SEO hacks to use right from the development phase
Notice: Guest blog post from Ethan Roy
Search engine optimisation is a continuous process that goes throughout the website life cycle. Sadly, SEO and website development are treated as two completely different aspects by the website owners. These two tasks are usually performed in different time lines.
For most of the website owners, SEO be like “let’s complete the development first, then we will hire an SEO team or agency to clear up the search engine visibility later ”
No doubt, hiring an SEO expert would always be a beneficial step. But have you considered the possibility that some really important SEO tasks can be done at the development phase itself?
In fact, it becomes really easy for the SEO team to do their job if these optimisations are completed by the developers at the early stage.
I have put together some SEO hacks for the developers to give a kickstart to search engine optimisation and get their websites into the search results. So, let’s hop in.
Adopt the AMPs for Mobile friendliness
Much has been talked about the importance of mobile friendliness both for improved conversion rate optimisation and search engine optimisation. Whether it is about,
- Google switching to mobile first index,
- Google using mobile friendliness as one of its ranking signals,
- Number of mobile visits surpassing the number of desktop visits,
Mobile is everywhere.
We keep talking about mobile friendliness, but what exactly is a mobile friendly site?
Mobile friendliness in simple terms is a measure of how much optimisation has been done on a website to serve quick, complete and user-friendly content to the mobile users.
There are uncountable ways to optimise your site for mobile friendliness, but there is one hack that your developer can adopt at a very early stage - Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
Google's AMP project provides a set of instruction and specifications for the developers to create pages for mobile devices. These pages are extremely fast, user-friendly, and render very smoothly on the mobile devices.
AMP was a Google's initiative and an indication that mobile friendliness is going to be a huge factor in SEO. For smart AMP development, the developers need to bring three pieces together:
A. AMP HTML- The normal HTML with some restrictions that ensures reliable content performance in terms of usability. Most of the tags are from normal HTML only, while some are replaced by the AMP specified tags. For example, amp-img tag in place of simple img tag provides srcset support in all the browsers, even if they don’t support it.
C. AMP Cache- In simple terms, is a proxy-based content delivery network that delivers all valid AMP documents. AMP cache fetches the AMP HTML pages and makes a cache of them to ensure faster loading of the pages.
If you are using the AMP specifications to develop your pages, you are already deep into mobile optimization. From UX optimization to page speed optimization, you can achieve everything Google SEO wants through the AMP-based development.
Google says loading time of AMP pages is up to 85% lower than the regular pages. Just imagine the positive effect it is going to have on your website's SEO.
Optimize for Google Entity Search
Google rolled out the entity search almost four years ago. It was an effort to make the search results more relevant by identifying the meaning of the search strings. The simple blind keyword matching was not enough, and it generated more of the irrelevant search results.
With entity search. Google started to focus on the meaning and co-relation of the search strings with the real-life context.
But, how would it help you to hack your website’s SEO?
Through semantic search information and Google’s Knowledge Graph.
The knowledge graph is a repository of information Google search uses to show relevant search results by including semantic-search information gathered from different sources. It expands the knowledge base by accumulating the relationships through search strings and correlating them with real-world connections. Simply, the real world connection between the content and how users search them.
By using Structured data markup like JSON-LD, RFD/XML, you can optimize your brand's entity to get the most entries on the Knowledge Graph. Never fail to point to your social media profiles and blogs, they provide extra information that is useful for the searchers.
Why gain a visibility in entity search?
The semantic web is important for building your brand identity, moreover, it plays an important role in optimising for Google local business listings. If you are optimising your entities to structure the data markup, you are automatically providing enough data to Google for including you in local search results:
To enhance the chances of listing, use semantic markup like LocalBusiness schema that will add important information about your business like:
- Hours of operation
- Address of business
- Phone number
- Price range
- Awards etc.
Adopt HTTPS for security and SEO
It's important and is a necessity today. Making your site secure is one of the top priorities, so getting an SSL certificate is anyhow the best thing. However, if you are not using HTTPS your are hurting your website SEO significantly.
40% of the Google Search Results on Page 1 are HTTPS. Google always prefers the sites that are secure, trusted and certified. It was not a surprise when Google announced HTTPS as one of its ranking signals. By switching to HTTPS you are adopting a very simple and surefire SEO hack on your site.
The hack is simple, but switching takes a while. Even if you recently got the SSL certificated and migrated HTTPS, there is still a possibility that some security gaps are still there. You need to check if your pages don't have the assets that Google won't like.
How to do that?
First of all, crawl through your website and find all the URLs- secure and not secure. You can use various tools to crawl your website and enlist all the URLs- Screaming frog and xml-sitemaps.com are two examples.
Check if all the URLs have been migrated to the HTTPS URL structure. Migrate all those which have not been switched yet.
Next job is to find and fix each instance of HTTPS pages that have assets in the HTTP URL. For example, Images, CSS files, Videos, Scripts, Frames, etc.
After the HTTPS pages with HTTP assets are fixed, you still have few more checks to perform.
Fix the Robots.txt: Since Google sees HTTP and HTTPS URLs as two different URLs, sticking to HTTP URLs in the robot.txt would have nothing effective for your HTTPS site. You have to migrate all the URLs in robot.txt file to HTTPS to make it effective for your new secure URLs.
Fix the Sitemap: The Sitemap would still have the URLs from your old HTTP site. So, Google would be still crawling your insecure URLs, while you have secure URLs now. To fix this, change all the insecure URLs in your Sitemap to the HTTPS version.
Fix the Canonical Tags: What's the purpose of Canonical tags if they possess the wrong URLs. It's like not having the Canonical tags that all. Check all your Canonical tags and you will see URL mismatch in all of them. It is due to the old HTTP URLs used there. Fix all the URLs are replacing with their HTTPS version.
Of course, there is a lot that your SEO expert can do to improve your search visibility and lot more. However, there are things that your SEO executive cannot do as efficiently as the developers can do, and they are meant to be completed by the developers itself. The hacks in this content are the perfect example of what your website developer need to do to get going with your website SEO.