Search engine optimization (SEO) is often viewed as a proprietary technology or part of a broader marketing strategy. What should a web developer do with keywords, backlinks, and all the elements of SEO?
As search engines and their ranking algorithms become smarter and more complex, technical excellence is required. This is where web developers come in.
That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to SEO for web developers. This guide covers all the aspects of his SEO that his marketing team and his SEO team need to help improve the performance of their site and achieve top positions in search engine results (SERPs). I’m here.
Before you start reading this guide, activate your exclusive Semrush Free Trial and put your knowledge into action!
SEO for Developers: The Basics You Need to Know
As a web developer, you don’t need to learn the details of search engine optimization. Feel free to skip some parts and focus on just what you need most: technical his SEO.
But at least it helps to understand the basics of SEO and its key elements.
The idea behind SEO is simple. Search engines have specific ranking algorithms that take into account specific criteria when defining the SERP position a page should take.
This is important because users never get past the first page (or the first 10 search results, which typically contain ads). This means that you will get the traffic you need only if your page is highly ranked.
The goal of site optimization is therefore to align with these algorithms considering:
technical SEO—or how the bot crawls and indexes your site and its core functionality. These include page load speed, mobile readiness, site structure, and more.
On-page SEO—or how the content of the page aligns with your target keywords. In addition, user experience (UX) is also an important factor.
Off-page SEO—or, basically, the number of sites linking to your site. This indicates that your site has the authority and credibility to rank highly across search engine results.
Technical SEO aspects and UX require web development skills to be successful. This means that your magical he web development prowess can affect two of the three components of SEO success. Read on to find out exactly what you can do to improve your site’s performance.
7 things web developers can do to improve site performance
Create a clear site architecture
Every great website starts with a well-thought-out site architecture.
This helps web crawlers index your site and see which pages they should rank for. Additionally, it helps users to easily browse your site and get to the pages they want to visit.
This is your site architecture should not do looks like:
Image Source: Backlinko
And this is how it should be:
Image Source: Backlinko
This means you need to make sure that your web pages are properly linked and that internal links leading to them aren’t left missing.
Pro Tip #1: Add a sitemap to guide the bot through your site so that it crawls and displays each page you want indexed. If you want to hide some pages, be sure to specify it in robotst.txt.
Pro Tip #2: Double check for missing internal links on some pages. There are quite a few website auditors out there that can help detect technical (and not just technical) SEO issues and internal linking issues themselves. You can use Semrush’s Site Audit tool, his one of the most comprehensive and powerful site health checkers on the market (you can try it with this extended his 14-day free trial).
Image Source: Semrush’s Site Audit Tool (Internal Link Report)
Build (and maintain) clean code
Whenever you choose how to build your site or web pages, or add something to them, choose the simpler approach that doesn’t put extra strain on your code.
Keep things simple and think UX above all else. Because search engine algorithms are designed to give preference to sites that are more user-friendly and lightweight.
Ensure lightning-fast page load speeds
No heavy image or video deserves an extra second of page load speed. Load time is an important ranking factor. A 1 second delay can cost him his SERP position and lose visitors.
This is becoming increasingly important in the age of mobile-first experiences, where speed, convenience, and UX play a large role in site performance.
According to research:
Pages that load within 2 seconds have an average bounce rate of 6%.
If load time doubles, bounce rate jumps to 24%. This means that a quarter of her hard-earned visitors leave the page before it loads.
Almost half of the traffic is lost if the page takes longer than 6 seconds to load.
So it’s not just about ranking algorithms, it’s about losing the visitors that your marketing and SEO teams have worked so hard to get. Additionally, it sends negative user experience signals to search engines, pointing out matches that may be irrelevant to users.
Image Source: Semrush’s Site Audit Tool (Site Performance Report)
Make sure your site is as mobile friendly as possible
By 2021, 66% of all traffic will be mobile, and that number could grow in the coming years.
Add to this the fact that Google’s move to mobile-first indexing (meaning that search engine bots now crawl mobile versions of sites) means that non You’ll find it’s your job to deliver a flawless mobile experience.
Pro Tip: If in the past some sites could ignore the arrival of mobile first, today this is no longer an option. Run your site through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and use Site Audit’s exclusive checks to optimize your site for Core Web Vitals. Updated page experience.
Image Source: Google’s Mobile Friendly Test
The bigger your site, the more problems you face. After all, as a web developer, you are constantly asked to update content, move web pages, and add new features and elements.
Your job is to smooth these transitions and minimize their impact on your SEO. But things can get lost along the way, like forgetting a temporary redirect or seeing a broken page that you didn’t realize.
These issues affect how both users and search engines view and rank your site.
Correct use of redirects can negate potential problems that arise from all site development, so be sure to use the correct ones when you use them.
301 redirects: This is a way to tell search engines that you’ve permanently moved your page to another location. This is a good SEO strategy of his to use as it moves most of the link juice (aka page authority) to the new web page.
302 redirect: This means a temporary redirect which means the move is not permanent. You should generally use this if you want to update or rebuild something on your website while keeping your link equity intact.
Pro Tip #1: If you make a permanent page move, be sure to update your internal links and add the new URL.
Pro tip #2: Avoid redirect loops and chains, two of the most common redirect problems. These negatively impact UX and SEO as visitors may not reach the intended page. These are often hard to find, so a site auditor can be used to easily detect this front-line issue.
Image Source: Semrush’s Site Audit Tool
6. Help search engines read and understand page content
Unlike users, search engines use HTML and metadata to analyze page content and determine if it’s the best match for a user’s search query.
Web developers can let Google know that their pages are the best.
How? Via title tags, heading tags, and metadata.
Make sure your title has a title tag and use subheadings.
Each page should have a good meta title and meta description. This can indicate to search engines that the page is relevant to the query and can also help improve your CTR as Google often displays metadata within search results.
Add image alt text to all visuals in the page (this also helps visuals show up in image search).
Image Source: Semrush’s Site Audit Tool
7. Add relevant structured data to trigger rich results
SERPs include special formats for displaying rich results and additional information such as reviews, recipes, etc. The main advantage is that your site will be more competitive as you will get more clicks.
Rich snippets are displayed thanks to structured data (schema markup). Developers hold the key to adding relevant structured data to trigger rich snippets on their pages.
Pro Tip: Use Schema.org or Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to write the code and add it to your page’s HTML. Later, you can use the Site Audit tool to monitor your structured data and remediate it if necessary.
Image Source: Semrush’s Site Audit Tool (Markup Report)
SEO for Developers: Earn Special Bonuses
A large part of a web developer’s SEO job is concerned with finding and fixing everything that can hinder a site’s performance from a technical SEO and UX perspective. (Also read: 10 things every modern web developer should know.)
Currently, for small sites, manual checks can solve the problem. But when your website grows beyond a few dozen pages, you’ll need the help of a site auditor to handle the hard inspection part. Get started with a free Semrush trial that gives you access to the Audit tool.