SEO Basics for Web Developers – What Should You Know?

SEO Basics for Web Developers – What Should You Know?

Website optimization is the cornerstone of SEO. A page should meet the requirements of Google algorithms as they have a crucial impact on its visibility in the search results. Knowledge of SEO basics will allow every web developer responsible for the deployment process to improve website positions in the search results and to find a common ground with an SEO specialist running the campaign.

Table of contents:

Why Should Web Developers and SEO Specialists Cooperate with Each Other?

The process of optimizing a website to meet the requirements of Google algorithms somehow equals creating a website that corresponds to users’ needs. Users appreciate pages that load fast, include all necessary information and are easy to navigate. People love websites that can be easily browsed on mobile devices and that are free of errors which make the entire process complex.

These are only exemplary needs of an internet user – as you can see, they’re partially consistent with Google standards.

A web developer should be familiar with SEO basics, whereas an SEO specialist should know the basics of web development. Both professionals should learn about their areas of expertise as this will allow them to achieve the goal, meaning, to create a website that is compliant with Google guidelines. So, if you are part of a Software House or Technical SEO Agency – this entry is for you.

increase your visibility

Apart from that, they should know what activities to avoid without consulting the other person. What if a website has satisfactory visibility but it loses it because of implemented changes that haven’t been consulted with the SEO specialist? During the cooperation, it’s crucial to avoid mistakes such as:

  • Placing copies of the project on different servers without blocking indexing. The result? Several versions of the same website appear in Google even before the project is finished.
  • Making the website publicly available at the design stage without proper protection – there have been situations when websites were hacked by bots. The result? Hundreds of spam pages being indexed, and linked by bots from low-quality websites.
  • Changing the structure of the website – modification of URLs, and navigation, or no 301 redirects can lead to a drastic drop in visibility.
  • Leaving the noindex tag on the page, which of course, prevents the site from appearing in the SERPs.

These are only some of the mistakes you may make. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that an SEO specialist determines the scope of cooperation with a web developer, both when creating a website and when working on its visibility.

SEO Basics Every Web Developer Should Know

In the perfect world, a web developer should consult an SEO specialist at the very beginning to find solutions that are the most beneficial both for the users and search engine robots. However, let’s analyze what every web developer should take into account to ensure that conducted activities have a positive impact on the visibility in the search results.

Website Loading Time

Google rewards websites that load fast – it’s one of the ranking factors. Of course, positions in the SERPs are affected by hundreds of elements, however, if one site loads significantly faster than the other, it’ll probably be ranked higher.

That’s not everything. Website loading time has an impact on the bounce rate. Take a look at the chart below. The longer a user has to wait to access a page, the higher the bounce rate. If the website loads in 2 seconds, it’s 6%, while in the case of 10 seconds it’s 65%! If Google sees that visitors return from such a page to the search results and click the next result, it probably categorizes the page as not valuable, which may negatively affect its visibility.

seo basics every web developer should know load speed
Source: https://www.pingdom.com/blog/page-load-time-really-affect-bounce-rate/

As a web developer, don’t forget about Core Web Vitals, a ranking factor introduced in 2021. These are metrics that evaluate the performance and speed of a website. Core Web Vitals include:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – the time it takes to load the largest element on the page (measurement takes place in the Above The Fold section).
  • First Input Delay (FID) – the time needed to fully load the site.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – the visual stability of the site.

To analyze any website you want, use PageSpeed Insights that is available for free.

seo basics for web developers loading speed

Proper Redirect Implementation

Websites are constantly changing. New content is published, articles are updated, URLs are modified, and that’s why redirects play an important role both for the users and for the search engine robots.

If a given piece of content has changed its address permanently or different articles have been merged,   a 301 redirect should be used. Thanks to it, the Internet user will then be redirected to the target content, and you’ll transfer the SEO power to the new link.

