SEO is an intricate topic, not a simple one to understand, particularly for most web developers. It is different from web development in a way that you cannot expect to see adequate results of specific SEO strategies after weeks, months, days, or sometimes never. While web development is about coding, refreshing, switching tabs to the browser, SEO is absolutely different from it.
The primary reason for this is that SEO ranking algorithms keep changing frequently. The tricky part is that such changes are just hinted. However, there are numerous SEO experts who run various experiments based on algorithms to identify what’s working and what’s not, and ultimately, share their results with others.
But it does not imply that web developers cannot do SEO. Mentioned below are few SEO practices designed particularly for developers.
SEO for Developers Checklist:
1. Create a Strong Traffic Monitoring Program:
On a first note, you must create a tracking program that can correctly monitor the traffic volume received by your website. For this, it is vital to install the tracking program properly. If the installation is not done properly, it can spit back incorrect or duplicate data, eventually harming your website’s online reputation.
To keep it simple, the tracking program must be installed only once on a page. Making multiple installations can lead to major issues later on. Google Tag Manager is an excellent tool to handle complex analytics installations.
2. Design and Develop a Mobile-Friendly Website:
Mobile-friendliness can imply two distinct aspects of development. First, your website must meet the basic development techniques with a responsive CSS style sheet with media queries. Second, your website must not have a separate mobile subdomain. Though there is nothing wrong with utilizing a separate domain for your website, it can certainly make SEO more complex.
It is because sub-domain is considered as separate property and can make things difficult to manage related to certain specific SEO tasks such as link acquisition. Hence, the best way out is to meet the first criteria, but having one domain for web and mobile platforms.
3. Mobile URLs Must Not Result in Duplicate Content
Though you must have the same domain for your mobile and desktop websites, the URL structure for them must be developed in a way that they do not lead to duplicate content problem.
Duplicate content occurs because of various reasons. One reason is using numerous URLs to show the same content. When you create a mobile website using the mobile sub-domain, the basic first practice is to ensure using a rel=canonical tag to show the desktop website as the original content source. This way, the issue of duplicate content can be rectified to a great extent.
Additionally, the URL structure developed is secured. For this, you must also obtain a security certificate.
4. Properly Code the Structured Data
One good way to check errors and develop successful codes is using the Schema.org structured data by utilizing the Schema.org tool from Google. Though you can uncover some of the common errors using the Structured Data Testing Tool from Google, there are a few minor errors, which can occur. Such errors are important to rectify in order to avail clean coding.
These coding errors may not show up when you using an automatic tool such as Google webmaster. Hence, it is vital to conduct a manual check to identify and correct such errors. By practicing a thorough process for checking, even before your website is live, you can identify such errors and can ensure that they don’t appear during SEO.
5. Do Check the Robots.txt File:
Often times, during the process of development, it may be vital to block access to your domain before it is live. This is primarily done by using a robots.txt file on server – Disallow: /. But there are situations when you may forget about this action.
Hence, it is vital that there is no disallow direction in the robots.text files. This will make sure that the search engines are not able to crawl your website before it is live and hence can prevent damaging its overall performance.
Just remember, ‘disallow:’ is different from ‘Disallow: /’.
- Disallow: implies that the search engine spiders, as well as other agents, can crawl your website without experiencing issue from the website root down.
- Disallow:/ implies that every aspect of your website root down will be completely blocked from being accessed by the search engines.
6. Check Domain of the Staging Website:
Being a developer, you must be aware that during the process of developing a staging website is designed for the purpose of testing novel codes, previous website’s version, and rectifying other issues before the website goes live. Even a single error in the development process can make things complex and unsuccessful.
Therefore, you must check your website for all its aspect during the staging process. Conducting this check will help to eliminate all errors such as images loaded improperly or 404 errors, and more.
7. Check Your Website for Cases of Staging:
By using efficient techniques, you can find and replace the errors resulting from staging website sub-domain. When your website is live, it will be reflected incomplete rather than as reflected in the staging process. But if you don’t implement a strict checking process, the website can go live with such URLs being referred to everywhere.
However, you don’t require this checking process if the URL is used at the development stage. You need to run this check only for absolute URL structures.
8. Check Your Website for HTML Errors:
Some HTML errors can result in poor rendering on the website on different platforms. This can cause troubles with website speed and user experience. Eventually, it can lead to problems with the performance of the website, which can also affect the website’s ranking.
