Web developers are the world’s gift to the Internet. The average, or even above-average, human being is incapable of creating a dynamic webpage out of thin air. Frankly, it can baffle even the most web savvy user; how do you actually make a webpage effective, attractive, and search friendly, all at the same time? Even the best web developers have been known to overlook five absolutely vital SEO aspects of a successful website.
1. XML Sitemaps
This is a must. It’s easy enough to set up, and it’s free! Including a sitemap makes the website that much easier to navigate. To be fair, site mapping can be a daunting task for larger websites that are constantly in transition. There are many different web packages that will create and update the sitemap natively. And if you’re using WordPress, it’s a breeze. In any case, having this set up during the web development process saves a lot of headache for both the developer and the site manager in the long run.
Without a decent analytics package, you may as well stop investing any more into your website. Google offers what may be the most helpful analytics package in Google Analytics, but others do exist. These packages record and analyze the traffic, source of traffic, time of traffic, and dozens of other aspects of customer interaction with your website. Setting a site up from the get-go with an analytics package is a must for SEO because it lets you track what’s working and what’s not.
3. Site Speed
More than just annoying visitors with how long it takes your page to load, site speed is very important for SEO. Google has begun considering the speed of the site in their ranking algorithm. How much weight this criterion holds is debatable, but it is absolutely being considered. Discuss with your web developer the speed of your site and how it can be boosted to a higher level of performance.
Tip: You can check the speed of your site with free tools like Page Speed to be sure your page falls in a desirable range.
4. 301 Redirects
A 301 redirect is a significantly important part of moving an old site and integrating it to a new one. Often a few pages get left behind as stragglers and end up frustrating your website visitors and throwing off your SEO efforts. It’s important that the web developer automate your 301 redirects so that no one is aware of any sort of site changeover.
Some web packages include this within their fee, but be sure that everything is up and functioning before you sign off on a job well done.
5. Controlling Indexation
Indexation is the process by which Google searches your site for content. If you have a large site, Google will likely only search parts of your site, but even if you have a smaller one, only a percentage may be reviewed. It is extremely important that your developer be sure that your website will be indexed as favorably as possible. It is impossible to tell Google exactly what you do want them to index, but you can tell them what not to look at.
By including this meta tag in the head of the page, Google will overlook the content:
[meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow" /]
This is typically only a problem for larger websites and shouldn’t concern much smaller sites, but it is definitely worth discussing with your developer before the deal is done.
You may not know much about web development, but establish with your developer that the above five items are important to you, and the development of your site will set you on the right path to emerging on the other side with a web presence you’re happy with. You don’t have to know everything there is to know — just know the key components to a successful website.
Matthew Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Adam. Matthew is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.