Whether you are an online business or creative trying to get people to read your stories, creating a website that attracts readers is the first step towards success. Without visibility, no one will discover the remarkable products your business has to offer or your opinion on various matters. Without traffic, your hard work and content creation will all go to waste. With excellent SEO, attracting customers and readers and having them stay on your website will be far easier and you will be on your way to success. If your website has the SEO techniques highlighted below, your website will become easier to discover, read through, and will work well on any device. Clients or readers looking for what you offer on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo will find your website or blog before your competitors.
What is SEO and why is it so vital?
SEO refers to all the techniques used by software developers to make websites more search-engine friendly, thus making them more visible by ranking them better than your competitors. There are three main forms of SEO:
On-Page SEO: these are the techniques used to make content on web pages easier to read for both users and search engines. These include factors such as meta tags and titles, which are illustrated later in the article. Other aspects include content depth, which is the level of engagement, authority, and value your content offers your readers. On-page SEO also incorporates keywords related to your niche or area of interest throughout your web pages.
Off-page SEO: these are techniques meant to boost organic traffic and make your website more visible without acting on the site. It is all about using other channels to boost your website’s exposure. Off-page SEO means working with social media influencers, guest blogging, brand mentions, social media ads, and other methods of marketing. Backlinks from major sites and brands in your niche prove the authority and credibility of your brand, a major Google ranking signal.
Technical SEO: these SEO techniques focus mainly on your website’s backend, optimizing your site’s code for indexing and crawling by search engine robots. Technical SEO is valuable because Google must return the most relevant and useful results to its users and will therefore crawl through all websites looking for specific factors (signals). This is one of the main reasons we advocate for regular website maintenance. Some are based on user experience (mobile-readiness and loading speed), while others look for what your page is about (URLs, meta tags). Technical SEO is best implemented by qualified website developers with excellent backgrounds in scripting to avoid costly technical errors that can ruin your site’s ranking.
Why SEO is vital for your website:
It makes your website more useful to your audience
You can agree that nothing is more frustrating than searching for specific products or information on search engines only for them to return irrelevant results. The same applies to your clients and readers; you may be offering what you require, but without being visible, the information you have is no longer valuable to them. in addition to offering up your website, you hope that users have a great experience on it and obtain valuable content. To ensure that its users get the best possible content, Google uses over 200 ranking signals. These signals guide it to find the most relevant information for website users. By optimizing your website to meet these requirements, you are assured of a better overall UX for website visitors and that they will be guided towards the goal you have in mind.
For marketing your products in the long run
If you have decided that paid ads such as PPC are not going to be your method of getting traffic to your website, then SEO is the only other option available for the website designer. They will consider your marketing campaign while coding your web pages to ensure that the search engine robots reading the content read it quickly and clearly. SEO is highly valued by the marketing community for the sustained traffic it brings to company websites in the long run at virtually no cost. If you are a small business, you do not have the resources to dedicate the 1% of company income to marketing, meaning that free avenues like SEO are your best option at getting clients. PPC advertising will help a brand new website and business gain recognition and traffic fast, but only lead to 2% of conversions and can be costly. SEO takes longer to deliver results, but once the numbers start climbing, conversions will increase for an extended period. Moreover, compared to PPC, SEO delivers up to 15% conversions, making it worth investing in for the forward-looking marketer.
Among the most valuable aspects of SEO used by today’s SEO-aware web developers include:
URLs for SEO
Your website’s URL will not only be valuable for clients seeking your products but also for SEO. the first thing that search engine bots see is your URL, making it one of the website designers’ top priorities. It tells a lot about the content on your page, meaning that it should remain clean, concise, and descriptive. Some examples to illustrate these qualities are:
You will agree that the second option is easier to read and describes what clients will find in the page with various product types. The first URL is difficult to read both for humans and robots, which will find the additional parameters confusing, not to mention not describing what content the web page has.
The URLs also require the keywords that are synonymous with SEO. the path in the URL helps search engine bots understand the relationship of specific pages with the entire website and how relevant the pages are to a certain topic. Website designers typically create URLs with the following characteristics:
- Possess hyphens rather than underscores: URLs optimized for SEO use hyphens to separate words rather than underscores because search engines use the latter as separators and will therefore read URLs with them better. Since they do not recognize underscores, the search engine will read words separated with these symbols as if they were never separated, and will therefore be unable to recognize and interpret the keywords.