In order to combat this indirect impact, it is best to run the W3C validity process. This can help reduce the website speed through better optimization of coding techniques and layout. With better coding practices, it is also easier for Google to understand your website.
An important thing to note is that using the checklist for common issues will not improve everything. It can result in a slight increase in the performance of your website, but it is worth fixing them when all your site issues are corrected.
An important thing to note here is that one aspect believes that accurate coding is not important and that the website will perform in Google anyway. However, the other aspect believes that accurate coding can result in increased performance in the search results.
Based on your preference, you can adopt the way to go.
9. Check Your Website for Coding Errors:
There are various coding errors that can occur and one common among them is using polyglot documents. These documents were coded with a single type of document but implemented on a novel platform using another type of document.
But if you are practicing this, you are creating a copy and paste of this code. In most of the situations where project scoping, budgets, and other issues intervened with development times, it could be difficult to implement the correct fix. This is important to ensure that all coding guidelines are practiced to the selected document type.
10. Create an Efficient Layout for Your Website:
It is very vital to see how your code is laid out. The layout of code can create a great impact on the website’s speed, rendering times, and ultimately the performance of your website. This can impact the load times.
11. Meta Description:
It is an important HTML attribute that offers a brief summary of the webpage. Usually, search engines display it under their blue colored clickable links. Meta descriptions slightly impact your website’s ranking, but it has a huge impact on click-through rates of your website.
Usually, Google displays 160 characters and prefer descriptions under 155 characters. It is vital that the Meta description is unique to every page. If you are targeting long-tail keywords you can avoid writing Meta description.
12. Image Tag:
Using the alt attribute in the image tag is vital to offer alternative text for describing the image. This is useful to screen readers and is displayed first, even before the image is not loaded. This is useful as it helps search engines to properly index an image.
Your images must have well-informative and detailed file names as well as descriptive alt texts so that it is easier for search engines to index the images. With specific height and width attributes, a web browser is able to know about the image.
13. Use Image Compression Techniques:
I have found lots of developers who optimize the images but do not use proper image compression techniques. It is vital to take an image and compress it to adequate size in Photoshop while maintaining its physical dimension size and quality.
Usually, it is done on photos by making the necessary adjustment in JPG settings and then exporting the image for the web.
14. Check the Search Plug-ins for Your Website:
When a website is developed, particularly on platforms such as WordPress, it can lead to certain issues. These issues can occur because of troubles in the Search plug-ins. Such plug-ins can lead to irreparable and harmful damage to the reputation of the website if they are not identified early.
One case is when the search plug-in generates numerous pages for every single search result entered into the plug-in. In this situation, you get numerous blank pages without content. Also, you can run up bandwidth expenses.
15. Check Server Configurations and Speed of Your Website:
The page loading speed is a highly important factor for ranking in Google. As per some researches, Google uses Time to First Byte or TTFB as the page load time. This is vital from the perspective of user experience. Your website page must load faster and have reduced bounce rate.
For this, you must optimize the first byte as well as page load time of your site.
16. Take into Consideration the Server Time to First-Byte Loaded:
If the first byte of your website takes longer than the rest to load, then it can be a bottleneck squeezing out your website’s performance during the development process. It is because the first-byte time assesses the time from when a user starts to navigate to the page until the first part of server responses. A trouble in this situation usually means a server configuration problem, which is vital and needs to be fixed.
For this, you must check your website with the service technician. It will help resolve outstanding issues related to this problem.
17. Optimizing for Local Search:
Local search is meant for people who are searching for businesses and destinations close to their location. To gain better local rankings on Google and enhance the presence in Google Maps and Search, you must offer complete details of your business in Google My Business.
Include appealing and accurate pictures to the listing to let people know about your services and goods. If your website is supported with positive, genuine, and high-quality reviews, it would boost its visibility and enhance its likelihood to potential customers.
18. Developing Website in Multiple Languages:
When you are developing websites in multiple languages, you must inform the same to Google. This can be done by determining the right language of your website to Google. Avoid incorporating side-by-side translations on your website.
The content for each language of your website must be presented on different URL.
20. HTTP Status Code:
The HTTP response can make search engines believe that your web page has moved to a new URL. A 301 redirect can lead to a 15% loss of page ranking and 302 Redirect can too result in a major loss of ranking for your website. But despite it, the 301 redirects must be the preferred method for complete redirects.
You now have this handy checklist for SEO for developers with you, start implementing these actions on your current project right away. But remember, SEO is changing at an extremely fast pace. Hence, keep a close check on the latest SEO practices and Google’s algorithms.