Useful technical SEO checklist for developers
Nowadays search engine optimization has evolved to such a degree that it very nearly emulates real world marketing; that is, marketing for the people.
And there is one great truth on this freak world: people are fickle.
But that's the beauty of it.
Modern SEO is so dynamic that almost anything could work, but that's not to say that everything will.
The first step is to make sure our page is accessible to search engines, and that their robots can see the page content.
In Google Search Console, we can see how your page appears to search engines.
IMPORTANT: crawlers can’t access iframes and are limited when indexing content in Flash or Silverlight.
Let's talk about of the URL. The URL is an integral part of user experience and SEO, it’s the first thing search engine crawlers see and, it comunicates them a lot regarding the page and its content.
That means that an URLs need to be clear an clean, easy to read, descriptive and ideally free of URL parameters.
The structure and words you use in your URLs are also very important for SEO. The URL’s path helps search engines understand the page’s relationship and importance to the rest of the site. The words used in the URL tells them how important that page is to a particular topic or keyword.
For a well-optimized URL structure, remember this 3 simple advices:
1. Be Short and descriptive
2. Use Hyphens instead of underscores
3. Use Keywords at the beginning
Your code is very important for search engines that also look at meta tags to learn things about your page.
Even if you don’t write your meta tags yourself (this is often done by marketers), you should still understand how they work for SEO. There are three meta tags that are especially important for SEO: the Title tag, the Meta description, Robots.
Developers need to move content around a site all the time, often hosting it at a new URL and setting up a redirect to send visitors to the new page. Redirects are good for your SEO because search engines like when there’s one canonical version of something.
Try to use redirect on your old pages pointing to your new pages: if you don’t use redirects, you risk search engines serving the wrong page in search results, and assigning trust and authority to outdated URLs.
Make a good XML sitemap.
In reality, Is far more than just a list a list of every URL on your site.
Search engines use the information in sitemaps to crawl sites more intelligently and efficiently so they won’t waste their crawl budget on unimportant or unchanged content. When done correctly, your basic sitemap looks like this:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8”?> <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9” xmlns:xhtml=”http://www.w3.org/1999/html”> <url> <loc>https://www.example.com/</loc> <lastmod>2016-8-01</lastmod> <changefreq>monthly</changefreq> <priority>0.9</priority> <xhtml:link rel="alternate” hreflang=”fr” href=”https://www.example.com/fr/”/> </url>
Robots.txt help crawlers navigate your site. The file contains lines of code that specify which user agents have access to which files, file types or folders. You can use Google Search Console to test your robots.txt file for syntax errors or other problems.
After this technical SEO checklist, what to do when these steps aren’t enough?
What do you do when you’ve created your sitemap and robots.txt file, optimized your URLs and meta tags, and set your mobile viewport, but the traffic still isn’t flowing?
We’ve put together some quick and easy hacks for developers to give SEO a jump start and get websites into search results.
Optimize Your Images
The first SEO hack to look into when optimizing your images is image size. Large images are one of the leading causes of slow page speed and long wait times.
When editing your images, try to scale them down to the smallest file size possible.
Here's are some tools you can use online to help scrub extra stuff like EXIF data:
You can also use your browser console or Google’s PageSpeed Insights tools to find unoptimized images slowing your pages down.
File Name and Alternative Text
The big challenge in using images for SEO has been telling search engines what’s in the image and how it’s relevant to the page. The good news is there are opportunities to optimize your images for keywords:
Filename: Avoid default filenames like “DSC673829.jpg” or “image_01.jpg” unless it’s somehow completely impossible. Try to use: imagename-whatrepresent.jpg ;-)
Alternative text: Alternative text, along with filename, is one of the most important parts of image SEO. It represents the machine-readable "content’ of the image, so it’s your opportunity to include your target keyword. Alt text should be concise, but making it too short will negate its benefits.
Switch to HTTPS
Making your site more secure is a really good idea for you and your users, so it’s a really good idea to get an SSL certificate anyways. However, not using HTTPS is also causing your website to lose positions in search results.
No, the first step is to crawl your website to find all of your URLs, both secure and not. You can use a traditional crawler, like Screaming Frog, that will compile a list of each URL and let you find all the non-HTTPS assets.
Or, use WooRank’s Site Crawl tool to find each instance of HTTPS pages hosting assets on HTTP URLs. These assets include:
- CSS files
HTTPS URLs will show up in the Canonical section as canonical mismatches.
Search Entity Optimization
Semantic technologies are built on what are known as “entities.”
Entities are for example, people, places and things. How will entities help you hack your site’s SEO?
Using structured data markup like JSON-LD, RDF/XML or other RDF formats, you can optimize your brand’s entity to make the most of its entry in the Knowledge Graph.
Entity optimization is also vitally important for local businesses, or large businesses with local locations.
The semantic web is really important for local businesses so you need to take advantage of its abilities.
Use semantic markup like the LocalBusiness schema to add important context to the information about your business:
- Hours of operation
- Phone number
- Payments accepted
- Price range
AMP for Mobile Friendliness
Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project is a set of specifications designed to create pages for mobile devices that are easily used and navigated, render smoothly and load seemingly instantly.
AMP is made of three pieces working together:
HTML: Basically normal HTML with custom properties for images, videos and frames; as well as restricted technical functions defined by the open source specs.
Google AMP Cache: A dedicated content delivery network that fetches, stores and serves valid AMP pages and resources from one origin.
The whole project is designed to help make pages mobile friendly:
User experience: Since AMP JS loads page elements asynchronously, it ensures that the above-the-fold content appears before anything else. Plus, it requires that aspect rations be predetermined, so the browser knows what the page will look like before it starts rendering.
Page speed: There’s a reason AMP as “accelerated” right in the name. Load times for AMP pages are up to 85% lower than other pages.
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