Search Engine Optimization is an integral part of every modern, successful website. Without good search visibility, monetising your content or using your website for business is going to be difficult. However, even tho most of website owners are aware of the potential and importance of the Search Engine Optimisation they often come to SEO consultants and agencies after they had their website built already. I often see new websites built without SEO best practices and not optimized for conversions with potential customers either not visiting the website at all or leaving without buying anything.
This is not a good way to go about this, in fact, they should seek SEO advice before they build a website. This also applies to web designers and developers, they should keep SEO in mind when building new websites. Of course developers are experts in their own field and not in SEO, however, there are some simple things which can make a big difference.
In this post, we’re going to look into 10 things which developers should know about Search Engine Optimisation.
1) URL structure
Good URL structure can make or break the website. The URL structure of the website should be based on a detailed, thorough keyword research. The best practice for URLs is to have shorter human readable URLs which include relevant, well-researched keywords. If possible, avoid dynamic parameters.
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2) Site Speed
Google is big on speed and fast websites provide users with a much better experience. After all, nobody likes slow loading websites. This is even more important when it comes to mobile, the usage of smartphones has been growing at an amazing rate over the last years. Fortunately, there are free tools to help developers with optimizing websites for speed. One of such tools is Google’s own page speed insights.
3) Responsive design is important for SEO
This one goes hand in hand with the point above about optimizing for speed. Google favors websites which are optimized for mobile devices. Again, there is a free online tool from Google which can be used by developers to see if their page is mobile friendly by Google’s standards.
4) How to use robots.txt
This is a big one. Robots.txt file is used to give instructions (about your website) to various web robots like the search engine spiders. Although many developers are familiar with the robots.txt, I still see websites in development stage being indexed by Google and other search engines. This can potentially create a number of issues which will have an adverse effect on the SEO. Issues like duplicate content for example. This is why every developer should know how and when to use a robots.txt as well as meta robots tag.
5) How to use redirects
We have already mentioned how important it is to get the URL structure right from the start and how URLs should look like. There is, however, one more, very important thing. Arguably, just as important as having the correct URL structure. I’m talking about redirects here. Every time a URL is changing, this change will affect it’s authority and rank in the search engines. Search engines will see that URL as a completely new page. The way to redirect this authority is to use correct redirects. The best SEO practice is to use 301 redirects when you are making changes to your URL’s. This will ensure that the traffic and link juice are passed on yo the new URL.
6) How website structure can create duplicate content issues.
Search engines are not very keen on duplicate content, in fact, they dislike it a lot. Websites with duplicate content often do not perform very well in the search engines. This is very tricky as the way search engines see duplicate content is different from what a human being would call a duplicate content. Duplicate content is often a technical issue caused by incorrect use of pagination, filters, and facets on the website which can generate duplicates or nearly identical pages on multiple URLs. It is therefore very important that developers are aware of the potential dangers of duplicate content as well as correct ways to handle, pagination, filters, and facets.
7) Structured data markup.
Structured data markup is used to describe things on the web along with their properties. If developers provide search engines with correct structured data markup they can make their content eligible to appear in special sections of the Google’s search results. These are Rich Results and the Knowledge Graph cards.
8) Use ALT Text For All Images
Yes, use ALT Text For All Images. Search Engines don’t see images the same way humans do, they need ALT Text attribute to guide them. ALT Text is also an important part of on-page optimization and similar to URL structure should be based on keyword research.
During my SEO audits, I often see websites with hundreds and sometimes even thousands of images with missing ALT Text. This is something that should be done during the development of the website.
I hope developers and website owners will find these tips useful and will do a bit more research into SEO and how to make every website they build search engine friendly.