BEST PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE FOR SEO

Matthew Carter
Hello friends, my name is Matthew Carter. I’m a professional link builder for a large SEO agency in New York City.

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PORTFOLIO

I still have to look up the proper syntax for almost every line of code I write.

What I will spend time learning about is what these programs can and cannot do.

And even if one does possess all of these skills, no one is a master of all of them.

Putting a technically minded SEO in charge of building links is usually a mistake.

When you work to automate link building, you run into issues that could get you in hot water with Google.

There Are Different Types of SEO.

Quality link building is about creativity and relationship building.

You don’t want me to code your website.

Personally, I consider myself an SEO generalist.

I know when to find someone else to help when the task is beyond my skill set.

You end up with a ton of links that may get your site penalized or useless links that weren’t worth the code was written to obtain them.

If you can code tools in Python while standing on your head and reciting W3C compliance statistics, that’s awesome.

But I do have gifts.

Any task that requires exceptional detail will take me twice as long as most people to finish.

An SEO unicorn is an individual that has all the skills needed to do every aspect of search engine optimization.

Python, JavaScript & Automation – Oh My!

That means that I have some skill in all of these items – but I’m not the master of any of them.

Bottom line: you can be a great SEO without coding a single line.

And when I finish a detailed task, I will be physically and mentally drained.

Does that make me a bad SEO professional?

There is a movement in the SEO community encouraging practitioners to upgrade their coding skills.

But I can look at someone else’s HTML and spot most errors – specifically errors that will affect how the page is crawled by search engines.

SEO Unicorns Are Rare.

SEO professionals are being encouraged to learn coding languages that can help them automate many of the tasks that are typically done manually.

I’ve been coding in HTML for more than 25 years.

Many of my technically minded friends try to automate every task – including tasks that should not be automated.

This can get them into trouble.

I need to know that Python can help optimize images, but it can’t create persuasive language that will drive a customer to take a particular action.

Many of my technically-minded SEO friends think that if you don’t have an HTML library sitting in the recesses of your head, you have no right to call your self a search engine marketer.

For example, I need to know that PANDAs is a data manipulation tool that works with Python.

So I'm coming at this from the position of a consultant who does both SEO and software development work. I would say that it really depends on where you actually want to go with programming. If you're looking to get more into technical SEO (thus this subreddit) I'd say that JavaScript is your best bet. I say so for the following reasons:

Javascript because it can solve a lot of e-commerce SEO issues and manipulate the DOM to alter tag attributes.

You'll learn how to "think" like a crawler a bit more. As you get a bit more of an in-depth understanding of how a web page/DOM is rendered you'll understand the advantages/disadvantages of many common JS tasks (SPAs, AJAX, front-end frameworks, performance, etc. ).

It can be used both client-side and server-side.

It's everywhere.

I wouldn't even say you need ML to make python valuable for SEO. You don't need ML for regressions, collecting data from the web, etc etc etc. Just being able to access websites (scraping) and analyzing that information against SEMRush data programmatically or other data is valuable. I like python as a strong platform/language to base web data collection and ad hoc analysis.

Howdy folks. When I first started SEO I learned some HTML/CSS. That has been one of the most useful hard skills I learned. Now I'm at the point where I'm looking to level up my skills again, but I don't know what I don't know.

You can use Puppeteer (headless Chrome). This is effectively what Google uses to render sites. Note you can use headless Chrome in other languages but the tooling isn't as robust as it is in Puppeteer.

If you're looking to get into more of the data science/analytics side of things then Python is the way to go. I'd recommend it because it's quite approachable/beginner friendly and has some really powerful/useful libraries that don't exist in other languages (SciPy, NumPy, and Pandas for example). I've personally been starting to teach myself Machine Learning and Python is the go-to language for that.

Python because it’s a good language for ML and that can do some trick stuff in analyzing data and toying with predicting SERP movement based some site changes.

I’d vote for Javascript and Python.

Hence the question, what's best? I've heard a lot of good things about Python for SEO, but JS is kind of a standard it seems. Any thoughts from this community? Which would you recommend and why?

Whatever language the website is written in, if you need to go that deep. A basic understanding of JavaScript (and how it impacts SEO) would probably be a good idea, especially for modern sites that use client-side rendering JS frameworks like React, Vue, and Angular.

SEO could mean all kinds of things that require changing though. editing HTML, tweaking configs in WordPress, editing CMS data in a database, or as deep as changing an application to support server-side rendering instead of purely client-side, and the list goes on. Whatever site you're working with, you'll need an understanding of the software they use to host, deploy and render it, so you can work with it to tweak what's necessary.

A more recent development was that I picked up Golang, which is a high(er) performance language that was developed by Google. I learned Go mostly to overcome a disadvantage that all of the other languages I use have, they're interpreted. When doing data extraction from HTML files, for example, Go is much faster than Python because it can take advantage of multiple CPU cores/threads without a ton of extra work. Learning it is not for the faint of heart, but the language itself is actually quite small and was purposefully designed to be both ergonomic and performant.

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