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Hand in Hand: Web Development and Search Engine Optimization

Here’s a common practice we see with many businesses wanting to have an online presence: The client commissions a web developer to build a website from scratch. The developer completes the project and turns it over to the owner. The client then contacts a SEO specialist and finds out that there are some things that should be changed in the way that the site is built to make it more appealing to and easily readable for search engines and its bots. The client then contacts the developer to make changes to the site.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong with that scenario. First off, if the client hired a freelance web developer, the former cannot be assured that the latter would be free by the time the client decides that there should be changes on the site with regards to search engine optimization. Another reason, what if the site is built around Flash and JavaScript? Then the SEO specialist tells the client that the way the site is built would not be able to rank well. It could mean starting from almost square one again.

My point is that before you commission someone to build a website, make sure that they are privy to on-page optimization. This is the part of SEO concerned about how the website is built and how it would be read by search engine bots. If they are not familiar with it, you can either look for another developer or have an SEO specialist work side by side with the developer.

Now, if you are already in the process of having a website built and you do not have the budget to hire a full-time SEO guy or gal, here are some tips to serve as a guideline to help you make your site more search engine friendly.

1. Have only one URI for your homepage. Yes, URI because a URL is a URI but a URI is not a URL but I digress. What it means that if I visited www(dot)yoursite(dot)com/index.html or www(dot)yoursite(dot)com/index or http: //yoursite(dot)com, it should point to only one page. You can set it with the www or without it, with /index.php, /index.html, or plain /index too but stick with only one. Your web developer should know how to do this.

2. When it comes to page size, keep it below 150 kilobytes. If you said that some websites have page sizes way more than that, it is because this sort of limit only applies to sites without significant authority. Yes, like the site that is yet to join the World Wide Web.

3. Content is king. While it can be appealing for a website to have all sorts of bells and whistles, if it has no readable content for search engine bots (written words/text), it would not rank well. So try to stay way from Flash intros.

4. Don’t drive people away. Yes, people (generally) love music and music is meant to be shared. But please, we don’t want our speakers coming to life without any warning. It can be very frustrating if you auto-play some sort of background music on your homepage. In this age when multi-tabbed browsing is the norm, it could be very frustrating going from tab to tab to see where that music is coming from.

Aside from these four, there are other things to consider in making your website more appealing for search engines. Do not be overwhelmed though since if you made the right decision in hiring a web developer or a web development team, they would know at least the basics of incorporating SEO tactics in web development. Then you can just pitch in the new things you learn along the way like the four pointers above.

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