The term SEO developer is not widely used. But from time to time you might come across it and wonder what the role is talking about. In a nutshell, it is just a fancy way of saying a developer who is mindful of Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short. We touched upon what SEO is in our Website Building Dictionary. But just to recap:
SEO is a way to get your website to rank in search engines organically. In other words, get to the first results in the unpaid section of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). Among the search engines, Google is by far the most used. This is also where most of the competition takes place. Over the years, digital marketers have been able to identify factors that one can manipulate to rank better on Google. Some of them include, how often other websites link to your main domain (Domain Authority), how often websites link to your other pages (Page Authority), the quality of your content, your website loading speed and mobile-friendliness.
This is where the developer comes in. SEO developers simply take into account these aforementioned factors when they build websites. Taking best SEO practices into account is a proven positive investment in the future, because the SEO team is going to knock on the developer’s door eventually anyway. So why not create your website with SEO in mind rather than hot fixing it down the road? To escape that headache and lessen SEO teams’ burden, these are the things a developer can make sure are in place.
Statistics Gathering Software
Developers need to make sure that the information on the website is successfully being gathered. While there are many options to do just that, most websites use Google Suite’s products like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. The developer must make sure that the script Google provides you with is installed properly. Otherwise, it would be difficult to accurately gauge how the website performs on search engines.
Now, the next few recommendations are not developer’s job per se. But it is highly appreciated. You can help your SEO colleagues with filtering out the company’s own traffic to make data more precise. As it can get quite cumbersome to do for a non-technical person on his own. Additionally, you can help set up on-page events. That would help SEO guys understand better where desired actions on a page are coming from.
One of the most important factors for SEO is the content quality. However, your content could be amazing in quality, but if Google can’t properly index it, it becomes useless. The developer plays an integral role in making sure that the website is crawlable. Mostly because it falls on their shoulders to build the URL structure, which directly affects crawlability and SEO in general. In layman’s terms, a good URL structure means that every page, video, image should have one separate, valid address. Duplicates are penalized by Google, which leads to lower ratings in SERP. To avoid this, Google advises building canonical URLs. The following Google recommendations allow developers to avoid most of the problems with crawlability.
Another way to increase load speed time is to decrease the time to the first byte. In essence, it’s the time browser has to stand by before receiving its first byte of data from the server. Google suggests a time to first byte to be less than 200 ms. There are four factors that can affect time to first byte. They are web server configuration, traffic, dynamic content creation, and network issues. Of these four you have control over two – server configuration and dynamic content creation. Many websites use Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal. Those CMS have dynamic pages, which means they have to communicate with databases before they are loaded up. You can reduce time by enabling browser caching. It stores websites elements on visitors’ hard drive in a cache. It ensures that for subsequent visits users pages load faster, as the files are pulled from said cache. You reduce load time significantly as fewer elements have to load.
An alternative angle you can attack load speed from is file size. The smaller your files are the faster everything loads. If you need a quick fix compression is something you might want to look into. Especially due to HTML and CSS code being repetitive.
Mobile-friendliness is another important factor that Google values when it comes to SERP rankings. One measures it mostly by how responsive the mobile version is. Here search giant extents a helping hand too with responsive web design fundamentals. The guidelines are not to use large width elements, as well as CSS media should be used to apply different styling for small and large screens and at last but not least, content should not rely on a particular viewport width to render well.
Seeing as how subdomains are considered to be its property by Google, developers might encounter the same URL structure problem in the mobile version as they do with desktop one. Where ‘m.domain.com’ type of subdomain would lead to duplicates, which confuses the search engine’s crawlers.
Speed is always a concern, but especially so for mobile. Here a single style sheet could be a good option. It gives you the ability to control your layout covering all your platforms. This way you kill two birds with one stone. It keeps your content on mobile that search engines like to see, while reducing calls to the server. Each CSS file is a separate request. Therefore, reducing them to one removes overhead.
Apart from dynamic pages, CMSes and coding frameworks typically have very useful plugins. If not handled properly they can cost your firm dearly. Not only in search engine rankings but also quite literally in money. Search plugins are especially dangerous in this regard, as they can rack up your company’s hosting invoice by eating up a lot of bandwidth. All because, when they glitch out they create blank contentless pages every time somebody types search query. Needless to say, it is terrible for SEO too. Other plugins might automatically put links into your footers, which is completely against Google’s recommendations. As a general rule of thumb, be careful when you install new plugins. And when you do, monitor them closely.
Ranking high in the search engines is the SEO team’s job, but developers could improve their odds by building a website with SEO in mind. While it might seem like extra work, it should be seen as an investment, because high positions in Google add to everybody’s bottom line. Here at Wiredelta, we made our choice, applications we design are SEO-friendly