Drawing a distinction between developer and designer is not always a good thing to do. The two jobs should go hand in hand, and it is usually the same person who does them. However, for our purposes today I think it will be helpful to delineate between the two. Think of the difference being that one designs what the user sees and the other develops what the user doesn't see. The developer, in this sense, goes "behind the screen" to build the site in such a way that it optimizes the content for search engines. So, what does a developer need to do for good SEO? Let's get started.
Wait, not yet!
Sorry, one thing: I know I said this last week, but its worth repeating. The SEO minded developer is not concerned with executing tricks of the trade to bump up the search result ranking of a site. The SEO minded developer is interested in making a better user experience ... even with stuff the user never sees.
SEO Developer Checkboxes
When a search engine crawls a site, it doesn't look at it. A search engine doesn't see the way you and I do. (Though they are getting better at it.) When a search engine crawls a site, it reads the site. Though pictures and images might be worth thousands of words to you and me, they aren't worth a click to a search engine. This is why alt text is so helpful. Alt text tells a search engine what the image is. This is especially important on a gallery or product page that is very picture heavy.
In the same way that alt text tells a search engine what a picture is, title text tells a search engine what a link is. It also tells the users. This can be helpful because you may not want to disrupt the flow of thought in your copy to explain where a link is pointed.
Example: SEO can be affected by any number of factors (even color) because it all comes back to the user experience.
See what I did there? I linked to an article and told you (and search engines) the name of it withOUT muddying up my sentence.
As you have probably guessed, page titles tell a search engine what the page is all about. These can actually be more tricky than you imagine. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Don't simply use the name of the website. Everyone already knows that title already.
- Do be helpful to the user. If it's the About page make sure the first work is "About" or something similar.
- Do use keywords. Think of the industry and area.
Example: Pastry Selection from Scone On Bakery in Baton Rouge LA
Page description: Pastry Selection Company name: Scone On Industry: Bakery Location: Baton Rouge LA
This is one of those things that literally no one will ever see. It is strictly to register with the search engines themselves. Yes, a search engine is going to find everything, but they appreciate being helped along the way. It's a sign of good faith that you are not trying to hide anything. It would be very beneficial to check out Google Webmaster Tools where they offer tons of helpful advice on this and other issues.
We've talked about this before, but a good search engine wants to connect searchers with companies and sites that are alive, active, helpful and that truly care. Analytics are a great way to learn what your clients like, where they are from, for what they are looking and where they are going on your site. If you are at all interested in SEO, I would say that Google Analytics are a must!
I hope you found this little post helpful. Tunein next week when we talk about what the copywriter needs to know about SEO!