In our last post, we looked at steps to take before redesigning a website or building a new site. Once you’ve laid the foundation, that doesn’t mean you turn the keys to the project over to your web designers and await the finished product.
When many business go about the process of a redesigning, how it looks and the content, features, and usability are usually the top priorities. While search engine rankings are recognized for their importance, too often SEO can be an afterthought and you can’t rely on a design company that claims to build ‘SEO friendly’ websites to cover all the bases.
It’s important to take SEO considerations into account in all the stages of website development. Yes, your website may be listed and rank in the search engines but it’s not realizing it’s abilities to generate new revenue and leads without a more SEO focused approach.
Here are seven omissions web developers can make that harm your SEO:
1. Title Tag Optimization.
The title element isn’t to be ignored or just duplicated across an entire site. They are an SEO ranking factor that search engines use to return results.
Having keyword phrases in the title tag that are supported by keywords or similar phrases in the content can aid your search engine rankings. Also be careful not to have too long a title tag, beyond 70 characters, as that can be a small negative factor.
2. Strong Descriptions.
Descriptions play a small role in search engine ranking as you do want to incorporate the topic and primary keywords in your description. Descriptions are also important as they are what is viewed as the text snippet in the search result. Take advantage of this to have meaningful, curiosity piquing descriptions with strong calls to action.
3. URL Usage.
While you can certainly have URLs that end with /?id=33 may help you identify and locate the page internally on the website, it’s not very user friendly or beneficial from an SEO perspective. A better practice is to find a brief, topical description of the page such as /crushing-candy-crush.
4. URL Redirects.
If you’re moving to a new content management system, you may need to create redirects from your old URL page structure to the new naming convention. Having broken links provides a poor user experience as users land on an error page. By setting up page redirects you can avoid this issue. Creating a custom 404 error page can provide a more pleasant user experience in the unfortunate they land on a non-valid page.
5. Image Optimization.
Page response time is not only a Google ranking factor, having quicker page loads also helps keep users on your site longer. Media files tend to consume the bulk of resources on a website so by resizing images to reduce file sizes, utilizing a CDN to speed up delivery , and making use of alt tags, your website will perform better and images will have a greater opportunity to appear in Google image search.
6. Rich Snippets.
Google Authorship may be dead, but don’t forget there are many other types of ‘rich snippet’ data Google uses in the search results to help users get more information. User reviews, recipe information, photos, music, events, products, and business and organization contact information can all include structured data. By taking up more real estate in the search results, you can get more clicks to your site.
7. Internal Linking.
It’s useful to have an internal linking strategy on a website. Not only does it help users more efficiently navigate, by linking to priority pages on a website and placing the ‘rel=nofollow’ tag on less important links, you can gain an SEO advantage.
Other omissions that can occur when being over-reliant on a designer are website speed optimization, lack of content strategy, and navigational structure. For more tips, check out our post on the elements of effective websites.
By hiring a professional to help manage your project and oversee and implement SEO best practices, you can be proactive and construct a website with a solid foundation for search rankings.