Code & SEO

Making the Most of Code & SEO

Article Maximizing Code and SEO 01
Article Maximizing Code and SEO 02

Maximizing Code and Search Engine Optimization

I know that it’s tempting to stop once you have finished planning the look and feel of your website.

After all this is the glamorous part and it’s easy to see the changes which make it feel very real to you. Everyone wants a website that looks and feels amazing but not all websites are the same “under the hood”. Having said that many people are intimidated by the thought of code and those strange but familiar letters S-E-O. Because of this a site with properly written code and well crafted SEO or “search engine optimization” may seem like a step you can just skip, particularly since there will be little to actually “see” and therefore it may seem like it’s not changing very much. However, SEO and valid code are vitally important so don’t be tempted to quit the race too early. Why does it matter? It matters because proper SEO and valid code will get the attention of “organic traffic” from search engines which means it will get people to visit your website without paying for the privilege of the visit. Since many of your competitors are paying Google up to $50 just for a single visit to their website, particularly for high demand keywords like insurance or loans for example, it is easy to see how much free traffic can save you in the long run.

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What Good is a Website Without Visitors?: If you ignore this area you may find that your beautiful website will not get many visitors, if any at all. A beautiful website without the proper SEO and code implementation is like a sports car without an engine. It may look good but it’s not going to get you anywhere. Assuming that you want people to actually visit your website it’s time get started with implementing proper code and SEO. I hope this article will make it a little easier for you. First let’s talk about SEO. In the past Search Engine Optimization was a task that could simply be added on after a website was completed. In fact as recently as about 4 years ago it was as simple as adding in a few keywords, a site description, and keywords for each page. Throw in some alternate image text for each picture and you were set. Unfortunately many are still practicing this outdated method of SEO and charging people a small fortune to do it I might add. Often the businesses who pay have no idea how many visitors they get so afterwards they believe that this service helped when it often has the opposite effect. This is because Google has begun enforcing results penalties for websites that try to trick them into giving their sites higher search results without any improvements in code or content.

So if the old style is out what should we do now? Today you can still revise your SEO in the code once your site is online, however it must be done by carefully re-designing the code and it’s underlying content and including things like proper semantics, a minified code-base, and also adding in new and relevant information to the text. Unfortunately for many SEO companies this requires much more knowledge of actual code and proper design that they have which is why the word SEO has gotten such a bad name in the past few years as companies do more harm than good to the sites they attempt to “help” with SEO.

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Don't Settle for a Partial Fix: Even properly corrected SEO is a just a partial fix because to truly stand out with search engines, especially Google, SEO has to start at the beginning of the design before a single line of code has been written. This is why a true professional, familiar with the latest standards, can produce a website that looks somewhat similar to an amateur but it will still outperform the amateur site every time. Having said that the best way to get the attention of search engines from the start is to create amazing content that is properly researched and well written. Well written content is one of the most important steps to take when optimizing your website for search engines. In fact if you remember one thing from this article please remember “there is no substitute for great content”. If you would like to have the number one spot for a web search your website needs to have the information people are trying to find when they perform that search. Without that there is no reason for Google to direct people to your site and they will not do so no matter how well your SEO is written. What really helps is when you combine well written content with proper SEO; the combination is like rocket fuel to Google and other search engines. When all of these things come together a site is poised for rapid growth.

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Now that we know why we need a properly designed site the first decision you will want to make is which languages to use for the website. It can be confusing as there are many to choose from like PHP, XML, DHTML, and many others. The best way to handle this is to find a developer that is very familiar with all of these languages and knows which one is right for you. If you don’t state a preference then many less skilled developers will usually just choose the language with which they are most familiar whether this is the right choice for your website or not. This can be a huge mistake and one that can cost you a lot of free visits from Google. Choosing the proper language can be extremely important to any website that wants people to visit which is just about every website out there. When you make a decision as to which web development professional to go with you will want to ask them which language they prefer for your design. Our choice for coding at Falcontail for many small and moderate business websites is native HTML5 which is the newest and most powerful web language available. The reason for this is very simple; HTML5 is clean, powerful and lightning fast and it works across almost every device available. Plus it’s use is growing rapidly since it is “future-proof”. Another compelling reason is that Google loves it, particularly in combination with a “responsive design”. When it comes to free traffic it never hurts to have Google on your side does it? Also HTML5 works extremely well in combination with Javascript and PHP which are our languages of choice for most back-end programming like forms and databases. Another advantage is that HTML5 is an “open source” language meaning that it is not proprietary and is free to use, unlike some languages like Adobe’s ColdFusion for example. Plus it is based on the latest “open standards” and has very little extraneous code that may confuse or mislead search engines. It’s no wonder that search engines like it so much is it?

To Wordpress or Not to Wordpress...

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The next decision you have to make is whether to go with a web design “platform” like Wordpress or with a native code-base. While Wordpress is a very popular platform because of the low costs of entry it is not usually a very good choice for a commercial website. It is a particularly bad choice for SEO. This is because the templates that are typically used with a Wordpress website tend to be very cluttered, overly complicated, and much slower than other websites. This is often due to the high number of semantic errors and other coding mistakes. Another drawback of a Wordpress site is the environment necessary to build and maintain them is much more expensive. While it is true that Wordpress is free to use, the cost of running and maintaining a Wordpress site is often a deal-breaker. By the time that you buy all of the plug-ins and make all of the changes needed to properly implement a Wordpress site you might as well have paid for a much better performing site created with native code. HTML5 by comparison is much cleaner, faster and will allow for much better SEO which will bring those visitors we all want. The takeaway from this is that it is not as easy to create a well-performing website as many would have you believe. It is almost always preferable to consult the right professional to help you sort out this process in the beginning versus paying them to straighten it out later or worse missing out on a well-performing website altogether.

A Little Professional Advice: My advice, don’t skimp on a properly designed site at the beginning just to pay much more in the years that follow. Do your homework and get a designer that has the experience needed to navigate this road for you or you may find yourself stranded along the way.

Thanks for reading this article. We would love to hear your comments or feedback. Please feel free to Contact us or follow us on social media for more information or to say hello. Thank you from Falcontail Marketing & Design!

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David Landrault of Falcontail

David Landriault

I am the co-founder of Falcontail Responsive Web Design. I am passionate about solving complex problems for businesses through the intelligent use of design and modern technologies. My true passion lies in creating cutting edge web designs but I also love coding, photography, and videography. I got started doing freelance web design for small businesses in 1999 where I focused primarily on making large commercial websites that were profitable and affordable. (More)

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