These days, a website is more than just a good idea for building your brand and exposing your audience to your products.
It’s an essential part of running any digital-age business online or offline, so it’s crucial that yours be on point.
Web development and search engine optimization (SEO) are two key factors in making a success out of any website. But while they do intertwine with each other in significant ways, they are very different.
Here we’ll go over some of the most essential things digital-age business owners and marketers need to know about web development vs SEO, including how to effectively use the two together.
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What is SEO?
Short for search engine optimization, SEO is a collection of methodologies and strategies designed to help a website achieve higher rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).
The higher the search ranking, the easier it will be for your target audience to discover your brand, content, and products.
Many individual factors make up a standard SEO campaign. They may include (but not necessarily be limited to):
What is Web Development?
In contrast, web development is an umbrella term that encompasses all of the tasks that go into building, launching, and maintaining a website.
It’s a web developer’s job to ensure all of the technical aspects of a site are functional and working as they should.
Duties may include:
- Web markup and coding
- Web design and programming
- Database management
- Facilitating mobile accessibility
- Web publishing and content management
- Optimizing and testing user experience
Web Development vs SEO: How Are They Important?
When it comes to web development vs SEO, it’s not a matter of which is more important and deserves more of your focus as a business owner or marketing professional.
They’re equally important and deserve to be prioritized equally. Here’s what each brings to the table.
Why SEO is Important
Without SEO, it simply won’t matter how fantastic your website or your products are.
Unless they’re directly sent the URL by you or someone else, potential customers have zero chance of ever finding your site or purchasing anything they might find there.
A solid SEO campaign makes your site discoverable by people using search engines to find answers to questions, solutions to problems, and products that might make their lives easier. (And these days, that’s literally everyone.)
Why Web Development is Important
If SEO addresses helping people discover your site and encouraging them to click through once they do, then web development covers the kind of user experience they’ll have when they get there.
Without a good, functional approach to web development, it won’t matter how excellent your products and brand are.
If people land on your site and see that it’s slow, disorganized, confusing, or just plain unpleasant to use, they’ll leave and visit one of your competitor’s sites instead.
Web Development vs SEO: How Do They Work Together?
SEO and web development aren’t just equally important.
Many aspects of web development can directly affect a site’s SEO. In fact, SEO is part of building and running a successful website, so it’s important that web developers keep this in mind as they work.
Making sure SEO is a key consideration from the beginning when it comes to web development has many advantages, including the following:
- The site will perform better right from day one.
- Building a site with SEO in mind is easier and more efficient than trying to fix issues after the fact.
- It’s more cost-effective to develop a site for optimization right from the beginning.
Ultimately, the success of your website (and the health of your bottom line) isn’t about web development vs SEO. It’s about using web development and SEO in harmony together.
7 Ways Web Development Can Improve SEO
Now that you fully understand how web development affects SEO, as well as why it’s important to use both together, it’s time to take the next step.
Here’s a closer look at some of the critical ways web development can be used to boost your site’s SEO.
1. Make speed a top priority
Keep in mind that search engines like Google and Bing are in the business of delivering relevant search results that come attached to a quality user experience overall.
Also, consider that according to research, the average person has an attention span that’s two seconds shorter than a goldfish’s.
That means web visitors aren’t going to wait around for a slow website to load. Yours needs to load in a few seconds (absolute max), or all those hard-earned visitors will simply go somewhere else.
You can optimize web speeds by:
- Performing regular speed tests.
- Optimizing your images.
- Minimizing external scripts.
- Avoiding redirects when and where you can.
2. Make security a priority, as well
Another quality both your customers and Google really value is website security.
Failing to make sure your website is appropriately secure will inevitably harm its SERP rankings, as people need to be able to trust the sites they visit and purchase from.
After all, cyberattacks, data theft, and similar issues are genuine concerns these days.
You can help improve and safeguard the security of your website by doing the following:
- Keep your web software up to date at all times. The more out-of-date your website is, the more vulnerable it is to attack.
- Implement security measures like a secure sockets layer (SSL) and web application firewall (WAF).
- Moderate comment spam to keep users from spreading malicious links.
- Regularly scan for malware that could be harming users and damaging SEO.
3. Resolve duplicate content issues
Google crawl bots only spend a limited amount of time on each site they visit. If your site has issues with duplicate content, you risk wasting a visiting crawl bot’s time.
You also run the risk of confusing Google and making it harder to decide which of the duplicate pages should actually rank.
There are lots of different ways web development teams can resolve duplicate content.
These include 301 redirects, using Google Search Console to remove duplicate URLs, and implementing canonical tags.
4. Stay on top of crawl errors
Even well-maintained websites occasionally develop crawl errors, and Google does understand that. But if your site contains certain types of errors (or too many of them in general), it can definitely affect your SEO.
As with site speed, security, and other critical web development vs SEO issues, an excessive number of crawl errors tells Google’s algorithm that your site doesn’t offer a positive user experience.
The more errors there are, the more likely it is that a visitor will hit an error page and become frustrated.
As with duplicate content, there are a few go-to ways web developers can address crawl errors. Use Google Search Console to quickly zero in on problem pages and fix any issues quickly.
However, it’s still a good idea to make yours as accessible as possible, just to be on the safe side.
This method sends signals that are a lot like those generated by standard HTML, ensuring every page gets proper credit for relevancy and authority.
6. Implement a responsive web design
In 2021, mobile devices like smartphones generated an astonishing 54.4 percent of all web traffic.
Those numbers are up from previous years and are expected to continue rising in the years to come.
Web users aren’t just researching purchase decisions in their spare time anymore, either. They’re searching for solutions on the fly, including when they’re already on the move.
That means you can’t afford not to have a mobile-friendly website with a fully responsive design.
Again, this is a factor that drastically affects user experience, so it will also affect your search engine rankings.
7. Make your website as readable as possible
Modern web users rarely sit and thoroughly read through a blog or a piece of web content from start to finish.
They skim in search of the information they need, so the easier you can make it for them to do this (especially on mobile devices), the better.
Keep website designs clean and free of unnecessary clutter to promote fluid readability.
Avoid content that includes huge walls of texts, as well. Instead, use headings and subheadings to organize longer pieces of content into digestible chunks.
White space, graphics, videos, optimal font choices, and more can all affect how easy and enjoyable your content is to process, as well.
Understanding the ways web development vs SEO stack up against one another, as well as how they work together, is a crucial part of any thorough digital marketing approach.
However, quality web content and plenty of it are essential parts of the picture. Content has always been king when it comes to dominating the SERPs and turning brands into true forces to be reckoned with, and this is still the case today.
Check out our comprehensive write-up on how to complement your SEO efforts with a fantastic content strategy.
You’ll learn about the four pillars of SEO, what components make up an incredible strategy, and discover how to take the first steps toward creating a strategy of your own!