- Short and descriptive: the keywords in the URL should be relevant to your web content. These must remain at the beginning so that search engines allocate them more value. The shorter the words in the URL, the more weight they get otherwise the search engine may find your URL spammy. The URL must also keep stop words like ‘except,’ ‘and,’ and ‘the’ to a minimum. If you need to use a longtail keyword, consider removing categories or subcategories to keep your URL short.
- One page, One URL: all pages on your website should be served on their URL
Search engines also refer to meta tags to find out more about your page, making them a crucial aspect of web design for SEO. Meta tags are often added by marketers for specific content on pages, and web designers emphasize the following types of meta tags:
Title tag: this is the most important meta tag for informing search engines what your page is about. It is a vital on-page SEO technique that carries weight in determining whether your content is relevant to a user’s query. A properly-optimized title tag is between 50 and 60 characters including spaces and punctuation.
Meta description: these are not necessarily crucial for ranking but are still valuable for SEO. at times, the search engine will crawl through them to determine the content on your page and titles and will show up on the search snippet. Well-optimized meta descriptions are clear, accurate, and have keywords written in bold. A proper meta description will boost click-through rates and reduce bounce rates, thus helping your site look more authoritative and worth ranking higher to search engines. It must also remain below 160 characters.
Robots meta tag: this tag directs search engine bots whether or not to index a page or follow the links on it. the ‘nofollow’ value instructs search engines not to follow the links on a specific page, and should therefore be included in the content attributes for pages with paid links. The noindex tag prevents search engines from indexing pages they find by following links added to other websites that still remain visible because of your robots.txt file. The robots.txt file is a text file that instructs search engine bots on what pages they should or should not crawl. If you have a robots.txt file, the robots meta tag is still important as without it, search engines will show the pages among the results and replace the meta description with ‘A description for this result is not available because of this site’s robots.txt.’ Again, if the web designer uses the noindex tag, they will enable it in the robots.txt file so that search engines can see it.
Web developers often need to transfer content to a new URL as your website’s dynamics change. Redirects are used to help users find your content at the new URL. Using redirects is important for SEO because search engines treat the old and new versions as canonical versions of each other. Thanks to them, users will find your new page and search engine bots will not get confused and treat the new page as a duplicate of the other. 301 (permanent) and 302 (temporary) redirects transfer full benefits to the destination page so you do not worry about ranking and traffic. They also help you avoid 404 errors and dead links.
If your website takes more than three seconds to load, then it is too slow and could be the main cause of high bounce rates. Google, the most used search engine, requires web pages to render ATF content in less than one second. This means that between the DNS lookup, TCP handshake, HTTP request, and ATF rendering, you have only one second. Web designers ensure web page loading speed remains high by:
- Optimizing image size using applications like Photoshop or dedicated plug-ins
- Minimizing ATF content to 148kb and below
- Removing excess code and characters using tools like JSMIn, and YUI compressor to reduce bandwidth usage
- Using Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) to ensure pages load quickly on mobile devices
Clean HTTP responses
Clean responses ensure that search engine bots do not waste time on retries or penalize your page because of dead links and Error 500’s. Some things to avoid in website design include:
- HTTP 404: if a URL keeps returning a 404 ‘Page not Found’ error, then there is no page at this location. This error is also a sign of a broken link, which is bad for SEO.
- HTTP 301: the ‘Moved Permanently’ alert should not show too often on your website, and you should consider updating the links to avoid too many redirects.
- HTTP 500: ‘Internal Server Error’ means that the page is completely broken in the ‘eyes’ of the search engine and action needs to be taken to restore the site online.
It goes without saying that the majority of people use their smartphones or tablets for everything, making mobile-readiness a crucial part of SEO. For instance, Google recently released a mobile search algorithm called Mobilegeddon, leading to a new ranking signal called ‘mobile-friendliness.’ Web developers use various parameters such as touchscreen readiness, mobile rendering, text size, and loading speed to ensure websites load and read well across all devices. Google’s Mobile-friendly Test can help you determine aspects of your site’s mobile version that need improving.
An XML sitemap is a simple file that developers upload to the Google Search Console or reference via the robots.txt file. This file is a list of all the URLs on your website. It is valuable for massive websites as it will save time by allowing search engine bots to find all your URLs without following the thousands of links on it.