If you’re one of the millions of website owners who relies on organic website traffic, as opposed to paid search, your site needs to be SEO-friendly. More than that, your site needs to be optimized to perfection to grab all the free traffic you can.
What’s the secret for making sure your site ranks high for organic search results? Here’s our list of tips for SEO friendly website development guidelines.
Tip #1 – Make Sure Search Engines Can Find You
If your page is accessible to search engines, their robots can see the content on your page. Using Google Search Console, use Fetch as Google in the Crawl section. You can see pretty quickly how your page appears to search engines.
Tip: Little search engine crawlers can NOT access iFrames, and they’re limited on what they can index for Silverlight or Flash. Aim to keep content in HTML for maximum visibility.
After you confirm your site can be seen, crawled and properly indexed by Google, follow the SEO website development guidelines below to make sure your site keywords relate and provide a good user experience as well.
Tip #2 – Make Sure Your URLs are Clean
The URL is the address for your web page. This is a big part of your user experience AND the search engine crawler experience. Your URL identifies the page content. The URL for each page on your site should be clean, structured, easy to read, and descriptive.
Here are two URLs for examples:
Which one is better? The latter one. It’s cleaner, easier to understand, and more likely to be shared by users and loved by search engines.
Tip: Since WordPress lets you customize the URL structure for your website pages, take advantage on this! Keep your blog post URLs to the point and brief, yet descriptive as well.
How to Optimize URLs
Your URL actually helps the search engine understand your site, the way it’s organized, the way a user would navigate it. As part of your content strategy, take the time to think about your URL structure. The words in your URL explain how relevant content on the page will be for a keyword or topic—this is rather a big deal. To make your URLs even better, try these SEO friendly website development guidelines below.
A great URL should be:
- Short—this is self-explanatory
- Descriptive—try to use keywords on the particular topic you’re discussing
- Avoid stop words—don’t use: the, a, of, on, at, for, with, etc.
- Hyphens, NOT underscores—when separating URLs, always use a hyphen. Search engines view hyphens as word separators, while underscores don’t mean anything.
- Important Keyword FIRST—crawlers assign more value to the first word in the URL, so it’s vital your keywords go first in your URL
#3 – Keep Meta Tags Clear
Search engines love to take a peek at your meta tags and learn about your organization. What’s the essential know-how for optimizing meta tags?
This is the most important tag. It’s the strongest hint you give search engines about yourself. Use your MOST important keyword at t he beginning of your the title so search engines can understand the page’s topic here. Use no more than 60 characters, and that INCLUDES spaces and punctuation. If you’re using more than one keyword or you’re including your brand, separate them using pipes (the | character).
A great meta tag will look like this:
<title>Lama Care Tips | Lama Grooming Tutorials</title>
If you are optimizing for local area search results, you may add your location, industry, business, or other location info in the tag.
A tag targeting local businesses may look like this:
<title>Kamine & Sons | Roofing | Mayville</title>
While these aren’t used directly to determine your rank, they are still important to SEO. Search engines sometimes look at them to help determine a page’s topic. Your search snippet combines your title, link with your meta description. This is what ends up in search results. So, your meta description is essentially working as a free text ad for yoru page. The keywords matching the search queries will appear in bold.
What does this all mean for you? If your meta description is nice and clear, your CTR goes up, and your bounce rate goes down. This is good news. Search engines notice and your rank will increase.
Can you include awesome (read: tantalizing) words like ‘free shipping,’ or ‘sale today’ in your meta description to attract searchers? You might gain even more new users.
Sample meta description:
<meta name=”description” content=”A short description of your page, max 160 characters.”/>
The robots meta tag tells search engine crawlers if they can index a page or follow the links on that page. This robot meta tag prevents search engines from indexing pages which they discover by following links on other sites—some of which are not prevented by the robots.txt file.
Robot meta looks like this:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”/>
Want to prevent a search engine from following links on your page? Add the “nofollow” value in your content attribute. Why would you do this? If your page has a LOT of links that you don’t want to pass value on for, or if your page includes paid links.
If you do disallow pages with the robot.txt tile you still need a robots meta tag. Sure, Google isn’t going to index these pages, but they can still show up in search results. The results might just look like: ‘A description for this result is not available because of this site’s robots.txt’.
