From search engine optimization (SEO) to conversion rate optimization (CRO), the initial stages of web development lay the groundwork for success. Unfortunately, many vital SEO and CRO elements of web development go overlooked. As a result, businesses scramble to clean-up code, optimize meta data, implement Schema, and address important components that should have been taken care of pre-launch.
Whether your optimizing an existing website or building anew, below we underscore several key web development strategies that set the tone of high performing websites.
1. Schema Markup
When it comes optimizing your site’s content in a way that better communicates to search engines, Schema is sure-fire way to gain a competitive edge. Schema is a set of HTML tags that are designed specifically to help communicate aspects of your site’s content to search engines. In turn, Google, Bing, and other engines will better interpret your site and position your rankings accordingly (often better without it.)
Because only 36% actually have Schema, it’s one of the easiest ways to get an SEO edge on your competitors. For those with limited technical capabilities or access to the site’s HTML, implementing Schema may require the aid of web developer. But in the long-run, it’s one of the most powerful ways to boost your search engine performance almost instantly.
2. Optimized Media
For media-rich websites that contain a lot of images, videos, or animations, optimizing these media files is important for SEO as well as user experience. These elements of dictate how fast a website is in terms of load speed. A slow loading website not only hinders usability and how visitors engage with sites content, but it’s also a search engine ranking factor that can diminish it’s placement.
There are a couple ways to in which media can be “optimized.” First and foremost, never use Flash media. This clunky medium cannot be crawled nor indexed, and will dramatically diminish a site’s SEO.
Now that we’ve got that important aspect out of the way, the first way to optimize media is to minimize its file size. For instance, if you’re uploading images that are 5,000 x 4,000 in size, obviously those are massive images that do not need to be that large for website. Shorten large images down to about 1,200 x 1,000 or less to make them smaller and quicker to load.
The second way to optimize media is to implement SEO techniques to the file’s properties. Prior to uploading an image or video to the website, open up the file’s properties and populate the details fields. This will include the file’s title, sub-title, tags, comments, etc. Here you can use your target keywords to establish greater relevancy for SEO. Not only will this help improve the ranking potential of the give page hosting the media, but this strategy can also help each image or video rank in Google itself (i.e. Google Image search or YouTube).
3. Internal Linking
Another variable the influences both user experience and search engine optimization is internal linking, aslo known as cross linking. These are the links found in the copy of your page’s content, as well as breadcrumb links, sitemap links, or any other form of internal linking between to pages.
Internal linking can help guide users to the types of content or pages they’re seeking, namely the contact page. Additionally, these links can connect to related pages. When the anchor text is keyword relevant, these types of cross links can help improve SEO by establishing greater keyword relevancy. In some rare cases, they can also facilitate a “double stack” listing in the organic search results (or both pages appearing, resulting in double the search visibility.)
4. Layout, CTA’s, & Conversion Rate Optimization
Other aspects of web development, which cross over into areas of web design, are the general layout, calls-to-action (CTA’s), and other forms of conversion rate optimization. These strategies are very important to making the most of your visiting traffic. And a lot of ideas can be cultivated from defining a the site’s conversion goals.
Define what action you want visitors to take and help this objective instruction the layout, CTA’s, and overall CRO strategy. Take for instance the simple design of the Traverse Web site you’re currently on. Because we’re encouraging users to submit a contact form for a free consultation, we’ve made the CTA and form clearn and obvious on the right side column of the page.
Canonicalization is important to ensure similar pages are not stepping on each other and diminishing SEO value of the site. The ever powerful Moz does the best job at defining canonicalization:
“A canonical tag (aka ‘rel canonical’) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs. Practically speaking, the canonical tag tells search engines which version of a URL you want to appear in search results.”
In the WordPress sites that we develop here at Traverse Web, we use the Yoast SEO plugin which has a canonical tag feature built in. This makes it easy to define the proper URL you want showing in the search results, and it’s especially important for multi-location or franchise SEO.
6. Google Integrations
There are a few important Google integrations that must be properly in place for a website to be well optimized. One that’s particularly important for local SEO and Google Maps marketing is properly embedding the Google Map snippet of the business’s location. This Google Maps embed should not only include the address of the business (or its given location in the case of multi-location businesses), but should also include the Google verified name of the business, along with contact information. In short, the Google Maps embed should be specific to the given business’s location.
Another one that’s often overlooked by even the most savvy search engine optimization professionals is a KML file. KML files are tools to better communicate your business’s geographic information in manner that’s easily understood by applications like Google Maps and Google Earth. Leveraging KML files is a simple way for Google to verify your business listing and its location.
Other important Google integrations include setting-up Google Search Console (or Webmaster Tools) as well as Google Analytics. Whether from the perspective a web developer or digital marketer, these key integrations are essential to track and monitor the performance of a site, both from a technical and front-end standpoint.
This article is a guest contribution by Tyler Tafelsky, Senior SEO Specialist of Captivate Local. Specializing in local SEO and Google Maps marketing, Captivate Local emphasizes a search-first approach to website development, content marketing, social media, and other digital marketing channels. Connect with Tyler on LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.