No one can deny the importance of optimizing a website for search engines. It’s one part of digital marketing that can make or break a business. However, many people don’t realize that optimizing a website isn’t simply the job of the SEO specialist. The developers have to be involved as well.
The importance of technical SEO is often underestimated. Unfortunately, many web developers don’t know how to optimize a website for search engines. But there is some good news: sometimes SEO professionals work with developers, so the two disciplines go hand in hand and complement each other!
When it comes to technical SEO for web developers, there are some rules that every developer should know. For example, they must know how to redirect various types of URLs so that crawlers can index pages properly. They also need to understand how to create an XML sitemap, which is a list of URLs that helps crawlers understand the site structure. And finally, they need to be familiar with the robots.txt protocol, which makes it possible to block unwanted crawler activity on your website’s pages.
Technical SEO is about understanding how search engine crawlers index websites and ensure that your pages are optimized for them. It’s much more than just site architecture and the ability to build a well-structured site. Everything has to be done following search engine needs and with the end goal of improved organic ranking.
How do SEO Specialists and Web Developers Collaborate?
On the whole, web developers and SEOs need to work together to satisfy customers. Too often, web devs design and build websites without thinking of how search engines will rank them, and SEOs come in afterward trying to fix what should have been done right the first time. With both groups working together right from the beginning, customers will be happier with the finished product and with the results from their website’s search engine ranking.
Neither group can do their job well if they aren’t working together from the start. Web devs need to understand how search engines rank websites, and SEOs need to know how websites are coded and designed. By working together, they can create a website that is both pleasing to the eye and good for search engines.
For a website to truly be successful, both the SEOs and developers must work together to create a functionally and visually engaging website. By collaborating, they can ensure that the website meets all requirements and provides a great user experience. Their collaboration will result in a graphically good website with all the needed functionality without any SEO issues.
Developers work on creating a well-functioning website, while SEOs help to improve its visibility. By combining these two specialties, businesses can create a website that looks great and functions flawlessly.
A website that functions perfectly and looks professional can produce a high conversion rate, leading to more sales for the company. Additionally, a website that is both SEO and user-friendly usually ranks higher in search results than one without this advantage.
Be on the same page
The best way for both groups to work together is to be on the same page. Developers need to understand how SEO works to create pages that are optimized for search engines, and SEOs need to understand how code works so they can better communicate with developers.
For instance, developers need to understand that search engines are looking for well-coded pages with content that is relevant, unique, and matches users’ intent. SEOs need to know how websites are made to work more efficiently with web devs.
A developer’s job can be made easier by understanding the basic rules of site optimization, for instance, the functions of keywords and their use in titles and meta descriptions.
Similarly, an SEO’s job can be easier by knowing how code works and what might cause errors. By understanding each other’s jobs, the two groups can work together more efficiently to create a functional website that is also search engine friendly.
Dealing with Errors
A web developers’ job isn’t just coding. It’s also to ensure that the website is fully functional and no errors are present. As search engines crawl through pages, they may notice errors such as broken links, low loading speed, 4xx errors, etc., leading to a lower page rank. If there are errors on your website, Google may not even index it properly.
Both SEOs and developers work together to ensure that websites are running smoothly and efficiently. They often work together to troubleshoot errors that may occur on websites.
Both groups can identify issues more quickly and fix them by working together. While SEOs are experts at identifying errors on the site that could affect rankings, developers can go in and correct these errors, so they’re no longer on the site. Without such a collaboration, these problems will likely exist for a longer time and can affect search engine rankings.
Website Speed and Security
Both SEOs and developers are always looking for ways to improve website speed and security. Website speed is one of the major ranking factors. Google may not even show it in the SERPs if a website loads too slow. This means that users will never see the site, and therefore, there is no chance for it to rank.
Developers are always working on ways to improve website speed. For example, they ensure that code is streamlined, making websites faster right out of the gate. Developers also work with SEOs to ensure that URLs are short and friendly, the relevant text is included in titles and meta descriptions, and images are compressed.
SEOs work closely with developers to identify issues that may arise on the site, affecting speed. They also communicate ways to improve speed, such as having multiple smaller pages instead of one large page with tons of content.
The most common scenario for splitting a page is when the total size of all assets on the initial page exceeds browser network limits. Another reason to split pages is to speed up rendering time. Breaking page resources into smaller chunks can reduce the time required to render a website.
Site security is also critical to both SEOs and developers. They work together to keep the site free from malware, viruses, and other threats that can affect user experience and lower page rank. If users can’t complete transactions on your website because it’s insecure, they’ll leave.
How to Establish Effective Interaction with Developers?
Developers are known as the behind-the-scenes masterminds of any website or application. Because they’re responsible for coding and creating all of the functionality, it’s important to have a good rapport with them to get what you need. But establishing effective interaction with developers can be tricky for SEOs if they don’t know where to start.
