Written byIzabela Wisniewska
Search Engine Optimisation is constantly evolving and it’s doing it at a very fast pace. Unless you’re working in SEO or a related field it can be difficult to keep up with all the changes. Back in the day SEO was more of an add-on rather the integral partner a successful website as it is today. Developers would build a website and the SEO team would later slap on some meta titles and meta keyword tags followed by 300 directory links. Things no longer work this way. In this day and age SEO is an ongoing process and integral part of every successful website.
Before you start work on that next big development project, get input from the SEO team. This will help everyone involved. Your client may not be aware of this so you may want to suggest it. When working with clients, it’s good to take the initiative and suggest what you think is best for their business. Failing to do so may results in many frustrations. Below are some of the most important things web developers and designers should be aware of.
Website / Navigation structure
Navigation structure of the website is very important and should reflect the keyword research and website’s business goals.
If one of the main goals of the website is to sell blue widgets then the page selling these should be easily accessible and so on. This will affect both, the SEO performance and the user experience, which in turn will affect conversions and sales.
This is probably one of the most important things to consider when building a new website. The url structure should be based on the keyword research. example.com/well-research-keyword is much better than example.com/something-random-34% ?
How changes in url structure and redirects affect SEO
Making changes to the url structure can have a big effect on the performance of the affected pages into search results.
Even a small change to the url like changing:
example.com/cheap-widget to example.com/cheapwidget
can have a dramatic effect on the page’s performance in the search results. From the SEO and search engine perspective the example.com/cheapwidget is a completely new page and will not inherit the ranking of the original url automatically. It will not even be indexed to start with.
Each page will have a certain authority or rank score based on a number of factors, and as we know one of the two most important factors and probably the most important factor is the quality and number of links pointing to that page. Pointing to that specific url. If the url of the page changes the links are gone. The way to tell search engines that a page url has changed is via correct use of redirection.
The best practice is a 301 redirect although recently Google gave us some hints the other redirects can also do the job. However most SEO professionals believe 301 redirects are the best practice to preserve and pass on the link juice.
This goes back to one of our earlier points regarding the importance of consulting with the SEO/marketing team and getting the url structure right from the start. But it is also equally important consideration when the time comes for renovating or a fresh start for your website.
Preventing development and staging versions from being indexed
This is a very common mistake which can have serious SEO implications. Getting your dev version indexed can cause serious problems with duplicate content. Make a good use of
robots.txt to prevent that from happening. Developers should also be familiar with using the robots meta tag.
Pagination and duplicate content issues
Big website and especially eCommerce websites are prone to problems with duplicate content. This is usually created by a poor website structure. Developers should be aware that the way websites handles pagination, facets, filters and categories can have a big effect on search engine performance.
Difference between followed and nofollowed links
These one is pretty obvious for anyone working in SEO. It is however important that web developers also understand the difference.
How search engines see images.
Text as images. I’ve seen these countless times in website’s headers and banners. Text should be text and images images. Search engines do not understand images as they do text so using images to display text is not a good idea.
Before any website can perform well in the search engine results it needs to get indexed and in order to get indexed by the search engines it need to be accessible to search engine bots.
Google puts a lot of emphasis on fast website, this is part of their effort to promote mobile friendly websites. Developers should keep the speed in mind when building a website. There are free tools available for Google to check your website performance.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but I have covered some of the most important points here. The main concussion is that when building a new website or redesigning an existing one, developers and SEO teams should communicate and share information for the benefit of the website they are working on.