Originally posted on semrush.com.
The difference between a happy client and a frustrated one can sometimes depend on how well the developer thought ahead of the game.
I have been doing SEO for a while now. It’s my expertise today, but I started off as a software engineer and subsequently a webmaster and... I hated them both.
If I had a time machine and I could go back, I would slap myself across the face and try to understand what SEO was and how it relates to development. SEO isn’t only something that a developer needs to acknowledge; rather it should be integrated in their workflow.
Essentially, thinking SEO while web developing shouldn’t be a specialty, but the norm. Here are the 6 tips that I wish I knew about how Google ranks when I was a developer.
Don’t Make CSS Mistakes You Will Regret
Everyone knows you need Header Tags but, does it matter which one is where on the page and what it looks like?
H1s should be at the top of the page – NOT H2s! The title of blog posts should be 'H1s, not H2s!' I can understand if you think that the H2 would look better as a title or topic. In those cases, change the CSS of the H1 to look like the H2s. While you are there, make sure that the H2s are smaller in size and have a similar look and feel so that the font doesn’t look out of place. Don’t forget the rest of the Header Tags as well, you never know what the SEO team might come up with down the line.
Respect the Mobile Bar: UI/UX
Keep that in mind next time you oversee the navigation creation!
Have you ever tried to navigate on your phone when the site isn’t mobile friendly? There is only so much you can do.
Making your site responsive is now a must but make sure you don’t leave out all the important SEO terms and technical stylings, like the CSS mentioned above.
Speed (which we will discuss a bit later), is extremely important for mobile, and for SEO in general.User experience is different on mobile, and Google appreciates that you put time and effort to give your user the “cleanest” experience possible. Mobile data connections (non-Wifi) can really put a hole in your pocket. Having a cleaner and more efficient site doesn’t kill data plans. Think about actually saying this to a potential client: “I will make your site so lean and mobile friendly you will even save your users money!” Talk about a selling point.
There is More Than One (Re)direction
You see what I did there ;)
There are a lot of scrapers out there, which are bots that copy your content and rewrite them on another site. There are ways to prevent this from happening: Canonical redirects.
Why is this important? Let’s forget about the the copyright infringements for a moment; Google hates duplicate content, which is what we are more worried about. This one liner of code can help with that. When you have a new site it’s super important that your content is scanned first so Google knows that you are the original source, otherwise that annoying spammy site will be the victor – unless it scrapped your site with the canonical redirect.
Not all sites are WordPress, so searching and installing a plugin isn’t always possible.
All developers should give their clients an easy way for their clients to make 301s. This could be as simply as getting them to update a file or better still build it into their CMS. You will be the lifesaver before the site even needs to be saved.Think of it this way: it’s either a one time fix or rewriting the .htaccess all day long.
Use it! If you are afraid to use it, then put on your big boy pants and start learning. Especially when you have a site-wide redirect this is the file you need to use.
When Gandhi said: “There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” He WASN’T talking about Websites.
Images, video and JS/CSS
As promised, it’s time to talk about site speed!
Not every server is created equal.
These are the points you need to think about when deciding on a server for your client:
1. Google knows who your neighbors are. If you are on shared server with many spammy sites, you have been warned. Google will take that into consideration.
2. A shared server means a slower server. As discussed, speed is crucial for SEO.
3. Virtual private servers are for keeping pesky sites from being linked to you, but it doesn’t mean they are faster.
4. When you are on a shared server you are more vulnerable to hacks. We will get into security later on.
In short, use them! If your client is an international company, you will need to get your loading time as fast as possible everywhere.
Small but mighty – URL structure
Size does matter here, but in this case the smaller the better. Having more than two subdirectories in a URL gets on search engines’ last nerve. Take a look at these two URLs to see what I’m talking about:
Which is easier to read? If you aren’t screaming the first option, you are special type of person. Search engines aren’t people - they all think the same way. Integrate this practice in your URL structure.
Password Complexity is Essential: An Update a Day Keeps the Hacker Away
Let me tell you a little story.
There once was a security related site that didn’t change their default admin password. It wasn’t because they didn’t know they needed to, it was because their webmaster never told them that there was an admin user. Everyone got their own username and password to enter the CMS.One day, an SEO hacker crawled that security related site and hacked in. What did he do?
He added over 15,000 pages that all had to do with affiliate pages he wanted to promote. Like “Make money from home!” and “How to get a job in Pakistan” and “How to download videos from xhamster”...You get the point. The amazing thing was the organic traffic for the site skyrocketed, which looks great on the surface, but when you see what keywords created the traffic, that doesn’t make you look so good.
All I can say was it was an interesting three months getting rid of the hacked pages and the search results.
This is mostly for WordPress, but if you have a username and password for the back end of your site make sure it’s extra sensitive.
Same goes for updating plugins. When a plugin isn’t updated you are open to a hack and the same result is lingering above.
With all that said, when you do add plugins that affect the design of the site, make sure they will be compatible when updating; otherwise, your site might look a little different every time you update which isn’t something that clients want to see.
Remember when I said less is more? I wasn’t kidding.
You will also notice that not only will your clients’ site be more SEO friendly, but there will be less gears and levers that you need to play around with when your client needs to make changes to the sites SEO or code.
Thinking of the above will help keep your clients happy and that will probably up your referral rate, which in the end means more money in your pocket.
Win - Win - Win!