Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has always been a buzzword for content marketing teams. But, SEO for developers? Why bother caring about it, right?
Well, think twice.
In a world where people are bombarded with so much content, you need to make sure that the code you write can impact a site’s ability to sit in search engines’ top results.
That is to say, having a solid grasp on basic SEO will never hurt. In fact, it helps you with efficient coding and goes a long way to your website’s overall success.
Whereas programming and developing require a set of technical skills, good SEO practices require a different set of skills. But don’t worry. It’s not as daunting as you might think.
This quick guide will walk you through your area of expertise, such as site speed optimization, HTML improvements, cross-platform compatibility, etc.
Now, let’s dive into SEO know-how from a developer standpoint.
What Does SEO Mean for Developers?
In general, SEO strategies aim to generate a website with a surge in search engine result page (SERP) rankings for users to find content quickly.
More than 75% of internet users don’t even scroll past the first page of the SERPs. In that matter, you can be facilitators and contributors to better SERP rankings for websites you developed.
SEO for developers means learning to code pages much more efficiently. Here, your coding and overall job are critical to the overall success of any SEO strategy.
If you spend more time and effort to understand SEO for website developments, you can bring dramatic changes to websites.
For instance, if you can drive more traffic to websites you create and make them rank on the front pages of Google, then it can give you more authority as a savvy developer and make you more employable.
SEO Basics for Developers: Behind the Scenes
SEO is about much more than keyword research, link building, and content optimization. Some technical aspects are going on behind the scenes that help determine a site’s rank in search results.
Here are five areas where you, as a savvy developer, can build in better SEO from the ground up.
Page speed has become a factor for ranking in search engines. It affected 1% of desktop search queries.
The faster a site loads, the lower the bounce rate it’ll get. It also means that the website with faster loading time helps visitors stay on the site or page for a long time, which increases the average time spent.
Google recommended that an ideal page load time is under two seconds. Some sites and pages tend to include high-quality multimedia content (such as images and videos) to improve their SEO performance, resulting in longer load time.
So, as a developer, consider the following:
- Avoid using images for effects, and use CSS instead.
- Pick image format carefully (smaller file sizes = quicker loading times).
- Reduce the size of HTML files, CSS, etc. sent to your visitor by enabling Gzip compression.
URL structure made it to Google’s top 200 ranking factors. Reader-friendly, well-crafted URLs are concise and provide both users and search engines an easy-to-grasp indication of the destination page.
Well-structured URLs can improve user experience, since they provide visitors with a snippet clarifying what they can expect after they click the link.
Below are handy ways to perfect the URL structure to hint search engines and send users to your website or page:
- Whenever possible, use a single domain subdomain.
- Include short-tail keyword for search visibility, but don’t make it too long, since it’ll appear as spammy.
- Avoid using unusual characters like tildes and carats, since bots can’t detect them. You can use hyphens to separate words instead.
Meta tags are strong SEO signals and can be the first impression a visitor gets from a website or page. They can help search engines, as well as website visitors, to contextualize and understand your website or page content.
Meta tags include title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and more. Like the URL structure, all meta tags should be concise and easy-to-understand to tell search engines that the website you developed is relevant and worth clicking.
Here are some best practices you can use to optimize meta tags and boost the SEO efforts:
- Since Google ignores duplicate content, make sure to include a canonical tag (rel=” canonical”) if you do content syndication to link to the original source.
- Make sure you use simple language and add keywords for title tags and meta descriptions.
More than 91% of internet users access the internet with their hand-held devices. It’s no surprise that a site that provides access to mobile devices has a higher chance of gaining more visitors.
Creating a website with flawless viewing on mobile devices can attract more visitors and increase traffic. Therefore, it has a higher chance of appearing at the top of the search results.
Here are things you should do to create a website with an engaging interface for mobile users:
- Avoid using popups, since they may annoy visitors. This can lead to a higher bounce rate.
- Try not to use Flash, since some of the users’ mobile devices may not support the plugin. Use HTML5 instead.
Local Search Optimization
It’s also crucial to pay attention to local search. At least 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information.
In essence, you can help content marketing teams to increase local traffic by providing detailed business information (name, address, phone number) in Google My Business.
And at the very least, here are some other things you should do to optimize your website for local search:
- Apply local business schema or structured data to make it easier for search engines to understand where you’re located.
- Include city and state in meta tags (title tags, URLs, meta descriptions, etc.).
- Include an embedded Google Map that points to your Google Plus Local listing.
You’ve Got This!
With all of that said, you know that SEO isn’t only for content marketing teams to work on. In fact, developers have a strong potential to perfect overall SEO efforts. By understanding the basic SEO for developers, you and your content marketing teams can live in perfect harmony.
So, one thing you can bear in mind from this article is that your coding is a strong foundation for SEO.
By consequence, ignoring the crucial role your site’s coding plays in its overall SEO efforts is the same as building a house on a weak, unstable foundation.
It’s a dog-eat-dog competition in the digital world out there. It’s essential to be the biggest dog in town. That is to say, the website you develop should be more than a simple URL. It’s a lead generator, information source, and robust marketing machine when you invest more time to learn about SEO while creating it.
Therefore, it is assumed that a developer will develop a creative, professional-looking website, one that can make it to the top pages of search engine results and pull people in, one that is worth investing in.