There are many programming languages to learn.
For SEO, the programming language you choose depends on what you plan to do with that language and how you plan to implement changes from that language.
When SEO professionals create programs for SEO, they typically want to do some combination of these four things:
- Make their job easier.
- Create a faster impact by adding automated efficiencies.
- Add a talking point to their resume to help improve their job prospects.
- Become more easily aligned with the engineering team they work with.
That last one is usually the culprit, because SEO pros who don’t have programming knowledge may have a harder time identifying coding issues such as W3C validation problems, and other issues that are not easily exported from a tool.
There is also a debate that rages on in the world of SEO: Does somebody need to be a programmer (or know about programming languages) to learn SEO?
Let’s get the most obvious answer out of the way first: No, you don’t have to know how to program in order to learn SEO.
As a field, SEO is concerned with how well you can achieve rankings for targeted keyword phrases.
And most evaluation points in SEO audits are concerned with things like links, content, keyword optimization, and the like. Coding comes as a distant resolution that is meant to improve the user experience.
But, is it worth it to learn to program for SEO? Absolutely.
In addition to helping you find problems and solutions much quicker, by learning a programming language, there is a myriad of benefits that you add to your skill set.
By working to learn how to program, you do add some significant benefits to your overall skill set, and you also make things much easier from an interdepartmental perspective.
In this article, we’ll look at why SEO pros should learn a programming language and highlight the eight best programming languages to learn for SEO.
Why Should SEO Professionals Learn Programming?
Aside from the ones listed above, there are even more benefits to learning how to program for your SEO career.
Improved Relationships With Web Developers
As SEO experts, it is a job requirement to work with web developers.
After all, they are the ones who are going to implement our recommendations. It’s important to know why they are doing the things they are doing and why they make specific changes.
Knowing the “why” part of this is a significant value-add because it’s another valuable attribute that you can use to work with developer teams better and help make your changes more effective.
You don’t have to learn everything about programming to be on equal footing with developers.
You do, however, want to have a thorough understanding of the things that developers do under the hood so you can ask the important questions and provide SEO recommendations in such a way that will resonate with them.
As a result, you could see greater execution of your recommendations because you have that understanding.
In addition to improving those collaborative relationships, when you are an SEO pro, you do a lot of technical investigative work and problem-solving.
Finding these problems and solutions becomes much easier when you know the concepts and languages involved in programming.
That is what makes learning these particular aspects of web technology mandatory and not an optional endeavor.
Improved Expense Management
How can learning to code lead to improved expense management? Don’t training courses mean more expenses?
In some cases, yes. But in the majority of cases, making sure that you learn how to program means that you have an advantage over other SEO professionals who don’t know how to do so.
You also increase your competitive potential in an otherwise significantly more competitive marketplace.
By learning to program, you reduce costs because you don’t have to spend money to hire someone separately who does know how to code.
You can simply do that coding yourself. You will be able to troubleshoot code issues as well.
Improve Your Data Analysis Skills
When it comes to SEO, we are all deep in a sea of data.
At least, I hope we are all performing data analysis to inform our SEO decisions.
Learning how to program allows you to exceed your data set limits and increase your productivity many times over by automating how data sets are pulled.
If you learn something like Python, it becomes much easier to manipulate many millions of rows of data to help build graphs that put all of your analysis into easily digestible graphs for company stakeholders.
Improve Your SEO Field Literacy
As time goes on, many people are learning programming at a much younger age. It’s not uncommon nowadays to learn to program as early as elementary school.
But, by learning programming, you can help improve your SEO literacy as a result, which can put you on equal footing with many others who already know one or more programming languages.
It also helps arm you with the skills to create better insights from your data using automated AI-based solutions.
This also means that you don’t have to go through years of college to become a programmer.
Instead, you can become familiar with the basics, and this will give you enough knowledge (depending on the learning path that you choose) to be able to accomplish the many things that being a programmer does.
Best Programming Languages To Learn (For SEO)
In the world of programming, it can be very difficult to choose a programming language. From C to C#, there are a variety of uses for all of them.
Another benefit to learning to become a programmer means that you have a greater understanding when it comes to how an entire web page or document object model (DOM) is actually rendered.
In addition, you might have learned how important it is to learn HTML and CSS, so we will start there.
Here’s the thing about HTML and CSS: they are often confused with programming languages by laypersons.
However, they are not programming languages.
They are known as markup languages. There are several inherent differences between markup languages and programming languages:
Markup languages are used to layout, render, and display page elements in a web browser.
The web browser interprets the markup language and then displays the final output in a
way that humans can see.
Markup languages are not compiled. Instead, they are just there.
Programming languages, on the other hand, are much more complex. They include language that’s often interpreted by machines as machine code. But, they do not work on their own.
In order to run, they have to be compiled into a distributable package that is then unpacked by the machine it’s installed on.
From there, the machine runs the code and translates it into a human-usable graphical user interface (GUI) that allows somebody to perform the functions of the program.
In addition, programming languages have much more complex logic structures, which are necessary for everything from financial applications to video games.
This is why it’s important to differentiate between markup languages and programming languages.
For one thing, markup languages are used to display and present information.
Programming languages are used to provide information to a computer so that it can use that information to complete a particular task in an automated fashion.
Don’t be that person that confuses HTML and CSS with programming languages!
Read more: 9 HTML Tags (& 11 Attributes) You Must Know for SEO
When it comes to working with data and improving your overall data analysis, Python is the main language you will want to consider learning.
It can make that overall data analysis easier, and you can do much more sophisticated things with that data than you would otherwise.
