Search Engine Optimization

One of the most fascinating areas of my career, is developing websites to utilize search engine optimization tactics and rank web pages in top search results. The ideology is pure in a lot of ways, because SEO development isn’t based on some handbook to appease search engines on their terms. These guidelines are based on the users’ terms. SEO requirements are purposefully focused on genuine usability, compatibility and clarity for the end user.

The biggest flaw in most websites, even today, is the lack of mobile-friendly design. Let alone, “responsive” design in general. It’s 2017. What web developer looks around at their bus stop and doesn’t notice the crowd of other eager travelers, stooping over their phone and avoiding the awkward eye contact of their peers, while roaming facebook and other websites? I’m comfortable saying, in this day and age, desktop vs. mobile internet usage are closing the gaps. There is a lot of incentive to make sure your website is comfortable to use on any and all devices. Even if it’s just to impress Google: “Starting April 21, 2015, Google Search will be expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in Google Search results. Users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results optimized for their devices.” - https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/6196932?hl=en

Another overlooked aspect of most websites, is page load time. It’s no secret, PageSpeed Insights has been the most useful benchmarking tool for mobile friendliness, page speed, and other little nuances that affect SEO performance. Google and other search engines have set a precedent that web pages should render on the browser within 200 milliseconds. Not a whole lot of time - that’s maybe comparable to the blink of an eye. With that restriction, it makes it important to consider server-side caching tools and also evaluate the amount of resources that the page requests to draw the page. Then sequence comes to mind. Which items should be loaded first? What is allowed to be deferred to after the page loads? What can be loaded in asynchronously as to not lock up the rendering?

The final detriment, that I see a lot of sites struggle with, is the delivery of assets. Using tools like Grunt have really been an efficient way for me to consolidate and compress CSS and javascript for the user. There are even fun tricks to play, if you have the time and resources, to generate a single sprite for all of your website’s images, so that the browser does not have to request each image one-by-one. Read: https://css-tricks.com/css-sprites/.

There are many other things that come to mind when developing your site for SEO. The best advice is to read some guidelines, prioritize and coalesce around solutions that have the biggest effect on search engine ranking, and benchmark your progress until you get results.