Web Development with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in Mind
When a business owner decides to bring their business to the web, generally the last
thing that they think about is search engine optimization. They assume that whomever they
hire to do their web design will put up a site and then submit it to the search engines
and the traffic will magically pour in. Unfortunately it takes more than that to drive
search engine traffic to your site, and even more unfortunately most developers don't
program with SEO in mind, nor do they educate the client about the process involved in
gaining traffic from search engines.
Whether it's carelessness or a lack of knowledge, or a combination of the two, this
often leads to a client that several months down the road doesn't understand why their
site doesn't get any traffic and isn't helping their business. A good designer will not
only program with SEO in mind, but will also educate the client about the basic principles
of SEO, whether they are the one who executes it or not.
Many times the clients I inherit have gone through this scenario and then face drastic
on-site changes to get their site search engine friendly before we are even able to begin
the arduous process of link building. Whether you are designing a site for yourself or for
a client, following the simple steps below when programming will ultimately save the
business time and monėy and result in a search engine friendly site that truly maximizes
the online potential of the business.
Use Proper Tags for Headings, Bold Text, Italic Text, and Lists
HTML has heading tags, bold tags, italic tags, and ordered and unordered lists for a
reason and you should use them. Using CSS you can practically style them however you like,
but actually using a heading tag for your headings, and bold tags for important text, will
help allow search engines understand what text on a page is a heading or what is more
important than the surrounding text. Simply applying a CSS style that makes text largėr or
bold doesn't do that.
Optimize Your Images
Search engine spiders can't read text within an image. Adding ALT text to your image
tag helps, but ideally you should remove all wording from the image and style it using
CSS, adding the remaining portion of the image as a background image to the text. Here is
a side-by-side comparison of two images that look the same in your browser, but much
different to a search engine spider.
Avoid Canonical Problems
Believe it or not, search engines can see http:⁄⁄yoursite.com,
http:⁄⁄www.yoursite.com, and http:⁄⁄www.yoursite.com⁄index.html
as three different pages. A simple solution is to use a 301 redirect to point all of your
pages to their "www" counterpart. You can also select the preferred domain that Google
shows in the new Google Webmaster Tools console.
Get Rid of Session IDs if You have a PHP Site
Have you ever seen a PHPSESSID variable added to the end of a URL on a PHP page (it
looks something like PHPSESSID=34908908)? This happens because PHP will add a unique
PHPSESSID to URLs within your site if cookies aren't available. This can be extremely
problematic for your site's search engine ranking.