Optimizing your content is essential for ranking in the SERPs. However, if Google has problems interpreting your page, your SEO copywriting efforts will only go so far.
Developers play a key role in making a website easy for google to crawl, index, and rank. But getting started with SEO as a developer can be a little overwhelming.
In this post, we’ll share 8 best practices that will help you get started in SEO as a dev.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Top 8 SEO Best Practices for Devs
- Specifying which content Google will see.
- Prioritizing speed.
- Setting up the right types of redirects.
- Testing your site on mobile devices.
- Keeping Google aware of changes in your content.
- Implementing structured data.
- Making google aware of different versions of your content.
Let’s take a closer look.
1. Specify Which Content Google Will See
Having control over what Google sees on your site is important, sure, but how do you do that? Well, there are many ways to determine what Googlebots will or won’t see.
You can block the Googlebot by:
- Restricting access to your content to registered users, using a login page or password.
- Adding a noindex tag to prevent Google from indexing your page but allowing it to be crawled.
- Creating a robots.txt file. With a robots.txt file, you can set the rules that determine which areas of your site crawlers should crawl.
A robots.txt file is a static text file that contains instructions for search engine crawlers on how to crawl and index your website’s content.
Conversely, if you need your content to appear on Google Search, you can:
- Use Google’s URL inspection tool to see if Googlebot can access the page.
- Check your robot.txt file to see if it’s blocking Googlebot from crawling your site.
- Check your HTML to see if there are nofollow noindex rules in your meta tags.
2. Prioritize Speed
Offering a fast-loading site to your users is essential for ranking high on the SERPs.
In fact, experts believe that the first five seconds of page-load time have the highest impact on conversion rates (Portent, 2019).
To make sure your website’s as fast as possible, we recommend:
- Loading your CSS & JS selectively and asynchronously
- Using next-gen image formats, such as WebP
- Compressing your images (and delivering responsive images if possible)
- Lazy-loading your images
- Visualizing your page with Google Webmaster Tools. This way you will see the page from Google’s perspective.
- Contrasting the source code with what your users see (or rendered code) to make sure they align. You can get it done with our free fetched vs. rendered audit tool.
- Examining specific URLs with Google Search Console’s URL Inspection tool.
4. Use the Right Redirects
Redirects are extremely useful. They’re a great tool to:
- Prevent content duplication and consolidate redundant content
- Continue providing value to users when the content they were looking for has gone offline
There are different types of redirects, and each type is most fitting for certain use cases. Using redirects correctly sounds like a trivial task, but it makes a big difference in terms of SEO. The wrong redirects can give search engines an inaccurate picture of your website’s structure and priorities.
The two most common redirects that affect SEO are 301s and 302s.
A 301 redirect tells search engines that a URL has been permanently moved to a different destination. That way, search engines will transfer most of the link value to the newly created page.
A 302 redirect, on the other hand, indicates that a page has been temporarily moved. This is ideal if you’re redesigning or updating your site, since the original URL’s value will be preserved.
Curious? Learn more on our ultimate guide to redirects.
5. Test Your Site on Mobile Devices
54.8% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. That’s one of the reasons why Google prioritizes mobile-friendly sites.
In fact, Google will index the mobile version of your site. This is called “mobile-first” indexing. In other words, Google will judge your site based on the experience it gives to mobile users.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to evaluate your website’s mobile performance. This quick check will tell you where there’s room for improvement. But if you’d like a more detailed audit, consider using Google Lighthouse instead.
As you become an SEO-savvy web developer, you may want to try more specialized technical SEO tools. These tools will give you deeper insights, that you’ll eventually learn to interpret.
6. Keep Google Aware of Changes to Your Content
If you have recently created tons of new content, make sure Google finds it quickly.
- Submitting sitemaps. When crawling your site, bots follow links to see where they lead. The ultimate way to facilitate this process is by adding a sitemap, as they provide Google with clues about how pages are interconnected.
- Requesting Google to crawl your site again.
If you’re working on a WordPress website, consider trying out a WordPress SEO plugin. The best SEO plugins usually include instant indexing. Basically, they allow you to signal to Google that new content’s live, directly from your WP dashboard.
If you continuously struggle to get your page indexed, Google recommends checking your server logs for errors.
7. Implement Structured Data
When it comes to rich results, an SEO web developer has a lot of work and a lot of room to shine.
You can use structured data to lead Google to your content’s golden nuggets.
Structured data is a standardized format that provides Google with concrete information about your page so it can rank it. Structure data comes in several formats, depending on which type of content you’re publishing. Recipes, for instance, are structured by ingredients, cooking time, and calories, among other aspects.
Curious about how to implement structured data? You can find more info on Google Search Central’s blog and in the video below.
8. Make Google Aware of Other Versions of Your Content
Hopefully, you aren’t finding this out now, but Google doesn’t automatically know it when there are multiple versions of your website or content.
For example, it might not know if your site has mobile and desktop versions or localized ones. Here’s how to make sure Google always displays the correct version of your site:
- Make your AMP pages discoverable.
- Make Google aware of localized versions of your website by implementing HREF langs.
- Set canonical tags on all your pages.
SEO Is an Ongoing Process
Now you know some best practices that will help you support your team’s technical SEO efforts.
Nevertheless, you should know that technical SEO isn’t a one-off task. Keeping your code clean and detecting potentially harmful changes on an ongoing basis is crucial. However, it can be tedious at best and impossible at worst. That’s where SEORadar can help.
SEORadar monitors your website’s code so you don’t have to. SEORadar automatically crawls your codebase, looking for changes that may affect your SERP positioning. From a simple “noindex” tag to a missing keyword, SEOR detects changes on over 100 HTML elements.
In case of an error, you will be notified automatically so you can take action before your rankings drop.