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How to Make Your Website SEO-Friendly | A Developer’s Guide

It’s hard to find technical SEO information over the web. This cheat sheet is aimed at helping web developers new to search engine optimization with improving their sites’ interaction with both search engines and users. The SEO best practices outlined below apply to sites of all sizes and types and will make your website easier to crawl and index. After all, search engine optimization often boils down to making small modifications to different parts of your website. When combined with other optimizations, these changes improve your site’s user experience and subsequently its performance in the organic search results.

SEO-guidelines-developers

1. The Importance of Unique and Accurate Page Titles

For each page on your website, indicate the page title with a title tag. A tittle tag serves to tell both users of your site and the search engines what topic the page covers. Ideally, you need a unique title for each page. The title for your homepage can be your business name and include other important bits of information such as a physical location or a few of your main business focuses.

SEO Best Practices:

– Choose a title that accurately describes the topic of the page’s content.

– Each page should have a unique title tag.

– Use brief but informative titles.

2. A Page’s Meta Description Tag

A page’s meta description tag summarizes what the page is about. It can be one-sentence long or it can be a short paragraph. Like the page’s title tag, the meta description tag also goes in the <head> tag of your HTML document. Meta descriptions tags are important for pages on a website because these are often used as snippets for the pages by Google.

SEO Best Practices:

– Use a description that accurately summarizes the content on a page.

– Use a unique description for each page.

3. Mind the Structure of Your URLs

Organizing the documents on your website under descriptive categories and file names keeps your website tidy and it helps Google better crawl the documents. It also creates simple-to-understand and user-friendly URLs. A URL that contains relevant words provides users and the search engines with information about the page unlike oddly named parameters. Also remember that the URL to a document is displayed as part of a Google search result.

SEO Best Practices:

– Use URLs with words and not session IDs and other unfriendly parameters.

– It’s advisable to use hyphens to separate words as they’re treated as spaces by the search engines, .e.g. homes-for-sale.html

– Use a simple directory structure to organize the content on your site.

– Provide only one URL to access a specific document to avoid splitting the reputation of that content.

4. Navigation is Important

The importance of the navigation of a website is two-fold: to help visitors find their way around the website and for the search engines to understand what content is more important to the webmaster. Plan the navigation of your website based on your home or “root” page, the starting place of navigation for many visitors.

SEO Best Practices:

– Develop a naturally flowing hierarchy for your content from general content to increasingly more specific documents.

– Control most of the navigation on your site through text links. Avoid navigation based entirely on javascript based drop-down menus – you’re alright if the dropdown menu is CSS based and can be navigated by the search engines.

– You need an HTML site map page and an XML Sitemap file.

– You need a custom 404 page for the occasional user who lands on a page of your site that does not exist.

5. About How You Use Your Images

For any image on your website, have a filename and “alt” attribute in place. The “alt” attribute enables you to specify an alternative text for an image should it not show for one reason for another. Sometimes users may access your website through a browser that does not support images. The alt attribute then provides information about the image that cannot be displayed.

SEO Best Practices:

– For your images, use brief but informative filenames and alt text. Avoid generic filenames like “image11115555.jpg”

– You may also consider having an Image Sitemap file.

6. Robots.txt

Sometimes, you may not want certain pages of your website crawled because they are not useful. Using the Google Webmaster Tools robots.txt generator, you can restrict the search engines crawling certain areas of your site where it is not needed. This file should be placed in the root directory of your site. Refer to this guide on how to structure your robots.txt file.

7. rel=”nofollow” for Links, especially in User-Generated Content regions

If your site has a blog with public commenting turned on, within some comments, links may pass your reputation to pages you have no inclination vouching for. Specifying the value of the “rel” attribute of a link to “nofollow” means that certain links on your site should not pass your page’s reputation to the pages linked to. This advice also stands true for other areas of user-generated content on your site.

8. Make Sure That Your Mobile Site is Indexed by Google

If you have a mobile site, you need to verify that your site is accurately indexed. Googlebot must crawl your website before it is included in Google’s search index. When you create a mobile site, also create a Mobile Sitemap and submit it to Google. A Mobile Sitemap can be submitted using Google Webmaster Tools.



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