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The Ultimate Guide to Web Developer’s SEO Strategy

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#seo
Blog

Should web developers know SEO?

How do the search engines work?

How do you influence SEO as a web developer?

Not so obvious SEO basics

How to check if your SEO is working?

Use technical search engine optimization

Search engine optimization is one of the most important aspects of a website’s performance as it determines how visible your website is on search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and others.

The right SEO strategy can help make your site more visible to users and drive more relevant traffic. This article is for you if you are a web developer who creates web pages or optimizes them for better performance and user experience. Let us look at some tips to help you improve the SEO of the websites you build or optimize.

Should web developers know SEO?

SEO is a set of online marketing practices that help boost web development efforts and improve the website’s rankings. By optimizing a site’s content and metadata, web developers can improve their chances of appearing higher in search engine results pages when users enter key terms into Google or other search engines.

There are two main types of SEO: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

  • On-page SEO refers to optimizing a site’s content to meet the needs of search engines crawlers and users.
  • Off-page SEO refers to efforts to attract Google’s attention through paid advertising campaigns or other means, like submitting content to directories. The part that you affect as a developer is the on-page SEO.

Even web developers who don’t have a strong background in digital marketing can learn enough to contribute value to projects by researching best practices and writing quality content that naturally ranks well in search results. Why not add something extra to your web development process?

So here it is: a guide explaining the basics of technical SEO for developers.

How do the search engines work?

Search engines crawl the Internet and collect data on web pages they store in their databases. When you enter a search query into a search engine, it looks through its database of website information and compares it to the content on your web page. If there is a match, it displays a list of results in order of relevance.

There are two main components to search engines: indexing and ranking.

  • Indexing is the process of building a database of web pages containing relevant keywords and organizing them into “categories”.
  • Ranking is putting those pages in order based on a set of rules so that the most relevant ones appear first.

How do you influence SEO as a web developer?

A significant part of SEO depends on the content, the selection of keywords, and the backlink database that web developers usually do not deal with. However, there are aspects of SEO that, as a web developer, you should keep in mind, and thanks to which, the pages you create will be better visible in search engine rankings.

Site structure

The website’s structure should be planned so that the users can easily and quickly find the information they are looking for. Make sure that the most important pages can be found after 2-3 clicks. This will make the website have a flatter structure, and users will not give up getting lost in the maze of random subpages.

Technical analysis

This is the part you will take care of when your website is ready. You’ll need one of the page analysis tools – we use , but sometimes we add  to that as well.

After creating an account and connecting to the site, you will receive regular e-mails with a list of elements to improve. These can be broken images, duplicate content, missing meta tags, markup errors, and many others, with a description of which subpages the error occurs and how to fix it. You can also check the issues list in the tool panel at any time. 

Here you can see examples of errors that you will find in the Ahrefs panel.
Here you can see examples of errors that you will find in the Ahrefs panel.

Additionally, Ahrefs and Semrush give you an overall health score to know if you are going in the right direction. Try using them, especially when making significant changes to the website.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a tool that allows you to check the performance of your website. And by performance, I mean how the number of clicks from the search engine result pages has changed, how many people see your site in the search results, and what its average position is. Additionally, you can see if all subpages are correctly indexed. And what is especially important for more complex pages – you can manually upload a sitemap.

Here you can see what a sample https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/8199984320a9cdb126e99d33fdf8c45e49802441/04669/robots.txt file structure might look like.
Here you can see what a sample robots.txt file structure might look like.

The last thing I wanted to write about in this section is the Core Web Vitals report. What I want to say is that by entering this section, you can check if your website loads properly and fast enough for desktop and mobile, and this affects the page’s ranking but is just essential for the user experience. And since site speed is essential for both SEO and UX, it’s really worth checking out.

The three components of Core Web Vitals are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – shows the perceived load speed, where the page’s main body is likely to be loaded.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – measures unexpected shifts of elements on the page.
  • First Input Delay (FID) – measures the time from the user’s first interaction with the website to the moment when the browser can process this event.