It’s also crucial to remember about 302 redirects used when the change is temporary – i.e., you intend to restore the old address. It’s applied, for example, in a situation when a product is temporarily unavailable and you turn it off (then we set the 302 redirect to another, similar product) – but in, say, a week you have a delivery and the item is available again, so you turn it on and remove the redirect.

Note: although 302 redirects are useful in this case, we don’t recommend turning products off SEO-wise. If a given product isn’t in stock, indicate on the page that it is “out of stock” or “unavailable”.

To learn more about it, check out our article: Product unavailable – how to deal with it without ruining SEO?

Inappropriate implementation or lack of redirects can have a negative impact on page visibility.

Does The Website Display Properly on Mobile Devices?

The vast majority of users browse the net on smartphones and tablets. According to Oberlo, more than 56% of the world’s Internet users browse the web using such devices.

seo basics for web developers mobile friendly

That’s why your website should be mobile-friendly, not just because Google wants it to be – it’s the only way to meet the requirements of users.

Before you make your website available, make sure it’s mobile-friendly. For this purpose, you may use the tool developed by Google: Mobile-Friendly Test.

seo basics every web developer should know mobile friendly test

Robots.txt File

You might have blocked indexing through the robots.txt file (this is one of the methods, you can also add the “noindex” tag in the <head> section of the site) for the time of implementing changes on your website.

First of all, it’s not an effective way of blocking the indexation and the content may still be seen by robots, despite adding the appropriate code to the file.

Second of all, remember to make changes to the file before starting the site. You can check your page status even without logging into the server. Use Google’s robots.txt testing tool.

seo basics for web developers robots txt test

Structured Data

Web developers can do a lot when it comes to structured data implementation. Thanks to it, stars, prices, stock levels, and much more can appear in Google next to the search result for a given page. Before implementing any structured data, it’s crucial to consult the decision with the SEO professional, and the website owner. To check if the data is correct before you actually launch the site, use the Rich Results Test.

seo basics for web developers structured data test

Correct Language Version Implementation

Mistakes, in this case, can even lead to the site being indexed out. Language versions can be introduced on different domains, using subdomains, and the simplest way to do it is to choose subdirectories.

It’s always important to check the correct implementation of the hreflang attribute. This method is recommended by Google for defining the languages of the site for particular locations. You can implement it in different ways – the most common is to add hreflang in the <head> section of the page. In this case, you should use the following code:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”language code region code” href=”url”>

It can be for example:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”de-DE” href=”https://delante.co/de” />

It has to appear on every subpage of the site, for every language version. There can also be another code for the English version:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=” https://delante.co/en”>

The hreflang tag generator can make the task easier. It’s also worth adding hreflang x-default, which indicates the default language, e.g. English, if someone from outside the language database in hreflangs enters the page.

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://delante.co/en” hreflang=”x-default” />

You can use hreflangtest.com to test the correctness of your hreflangs.

seo basics for web developers hreflang

SEO Basics Every Web Developer Should Know – The Takeaway

The cooperation between web developers and SEO specialists is crucial for improving website visibility. Potential mistakes can have a dramatic impact on page positions. Quality communication and knowledge of the SEO basics are crucial for web developers. Thanks to it, the project can be run smoothly, as both parties understand what actions need to be taken.

FAQ

Ideally, this should be the website design phase. An SEO specialist prepares a list of solutions that should be included in the administration panel so that the website owner can easily introduce elements that are important from the SEO point of view, such as meta titles, alts, link attributes and many others.

Cooperation at this stage is valuable also because it allows you to avoid mistakes and expensive modifications of the website.

Better late than never. An SEO specialist will review the site and prepare a list of changes that should be implemented to make the site compliant with Google algorithms. Give this list to the web developer, or talk to the SEO professional to see if s/he knows a proven expert able to deploy the recommended solutions.

However, it’s worth implementing these modifications before the website actually appears in Google. They don’t have to be very time-consuming, but they can bring numerous benefits to your website.

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Delante is an online marketing agency specialized in generating website traffic from search engines and paid ads (SEO / SEM). Over 80% of our clients are from rapidly growing e-commerce industry.

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