So basically, if you’re using the meta robots noindex tag, make sure you don’t also disallow the page in your robots.txt file, because this will prevent the crawlers from ever seeing it.
Guess what? Redirects are actually good for your SEO. Why’s that? Because search engines like it when there’s one canonical version of something. If you have two paths to get to the same destination, this confuses the search engine—and watch out! They may treat your site as duplicate content.
Redirecting your old pages, and pointing them to your new pages, ensures that users wind up in the right place. It also helps search engines and spiders find the right pages too! Without redirects, search engines can serve the wrong results, and they will assign authority to outdated URLs. In summary, redirects are your friend.
What redirects should you use? Using 301 redirects are for permanent redirects, and using 302 redirects are for temporary redirects. Using 301 redirects allow you to move content and not suffer much in terms of ranking and traffic.
Tip: In times past, it was SEO good practices to stick to using 301 redirects. Currently, however, 302 redirects are being treated as legit, and Google is passing along the link juice and full Page Rank. However, try to NOT use more than 1 redirect. Google does not like a redirect chain. Not to mention, it’s a really annoying user experience.
Planning to do a site migration? If your URL strings can stay the same, try using the .htaccess rewrite method to save time.
Tip #4 – Schema Markup
Schema.org gives markup categories which provide meaning to the content on your page. This is fantastic data for search engines, and they appreciate it. They thank you by showcasing you better. Schema is well worth your time, and if you’re not already including the markup in your sites—time to get on board.
Great Places to Use Schema:
Your About Page—You can kill it here with schema! Use schema to call out your address, your hours, your prices, and it will be a major boost to your SEO. This is how you learn to speak the search engine language!
Curious how schema really works? Google your favorite recipe. In the results, you’ll see a title, a URL, a meta description… and a picture of your dish!
So here’s the deal, schema is basically spoon-feeding search engines’ descriptions of your content. The better they understand what you’re presenting, the better they can present it in search results. After your schema looks good, time to move on to mobile. Here’s our low-down on SEO friendly website development guidelines for mobile.
Tip #5 – Mobile Friendliness: SEO Friendly Website Development Guidelines
Google recently dropped a bombshell with its mobile search algorithm. So, this is basically a new ranking known as “mobile friendliness.” We knew this was coming. After all, how many of us are on the web ALL THE TIME on our phones?
Mobile friendliness (according to Google) is defined by a few criteria. If your site already has a mobile version, go check it out on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. (If you need help, feel free to ask us to make you look even prettier on mobile.)
WooRank SEO also offers a great peek into how well you’re doing on mobile. WooRank helps you identify specific things hurting your site’s mobile friendliness. This might include text size, using Flash, or other issues. The following SEO-friendly website development guidelines can help you improve for mobile friendliness.
Be Mobile Ready: SEO-Friendly Website Development Guidelines
- Keep images small & optimized—Avoid using HTML to reduce your image size. Yes, this changes the appearance of the image. However, it’s better to use Photoshop, to reduce the actual size of your images.
- DO rely on browser caching—Making good use of browser caching canreduce the number of HTTP requests.
- Stary using Google AMP—Google Accelerated Mobile Page markup has a dedicated cache, storing stuff, and it serves them nearly instantly. Wowzers, no joke. Time to get AMP rolling on your site.
- Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights too—it’s a quick measurement of the performance of your page as both mobile and desktop. It can help you find bottlenecks.
To wrap it up, search engines are your friend. They just want to understand you and provide a good experience for folks searching. We just need to talk to them in their language. All they want to do is provide their users with the best possible results pages based on search queries, which is really your goal too. We hope you do refer to these SEO Friendly Website Development Guidelines often, and continually refresh your site to improve it.
There’s never a guarantee you’ll be the #1 organic ranking for any keyword, but if you optimize your URLs, redirect intelligently, and follow good practices with schema and meta tags—you’ve mastered half the battle of ranking well on the internet. We hope these SEO-friendly website development guidelines help you achieve your goals.
Does your site need content help? Reach out any time for consultation or advice on how to get (and stay) optimized.