You can learn more about 

Page Speed Insights

Thanks to , you can check how fast your website and its individual elements load. You will also see suggestions on how to improve page load parameters.

Sitemap

A sitemap is a text file with a list of all subpages, files, and generally all content on the website. It also provides information about the relationships between the individual elements of the page.

A sitemap lets the search engine know where to look for important parts of the site and provides additional information about the content, like publication date, alternate language versions, or video duration. It also informs about changes on the website, errors and generally helps search engine robots navigate your site.

Do I have to use a sitemap?

Generally, suppose your website is not very complex and has good navigation (meaning that all important subpages are accessible from navigation or links on the subpages – which is connected with the paragraph about the page structure). 

In that case, the search engine bot should hit most places on your website by itself. If you know a website is going to grow, or if it’s already large in the beginning, has an extensive archive of content or many files like images and videos, a sitemap can help you a lot.

The general idea is that you will make the job of the search engine bots easier; thus, your website SEO can increase more or faster than without a sitemap.

Read how to prepare and load your sitemap .

Robots.txt

It tells search engines where they can and cannot enter, so if something is not to be indexed (e.g., 404, privacy policy, cart page, logins) – a robots.txt file is a good idea. 

However, Google documentation says this is not the best way to hide selected subpages from the Google robot, but only to help prevent overloading the page with requests. It may happen that other sites will link to the subpage you want to hide, and the Google bot will index it anyway. 

If you want to be sure that the selected subpage won’t be displayed in the search results, use the noindex meta tag.

Here you can see what a sample https://d33wubrfki0l68.cloudfront.net/8199984320a9cdb126e99d33fdf8c45e49802441/04669/robots.txt file structure might look like.
Here you can see what a sample robots.txt file structure might look like.

Redirects

Every time you change your URLs, you should set up appropriate 301 redirects. Otherwise, search engines may remove changed or deleted addresses from their indexes.

Everyone who enters the old address will be redirected to the new page, and the search engines will index the new addresses after some time.

What redirects to use?

You will probably use one of the following two types of redirect most often:

  • use 301 redirect for pages that you permanently move to the new address,
  • use 302 redirects for pages that you move to the new URL only for a while.

Meta tags

Meta tags are a good way to tell the Google bot additional information about your page. The basis is the two most popular tags, meta title and meta description. This is what the user sees when viewing the search results. And although Google can change your meta description if it finds other content from the subpage more appropriate, it is still worth setting the text of your choice.

You can find a full list of meta tags that the Google bot understands .

Schema markup

This is a code that helps the search engines better understand the content. You can add such code manually or generate it using a plug-in or a generator. Want to get more organic traffic, boost your website’s SEO and make it appear in search results as more than just a title and a piece of description? Enrich your SEO checklist with the use of schema markup.

You can write your schema yourself, but if you want to use a tool for that, check out .

Open graph

Open Graph is a kind of special snippets of code for correctly displaying your page’s content on social media. Maybe it’s not exactly SEO, but it affects how the website’s content looks after sharing on social media, and if you optimize the website, it is also worth taking care of this part of it.

Below I am throwing an example of such tags from one of our subpages:

Open Graph example from Gorrion Software House's site.
Open Graph example from Gorrion Software House’s site.

The use of Open Graph will make it easier and faster for social media users to understand what your content is about. Additionally, Facebook will be able to better identify what you are sharing and increase its visibility.

Broken links

Your website should not contain broken links, that is, links that lead to pages that no longer exist or have been changed. It’s a dead end for a search engine bot and will hurt your efforts to improve the site’s SEO. Also, it’s harmful to the UX as the users will bounce off the non-existent subpage.

Want to quickly check if you have any broken links on the page?  you will find a free tool from Ahrefs.

