Web Development With SEO In Mind

Web Development With SEO In Mind

When a​ business owner decides to​ bring their business to​ the​ web,​ generally the​ last thing that they think about is​ search engine optimization. They assume that whomever they hire to​ do their web design will put up a​ site and then submit it​ to​ the​ search engines and the​ traffic will magically pour in. Unfortunately it​ takes more than that to​ drive search engine traffic to​ your site,​ and even more unfortunately most developers don't program with SEO in​ mind,​ nor do they educate the​ client about the​ process involved in​ gaining traffic from search engines.

Whether it's carelessness or​ a​ lack of​ knowledge,​ or​ a​ combination of​ the​ two,​ this often leads to​ a​ client that several months down the​ road doesn't understand why their site doesn't get any traffic and isn't helping their business. a​ good designer will not only program with SEO in​ mind,​ but will also educate the​ client about the​ basic principles of​ SEO,​ whether they are the​ one who executes it​ or​ not.

Many times the​ clients I inherit have gone through this scenario and then face drastic on-site changes to​ get their site search engine friendly before we are even able to​ begin the​ arduous process of​ link building. Whether you​ are designing a​ site for yourself or​ for a​ client,​ following the​ simple steps below when programming will ultimately save the​ business time and money and result in​ a​ search engine friendly site that truly maximizes the​ online potential of​ the​ business.

Use proper tags for headings,​ bold text,​ italic text,​ and lists – HTML has heading tags,​ bold tags,​ italic tags,​ and ordered and unordered lists for a​ reason and you​ should use them. Using CSS you​ can practically style them however you​ like,​ but actually using a​ heading tag for your headings,​ and bold tags for important text,​ will help allow search engines understand what text on​ a​ page is​ a​ heading or​ what is​ more important than the​ surrounding text. Simply applying a​ CSS style that makes text larger or​ bold doesn't do that.

Optimize your images – search engine spiders can't read text within an​ image. Adding ALT text to​ your image tag helps,​ but ideally you​ should remove all wording from the​ image and style it​ using CSS,​ adding the​ remaining portion of​ the​ image as​ a​ background image to​ the​ text. Here is​ a​ side-by-side comparison (http://www.seo-playbook.com/image_example.php) of​ two images that look the​ same in​ your browser,​ but much different to​ a​ search engine spider.

Avoid canonical problems – believe it​ or​ not,​ search engines can see http://yoursite.com,​ http://www.yoursite.com,​ and http://www.yoursite.com/index.html as​ three different pages. a​ simple solution is​ to​ use a​ 301 redirect to​ point all of​ your pages to​ their “www” counterpart. you​ can also select the​ preferred domain that Google shows in​ the​ new Google Webmaster Tools console.

Get rid of​ Session IDs if​ you​ have a​ PHP site – have you​ ever seen a​ PHPSESSID variable added to​ the​ end a​ URL on​ a​ PHP page (it looks something like PHPSESSID=34908908)? This happens because PHP will add a​ unique PHPSESSID to​ URLs within your site if​ cookies aren't available. This can be extremely problematic for your site's search engine ranking. Google and Yahoo will see a​ unique PHPSESSID in​ the​ URL every time they visit a​ page on​ your site,​ and in​ turn think that said page is​ a​ different page each time. at​ worst,​ this could be viewed as​ duplicate content and get your site banned,​ and at​ best it​ will reduce the​ perceived value of​ each page. One solution that I've used successfully is​ to​ utilize url_rewriter.tags.

Put CSS and JavaScript in​ external files – nearly every site nowadays uses CSS and JavaScript for something. While both are great for enhancing user experience,​ neither will help your search engine ranking if​ left on​ your page. One of​ the​ factors that search engines consider when ranking your site is​ the​ percentage of​ code relevant to​ the​ search term. CSS and JavaScript can take up hundreds of​ lines of​ code,​ minimizing the​ importance of​ your text and in​ turn hurting your ranking. By putting them in​ separate files and simply including them in​ your page by reference,​ you​ can reduce hundreds of​ lines down to​ one and increase the​ amount of​ code in​ the​ file that is​ relevant content.

Minimize the​ use of​ tables in​ layouts – the​ debate about whether or​ not tables should be used in​ site design has been going on​ for years and there's no end in​ site. I fall somewhere in​ the​ middle – there are certain circumstances (like organizing tabular data) where I think tables still make the​ most sense,​ but I also appreciate the​ SEO benefits of​ using CSS layouts. CSS layouts drastically reduce the​ amount of​ code in​ your site that isn't content that the​ user sees. Just like moving CSS and JavaScript to​ an​ external file,​ the​ less on-page code that isn't content,​ the​ better. Check out www.searchenginefriendlylayouts.com for some free example layouts.

Validate your site – a​ site doesn't have to​ be perfectly coded to​ rank high in​ the​ search engines (there are many,​ many other factors),​ but valid HTML will help ensure that search engines and browsers alike will accurately see your page. Try using the​ official W3C Validator (http://validator.w3.org/) or​ install this handy Firefox extension (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/249/). Validating generally identifies areas of​ code that are redundant,​ unnecessary,​ or​ not accepted across all browsers. All of​ which will help make your site more search engine friendly.

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