Technical SEO Isn’t Dead, It’s More Like Walking Dead

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by andrewsho

And what I mean by that is Google has figured out how to automate a lot of the technical SEO things we used to take for granted as the domain of the technical SEO practitioner.

That metaphor makes sense right? Zombies are kind of like automated fixes to technical SEO problems?

Let’s just pretend it makes sense. I needed a catchy headline.

I bring this up today because two weeks ago one of our clients decided to redirect all of their blog post URLs from to They 301’d all the post URLs to their /blog/ versions and thought everything was fine.

Of course they didn’t tell the SEO peeps they were doing this and we quickly identified that they had neglected to redirect the typical WordPress blog folders like /category/, /tag/, and /author/, all of which were now 404ing.

Organic traffic behaved kind of like you would expect it to:

In SEO Speak what happened is whatever “authority” (can we come up with a better word?) these URLs have got toasted as soon as Google hit the 404s, which led to a decline in rankings for the URLs that used to be linked to from those URLs. Or something like that.

But the team had other priorities and left the folders 404ing. In fact, they are still 404ing as of this morning.

Remember that scene towards the end of the Matrix where Neo gets pummeled by Agent Smith, then somehow realizes he is one with the Matrix and can pick bullets out of the air as if they were grapes on a plate?

Well, that’s what happened to this site’s SEO this week:

In fact, organic traffic over the past two days is at its highest level since the end of March. That’s pretty good for blowing a bunch of redirects and 404ing them.

So what happened?

Seems like Google figured out all those 404ing folders were pretty useless anyways and the site was small enough that it could recrawl the whole thing several times over the past week, figure out the new configuration, and see that the structure was basically the same as it previously was.

Of course, if the site had been considerably larger, I am not so sure Google would have figured this out so quickly, or that Google would have figured it out at all. But then again if it can figure it out for a few thousand URLs, why couldn’t it figure it out for a few million URLs?

I am really struggling to wrap this up with a zombie analogy.

Instead, here’s a short video (~2 min) I posted on LinkedIN a few weeks ago about this very subject and how technical SEO has been changing.

Apologies for the video quality. As Mike Blumenthal told me,

If you know anything about my experience with synagogues as a boy, you know this is all the motivation I need.

Needless to say, I am working on some upgrades. Watch out for zombies.


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