Top 5 Technical SEO basics for Web Developers

Top 5 Technical SEO basics for Web Developers

Not taking the time to understand technical SEO for your website could earn you a penalty from Google.

Building a site can be done relatively simply and you don’t need to be a search engine optimisation (SEO) expert to have a site that can rank well. But there are definitely some considerations to think about which will delight your clients by ensuring that their site is not in the dark ages when it comes to on-site technical SEO.

Technical SEO considers ranking factors of over 400 different components in order to get a higher search result on Google. These factors are constantly evolving and can make it a difficult task to stay on top of, particularly when some things that were the industry standard a year ago are suddenly black hat. A penalty from Google means that your site will appear lower in search results, getting less traffic and a black mark. You do not want this, it can be difficult to come back from and can take months of effort to get you back to where you started.

However, there are factors which hold more weight than others. Factors which are less likely to change dramatically in the short or medium term. These are the factors that a web developer should focus on whilst building a site to ensure that rookie errors are not going to penalise your hard work, which could make your site harder for customers to find.

1. Content

Many content specialists have a saying – ‘Content is King’. While not strictly true, Google has a heavy bias towards giving a higher rank to sites with unique and relevant content that’s of a high standard.
QUALITY: You can’t spin content if you want a favourable result from Google – their machine learning algorithm figures out thin content and duplication with startling accuracy. Get the client to supply, get a freelance copywriter to write it or make something up. Whatever you do, make it fresh to Google.
QUANTITY: Each page needs to have enough content – even an ecommerce site which relies heavily on images is not immune. Each page should have 500 words on it, which can be tricky to achieve. Add this to the fact that duplication is an absolute no-no and that you need to get enough unique text on each page. This should be the standard that you aim for if you want a higher ranking.

2. Images

The loading speed of your site is a massive contributor to a good user experience (UX). Most users leave a site if it takes 3 seconds or longer to load – you want to get all the traffic that you can for your site to rank well, so this is an often overlooked issue which can make a considerable difference to your sites success in the search results. A great way to speed up any site is to scale and optimise your images. Preferably before they are uploaded to get the best results.

You can do this using both paid and free software as well as certain plugins, dependant on which CMS your site uses.

Paid software

  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator

Free software and plugins

You have the options of Irfanview, Gimp or an online image compressor to minify images for the best loading speed. WordPress also do a plugin called Smush which works well.

Check for a breakdown of your sites loading speed and performance, and if it is not images that’s slowing your site down, you will be able to discern exactly what the problem is from here, and get to work on fixing it.

3. Meta tags

Google’s site crawlers use the information within meta tags to understand what’s on the page. Here’s a brief breakdown of what they are, why they are important and how to implement them.

Meta keywords

Is a defunct meta tag to input keywords on a pages code. Due to abuse in the past by website creators, it should no longer be used Using the meta keyword tag can now can get you a penalty and is not a ranking factor. Remove the meta keywords tag if you have a site which you manage that has it.

Meta description

The meta description is approximately a 160 character snippet that provides Google a brief description of that page’s content. You can optimise these descriptions with the inclusion of one or two organic, long tail keywords, but do not overuse these or you could face a penalty.

4. ALT text

A simple way to get results is to always add alt text to your images. Google’s crawlers can’t see images, and rely upon the image alt text to know what an image is. Bonus- This also helps with accessibility, another ranking factor. For example, if a person with a disability has a computer which reads text aloud to them, an image alt description ensures that this content will be explained. Just a detailed description of what the picture is what should be aimed for.

5. Human readable URLs

Making URLS readable to a human is a worthwhile pursuit. Keep these lowercase, don’t include stop words (eg. and, but, the, etc.) and keep them short and meaningful. Aim to match these to your titles minus the stop words and you won’t be far wrong.

In Conclusion

By keeping these factors in mind during the build process of your website you will have an edge on your lesser educated competition and give your site the best chance to appear higher in Google’s search results than you would have done before. There is plenty more that you can do – check out my article on keyword strategy for more information.

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