Don’t mistake Python as “just another programming language” – it can be a very powerful programming language because of the edge that it gives you with that data analysis.
The main thing that Python has going for it, is that it already has many pre-built libraries that you can use for data analysis.
Compared to a language like R, its robust library will allow you to accomplish many different tasks than you would have been able to otherwise.
For example, one solution you could do with Python is to compile data from multiple sources into one presentable file.
Another solution you can execute with Python is to develop a GUI application that helps you combine files from Article Forge into single articles.
The ideas that you can use Python for are endless.
Read more: An Introduction To Python & Machine Learning For Technical SEO
Learning this language has the ability to help you achieve a number of things, including making dynamic changes to your content, and controlling how your browser windows perform.
In addition, it also helps to coordinate the communication of client-side scripts.
There are also a number of SEO purposes for it, from creating headless CMS themes, to processing forms data, and creating improved user experiences.
It can perform all of this interaction without the need for complex compilers or additional plug-ins.
This could interfere with how Google reads the images, and thus could also interfere with how Google reads the content of the page overall.
This can help you make better recommendations to your developers.
3. PHP – Hypertext Preprocessor
PHP is known as the hypertext preprocessor programming language. This is actually a server-side programming language that was designed for web development.
But it can also be used for general-purpose programming.
In fact, here are some examples of platforms that use PHP to run their backend: WordPress, Buy Facebook Verified, Digg.
Most SEO professionals work with WordPress, although there are several different contenders for the best web development platform, including Squarespace. With WordPress, however, it’s all programmed with PHP.
The thing about PHP, however, is that it doesn’t have as much of an impact on the rendered code, HTML, and CSS.
To become a more effective SEO pro, if that is your goal, you want to look at learning HTML and CSS, deeper than something like PHP.
Although it doesn’t hurt your resume to have a server-side programming language at your disposal.
Read more: A Guide to Popular PHP Frameworks for Beginners
4. Go (Golang)
Golang was designed to be a higher-performance programming language developed by Google itself.
It has a better advantage over other programming languages like Python, because it is not an interpreted language. Because of this, it’s much faster than Python, and it can utilize multiple CPU threads without too much extra work.
If you’re just getting into programming, it’s one of those programming languages that’s great to learn and experiment with at the outset.
There are several variations of the C programming language, including C, C++, and C#.
C is a machine programming language used to develop automated programs to make life easier for the SEO professional.
Even though it was first published around 40 years ago (invented in 1972 and then published in 1978), it’s still one of the most popular programming languages in use today.
Some older programmers are of the opinion that C is one of the best languages to start with because many other programming languages build off of the concepts in C.
There is also the suggestion that it may likely be better from a security perspective because there are fewer people using it, which makes it a less desirable attack target for would-be hackers.
C++ is actually considered more of an “extension” to C.
Developed by Bjarne Stroustrup in Denmark, his goal for C++ was to add enhancements for C such as object-oriented programming abilities, all without losing speed or efficiency.
C# was developed by a team over at Microsoft. This particular iteration of C is based on the .NET framework. This language utilizes a compiling process that uses byte-code, instead of machine code.
The difference is that this code executes on a virtual machine that translates the code into machine-readable code almost instantaneously.
C# is most often used for enterprise applications, as opposed to commercial software. As such, it’s most often utilized for client and server development that utilizes the .NET framework.
8. R – A Programming Language for Statistical and Data Analysis
R is one of those programming languages that is often used for SEO when it comes to creating applications for utilizing predictive analysis. It’s a free programming language that also comes with a free software environment. It’s important to note, however, that it was originally created for statistical and data analysis purposes. For these reasons, that’s why R is a good language to know for predictive analytics applications.
In addition to SEO, it’s widely used by professions such as data mining, statisticians, and more. These professionals utilize R to create software that’s used in the analysis of data as well as statistical software.
While it was originally intended to be used by statisticians, it has turned into a language with great power which can be used for everything from analytics to machine learning. However, predictive analysis is primarily how R is utilized because it can process data.
A wide variety of data structures can be processed by R, which includes vectors, lists, and arrays.
One of the many advantages of R is that it is open-source, which means that many of its libraries and code materials are available online for free, with additional community support. When you have strong backing from a community with open-source software, it becomes easier than ever to find solutions that may otherwise be more difficult to attain.
What can you use it for in SEO? In SEO, you can use R to create data-driven programs that crawl and spider the web looking for data to compile and display. It becomes even more useful when looking at massive sites with thousands upon thousands of pages. In other words, if you’re looking for a way to scale programming with data for massive sites, then R might be the programming language you may want to learn.
In addition, by using predictive analysis with this SEO information, you could potentially develop solutions with R that give you an edge over your competitors.
What Can You Do With These Languages For SEO?
Well, for starters, you could create an application that helps you compile all of your scraped SEO data into display output for presentations.
You can also develop scraping applications.
In addition, you could potentially develop other types of applications, including those for link analysis and other applications, which you can then sell as a subscription service to the SEO community.
The possibilities are endless with these types of programming languages. Plus, the more you can automate with programming languages, the more you can help free up your time for more important tasks.
Learning A Programming Language Has Many Benefits
As an SEO professional, learning a programming language can have many benefits for your SEO career.
From improving your communication with developers to enhancing the automation of repetitive tasks, it’s possible to increase your production tenfold by taking the leap and learning a programming language.
Plus, you also help your peers by leveling up your data analysis.
When do you plan on taking a deep dive and learning a programming language to level up your SEO?
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