Get to know the development projects
The development team can vary significantly from company to company; some might have only one back-end developer while others might employ dozens of front-end developers. Make an effort to get to know your dev team and the area of responsibility before you even ask anything about the development process. Once they realize that you’re genuinely interested in knowing more about their job, they’ll be more likely to help you out.
If you don’t know anything about the development process or tools, it’s best to start with some small talk and simple questions. Developers are usually happy to share what they know, but avoid asking anything too specific until you better understand how things work.
Website development works more like a project than a production line most of the time. This is called an agile cycle. Ask your developers how the team manages projects and their major milestones throughout the development process.
Moreover, there are many concepts in website development that SEOs might not understand, so it’s important to ask for clarification when necessary, for instance:
- Scrum: putting out a list of desired features and development tasks
- Sprint: a predefined period of time where developers focus on completing specific tasks
- Acceptance Testing: checking if the app meets certain specifications and requirements
- Epics / User Stories: a list of features that development has to work on first before moving on to other ones.
- Kanban: a system that shows all development tasks and allows team members to manage them
Furthermore, SEOs need to dedicate time and effort to learning about website development to establish effective interaction with developers. Without a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, and JS, the SEO team will have a hard time communicating with developers. And without knowing how different tools work or what certain terms mean, SEOs won’t be able to get accurate answers from devs.
- HTML: the coding language that creates web pages (front end)
- CSS: the coding language that creates web styles (front end)
- SQL: format for accessing data in a database (back end)
- PHP: a server-side programming language that’s used to create dynamic web pages (back end)
Once you familiarize yourself with the way developers work, you’ll be able to develop a trustful and efficient working relationship that benefits everyone.
Integrate SEO for web developers
Some people in the development community believe that search engine optimization is a field that only concerns marketers and website owners. However, developers need to understand how SEO works, too.
In an ideal situation, SEOs should educate the development teams on how web development and SEO impact main priorities via basic SEO training. They can establish clear goals and develop a plan that serves both SEO and business objectives.
Moreover, with a basic knowledge of SEO, developers can take part in solving technical SEO issues that negatively influence search engine optimization. Doing a technical SEO audit using site audit software by SE Ranking will give you a complete picture of all the technical issues that need to be solved. Upon completing the website audit, devs and SEOs can analyze all the existing problems and immediately fix them.
Nevertheless, SEOs should also consider developer specifications during the planning phase. The team might not always be able to make things SEO-friendly. If the website has specific technical limitations, SEOs should consider working around them instead of asking developers to change things out of their control.
Another thing that SEOs should do is establish whether or not the chosen technology stack (PHP, Python, etc.) is SEO-friendly; this will save the devs time and prevent them from having to switch technologies.
Finally, SEOs should monitor traffic and performance metrics throughout the development process. This allows them to make mid-course corrections early on if necessary.
Separate features and bugs projects
There are two kinds of projects in a typical DevOps cycle: features and bugs. Bugs are issues that prevent a website from working properly or have some other sort of negative impact on user experience. They need to be fixed fast to avoid negative effects on business goals.
In contrast, features such as mobile customization, internal search feature, proper indexation of internal search results pages, etc., add new value to a site. SEO work should fall into this category because it’s about making targeted efforts to improve user experience and conversion rates.
In order to make SEO development more efficient, it’s essential to separate the bugs from the features. It’s recommended that you separately track and prioritize work on both projects in a spreadsheet or Kanban board. This will allow you to determine which changes are most important for improving search engine visibility.
Respect Dev Team expertise when describing the problem
It isn’t always easy for SEOs to collaborate with developers – after all, the two teams operate under different agendas and have other areas of expertise. In order to make sure collaboration between the two teams is effective, SEOs should respect the Dev Team’s expertise and work with them to develop a plan that meets everyone’s needs.
Instead of telling developers what to do, SEOs should describe the problem. Explaining the objective and the issue that needs solving is key to your long-standing relationship. Then discuss possible solutions or what you think will happen if nothing is done. Any assumptions will have been tested by the end of this process, and a solution will hopefully be clear. This approach removes the risk of a mismatch in expectations.
You can also talk about what you’ve tried to do, presenting a relevant case and why it didn’t work. If developers realize that SEOs have done their research, they’ll be more willing to collaborate on future projects.
In addition, before writing a bug report or a ticket, give it some thought and ask yourself whether the issue is critical enough and worth a developer’s time. If the bug isn’t critical, it’s probably not worth reporting.
SEOs and developers have to work together to achieve the best result on the road to a high position in the SERPs.
As we know, devs are good at dealing with the technical part of the website. We also know technical issues greatly affect a website’s search engine ranking. That is why you, as an SEO specialist, can satisfy user intent and optimize your site for search engines.
However, you shouldn’t forget about the ways of building good interactions with developers, as your fields significantly differ and a lot of misunderstandings can arise. Follow the advice mentioned above, and your communication will lead to a positive result.