a daily basis will define rules in the coming years. SEO is becoming advanced with every passing day, which is good but requires more skills than before.
HTML and CSS aren't programming languages. And yes they are essential.
Beyond that, it depends what you want to do and what types of sites you work with. But no point unless you're actively using it, because you won't remember it well enough or keep up with it.
You're going to be much more effective if you get a good understanding of html, css, and php. In my opinion, that's all you need. And you don't need to know those languages in and out. You should know enough to quality check and modify other people's work.
Focus on SEO techniques rather then programming languages (optimize YouTube channel, gmb, Google maps, ..) and use these as embeds in your WordPress, weebly or whatever cms pages. Knowing Css is good to know for ui tweaking
It is nice to have, but it is not a requirement. Unless you want to focus on the in-depth things about your website like fixing the site or page speed, tweaking some appearance on your website and a lot more about technical things. Because the technical things/errors on your website can be coordinated with the web dev.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is marketing after all. In which you have to master the SEO methodologies and how to apply it well to be able to take your client's business on the first page, and how you can help them get more leads and conversions (income is still the final goal here).
If one wants to be a proficient technical SEO, yes, absolutely. One ought to at least grasp the basics of HTML / CSS and JS.
It is also important that one wrestles with regular expressions, especially for Google Search Console (GSC) and site crawlers.
Last, but not least, if one wanted to build SEO tools, one would have to learn old school Python.
It would also be advised to get foundational knowledge in what goes around "under the hood", meaning SQL, understand how CDNs work, what the different server error codes mean and how they come about.
If the goal is to throw oneself into hardcore theme programming and / or plugin development or optimisation, one should also have a solid grasp on PHP.
In general, an SEO will work with a dev. However, in my opinion, it is important that the SEO also understands fundamental principles and is able to get his own hands dirty from time to time.
For the record, I have encountered the same question in different SEO groups and have given more or less the same response. There are always a few jokers, who laugh disparagingly and comment something along the lines of "Bro, why do I need to know coding? I'm an SEO." I would run a million miles in the other direction when encountering such "SEO professionals" in the wild.