Internal links

Do you have an influence on internal linking? If yes, make sure that your pages link to each other. You will make the bot’s work easier, and users will be able to find the information they are interested in. Just remember to keep the website structure as flat as possible and not to introduce unnecessary chaos.

Google also pays attention to the anchor text of your link, so make sure you use specific keywords in your internal links instead of the usual ‘click here’.

As an example, I will leave here a link to our article on . (See what I did there?)

Canonicals

Avoid duplicate content with canonical links. The rel=”canonical” tags allow you to mark the main version of pages with repeated content. This means that you should use canonicals to avoid indexing problems if you have several subpages with the same content.

Not so obvious SEO basics

Below are 3 points that you may have read about many times. However, I know they are sometimes forgotten, so include them in your to-do list when optimizing your website.

How to create URLs?

Remember to take care of the URLs when creating your page. They are to be readable not only for you but mainly for users and bots. Keep them short, include the most important information and keywords, and make them easy to remember, and you’ll be fine.

Image optimization

You’ll read about it in every SEO beginner’s tutorial. However, sometimes you can forget about it, so for the record – compress your images to be light but still of high quality, and use alt texts, including keywords in them. Image names also matter, so if any of yours are called final_final_5, change them to something more descriptive before publishing.

Did you remember about HTTPS?

Another base, but there are still sites that don’t have it, so be sure to double-check that you have applied HTTPS on your site.

Do you need to switch to HTTPS?

If you already have an HTTP website and need to switch to HTTPS, remember to set redirects from links from the old version to the new HTTPS.

How to check if your SEO is working?

You already know what things to pay attention to during web development to increase the chance of a website appearing high in search results. But how do you know if you’re making progress? Below are some measures to help you see if you are going in the right direction. 


Also, remember that the changes you introduce most often will not take effect immediately, and you have to look at your SEO strategy in the long term.

1. Organic traffic

I think this is the most intuitive measure when it comes to checking the effects of SEO strategy. 

Go to the Google Search Console panel, and in the Performance section on the left menu, click Search results. You can check there how the number of views and clicks on your page from the search engine changes over time.

Path to the page performance panel in Google Search Console.
Path to the page performance panel in Google Search Console.

2. Indexed pages

Pay attention to how many of your pages/URLs have been indexed. Check it from time to time, and when you see a sudden change, it means something is wrong with the page.

Go to your Google Search Console and select the Pages report in the Index section.
You can also check the approximate number of indexed pages by entering Google site:yoursite.com, though it’s better to use the GSC. But hey, isn’t that a way to test your competition?

Checking indexed subpages of the website using Google.
Checking indexed subpages of the website using Google.

3. Core Web Vitals

Even though Google does not yet consider Core Web Vitals as an important factor in ranking pages, these measures give you a better view of UX, especially page loading speed, which is worth keeping under control.

Go to Google Search Console, and in the Experience section, select Core Web Vitals to find out what the results of your website look like.

4. Website Health Score

I mentioned this in the Technical analysis section (check it to find tools that provide this measure). Your website’s overall score will come in handy for quickly seeing if your SEO efforts are paying off without going into more detailed metrics.

There are many more measures worth paying attention to, but I decided on these four because I know that a web developer probably doesn’t have to spend a lot of time on SEO research in his priorities. The second reason is that these selected measures are closely related to the items I presented earlier and do not require additional study.

Use technical search engine optimization

As you have already learned, SEO is an extensive topic and includes activities that not only an SEO specialist, or content marketer, can do. Keyword research, link building, and content writing may not apply to you, but you can take care of the technical aspects of SEO. At this point, you probably know there are some technical SEO tasks in which web developers can feel comfortable. 

SEO for web developers will help you work on websites for your clients, who will receive a better product from you. You can also use the acquired knowledge to create your own website, which, thanks to appropriate optimization, will be better visible on the web.

What if your website grows and you need a web team to support it? Don’t waste time wandering around; contact us, and we’ll get you the right web development team and help determine what and when to do so that your website is more visible in search results and gets valuable organic traffic.