A Comprehensive SEO Checklist for Web Development
We’ve talked about the factors that Google prioritizes in its search algorithm, and the importance of bolstering your business’s traffic with long-term, organic results courtesy of strong SEO campaigns. The bulk of SEO work is ongoing and involves regular updates (i.e. blogging, backlinks, etc) after the creation of the site. However, it is imperative that the site be soundly built upon a solid SEO base. This is the foundation upon which all future SEO campaigns will be based. Bots crawling your page must be able to easily find and navigate your site. The keywords you’re aiming to rank for must appear densely throughout the site copy.
Read on to discover 4 must-do’s for developers coding your site.
1. Choose URLs with SEO in mind
The mystery within Google’s algorithm lies less in the factors being evaluated, and more on the weight assigned to each aspect. Regardless, the quality of every piece of a website is taken into account when ranking a site. If all portions are optimized, the weight doesn’t matter; your site will perform favorably, regardless.
So, when developing a site for SEO, we recommend starting where the search engine robots do: the website’s URLs.
Search engine robots are designed to reward websites for being user-friendly. In other words, when you optimize the user experience of your website, your SEO will be strong by association. URLs are no exception. Hyperlinks should give users (and bots) an accurate idea of the content housed on the corresponding page. URLs should be clean and easy to read. Do not include any “code” in URLs, such as symbols, punctuation or file names.
Consider the following tips when writing URLs:
- Short and sweet: Especially in this day and age of URL shorteners (bit.ly, ow.ly, etc), consumers value a concise URL. What they see is what they should get.
- Keywords are key: URLs are a valuable place to have your keywords recognized. Lead with your most important
- Hyphens > underscores: search engine robots speak in hyphens to separate words, so your site should, too. Bots are incapable of separating words with underscores. Underscores cause your words to run together, docking you points for thoughtfully chosen keywords
2. Redirect the right way
Rearranging site content is commonplace for developers. As clients priorities shift, or products are added, or the season changes, businesses will want to focus on different products or services. Often times, said movement of content requires a new URL with a redirect to ensure the user is sent to the new page.
The most common application of a redirect is in the case of replacing duplicate content. On any website, there should only be one URL to access a product or service. Resist the temptation to copy and paste content for a product or service featured on the homepage to the description of the same product or service in the full menu. Duplicate content like this is a red flag to bots crawling the site. Your “quality” score will suffer, demoting your site’s position in the algorithm rankings.
Redirects should also be used to point old pages to new pages. This ensures both users and bots are correctly navigating through your site.
3. Schema markup matters
Schema markup refers to the data-rich information sites provide consumers in search engine results pages (SERPs). Think of a restaurant with star ratings, photos, and price ranges – all visible before clicking through to the site. Sites that offer additional information like this within the query results require additional coding. Google’s algorithm rewards the time spent on this “schema markup” in its algorithm.
Think of schema markup as a “sparknotes” for the robot crawling your site. These concise, informative snippets reveal a significant amount about the content on the site. Understanding a site’s content is the primary goal of bots, so that Google can properly display the most relevant results to queries on any given keyword.
4. Be mobile friendly
Mobile friendliness is a relatively new criterion in search engine algorithms. But don’t be fooled. With an average of 2/3 of a site’s first-time users visiting on mobile devices, Google prioritizes mobile friendliness accordingly.
Just because a site can be accessed on a smartphone or tablet does not inherently make it mobile friendly. Nor is a mobile application always necessary to optimize a user’s experience with your brand on the go. However, mobile optimization requires additional coding. Text and images should rescale in proportion to the screen. Different menus and layouts should be employed to declutter the smaller space. Loading capacities on both wifi and 3G/LTE/etc must be accounted for and improved, when possible. Check out how well your site measures up with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
We at KitelyTech are in the business of designing and developing stellar SEO sites for startups and enterprise-level companies, alike. Get in touch today for a free SEO analysis of your current site and/or to learn about how we can custom tailor our services to best serve your company’s needs.
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