In the development of an optimal website, both SEO strategists and developers should be working together to ensure all standard SEO practices are implemented in order to have strong domain authority, high ranking in Google search results, and more. However, SEO professionals and developers face a unique challenge in that they are often uninformed about what needs to be done. SEO professionals know WHAT Google is looking for but are unfamiliar with how to implement technical changes, and developers are able to find technical solutions but are not familiar with how those solutions affect SEO. By working together, brands can implement SEO best practices with ease.
Below are examples of eight issues that can arise and what both an SEO strategist and a developer should know:
Duplication causes issues
Duplication refers to the same content on more than one page of your website. This includes close variations of similar content. Google does not like duplication on web pages, the same or similar content makes it difficult for either of the duplicate pages to rank well. There are a couple of different solutions for duplication problems:
- You can 301 redirect URLs to the preferred page that you want to rank.
- You can ensure canonical tags are set, which automatically gives the canonical page authority over any other duplicate content or pages. The tag is set in the head of the HTML, as rel=”canonical” and you use <link> to refer to the preferred URL. An example: <link rel=”canonical” href= https://insertlinkhere.com /> .
Don’t forget those redirects
Healthy URLs for a website are indicated by a 200 status code. Redirects are created using 300 status codes and are commonly used when a new URL needs to point to an old URL. They are especially helpful in website migrations. For proper SEO, it’s important to regularly crawl a website to monitor the URL response codes and fix those that return 400 status codes due to broken links, etc. In all website migrations, be sure each URL is correctly redirected to its new URL so you can maintain all current traffic and link equity. Do not create redirect chains – redirects make it harder for Googlebot to crawl, especially with a chain. From a developer perspective, redirects should be a LAST RESORT and are to be used sparingly. Do not implement redirects as a form of navigational strategy on a website. In the case of an HTTP to HTTPS redirect, it is best to use a forced redirect to avoid duplicate URLs (one HTTP and one HTTPS).
Proper URL structure is essential
URL structure contributes greatly to crawlability so it’s necessary to take this into consideration when creating new web pages or a new website. In terms of SEO, each subfolder represents another level that Googlebot needs to crawl, thus making naming/keywords used within subfolders and the slug important. Collaborate with UX Designers on the information architecture as well as developers, who build options for default URLs for each page. Some web platforms, such as Shopify, have little wiggle room as far as URL creation, while others allow custom creation. When it comes to developers, the more concise and contextually accurate the subfolders of a site are, the better. Each name and level should relate to each other, getting more detailed as you reach the slug of the URL.
Mobile is extremely important in having an optimized site. Google uses mobile-first indexing, which means it crawls a mobile site before desktop. A responsive design that allows a website to adapt to different screen sizes is a key consideration for mobile optimization. You can find insights into mobile performance using tools such as Google Search Console and Google Page Speed Insights. Common mobile usability issues include text that’s too small to read and clickable elements that are too close together.
Site speed is critical
Website speed impacts your site’s performance. Speed enhancements and considerations rely heavily upon a developers’ know-how and recommendations. Google Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse Reports can give insights into speed performance with recommendations for improvements, which also improves SEO. However, speed issues fall on developers. If a site or page has speed issues, developers can review the above mentioned reports to get ideas for improvements that can be made. Often, developers create a site or page that follows an approved design but being aware of how design requests may affect site speed is in the best interest of the site as a whole. Minimizing HTTP requests, optimizing images, minimizing code, enabling caching, optimizing server response time, and prioritizing above-the-fold content are all important considerations for improving website speed.
Accessibility is not just good manners, but in some cases is a legal requirement
Accessibility is the practice of designing web applications and content that can be accessed and used by as many people as possible, including people with disabilities. In recent years, accessibility has become increasingly important for web developers and content creators as more and more people rely on the web to access information and services. Ensuring that the website is following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) best practices is important for SEO. And in the case of certain government-entity websites, accessibility is required by law. Addressing common accessibility issues such as lack of alt text on images, missing or poorly labeled form fields, inaccessible multimedia, and non-descriptive link text can impact your website’s search rankings. In fact, Google has stated that accessibility is a factor that they consider when ranking websites. In development, HTML semantics play an important role in accessibility. Using semantic HTML elements helps screen readers and other assistive technologies understand the structure of the content. You should be running accessibility tests throughout the development process.
Sitemaps ensure crawlability
A sitemap located at the domain root, i.e., www.yourwebsitehere.com/sitemap.xml helps Google crawl your intended URLs and it creates a clear and simple way to ensure easy crawling of your site. Make sure the robots.txt file is also up to date in addition to the sitemap. You can place instructions in the robots.txt file to crawl your sitemap.
Schema enhances SEO
Schema markup is a type of microdata that helps search engines better understand the content on a website. By using schema markup, you can increase the likelihood that your website will appear in rich snippets and other enhanced search results. Identifying schema opportunities is straightforward – you can explore different types of schema at schema.org. Common schema include FAQ, Organization, and Article. Implementing schema on the back end, under the recommendations of an SEO Strategist, can immediately boost the optimization of a website. There are also many plugins/tools to both create and test schema.
In conclusion, SEO is an essential component of any successful website. While these technical SEO issues may seem overwhelming at first, they can be tackled with a combination of careful planning, attention to detail, and ongoing maintenance. By addressing these issues, SEO strategists and developers can help improve website performance, user experience, search engine rankings and ensure their website stands out in a crowded digital landscape and better serves the needs of its users.