Technical Decisions to consider when creating a new site
Whether you’re lucky enough to be working with a new site, or facing the challenges of resurrecting an old one (or trying to fix a new one!) You need to research the desired site architecture (from an SEO perspective) it’s easier to divide it into technology and structural decisions.
**Do This! Do not ignore this! Trust me!**
First of all ask questions and understand as deeply as possible what sort of CMS the developer is using. Some don’t allow you to write customised titles and meta descriptions at all, while some create hundreds (or thousands) or pages of duplicate content (which can be catastrophic for SEO)
The technology choices you make at the beginning can honestly have a major impact on your SEO efforts and if you don’t understand what you should be asking or the answer the web developers have given you please contact me and I’ll be happy to help.
It’s going to get a bit technical here but I’ve done my best to make it easy to understand. These are the most important technical issues you need to understand.
Dynamic URL’s are URL’s which are generated when a user makes a search on your site, generated in real time. Your site may also have a static URL for the same search which is valuable for being able to control your URL structure for brevity, descriptiveness, user friendliness and easy of sharing.
- eg wedding-bands/glasgow = static url
- wedding-bands/glas/?3547483 = dynamic url
Although Google states that it is not a problem if the search engines crawl dynamic urls, my advice is, for whatever reason the website is not built correctly (happens many times) google will start indexing the dynamically generated pages creating more confusion and a loss in ranking. Ideally, don’t have dynamic pages or, at the very least ask your developer to ensure that they are not indexed.
Also, make sure that you male proper use of the rel=”canonical” which is basically to tell Google if there are a few pages on the site which could potentially be seen as similar “this is the most important one”. Google’s technical explanation of how to use the canonical tag
Don’t have extra characters present in the URL
Some content management systems create superfluous parameters or session id’s at the end of the URL in order to track visitors. These put very simply totally confuse the search engines so don’t do it! They will think you have many pages of the same content and will all compete against each other to rank.
Links or content based in Flash
Links and content implemented with Flash technology cannot be read by search engines. Links and content should be expressed in simple HTML text. You should also be aware of Flash’s limitations.
Content behind forms
Many lead generation sites will ask for a visitors details before exposing content to them. Although this is a great way to generate leads, and perfect for adwords landing pages, it is not ideal for SEO at all! Don’t do it unless you make a conscious effort that you want to hide this content.
Temporary 302 Re-Directs
If you are re-directing pages from an old site to a new one, it is imperative that you understand the correct sort of re-direct to use.
302 – Is a temporary re-direct and blocks the passing of page rank. – Do not use if at all possible. If you’re not sure yet where you wan the page to re-direct to, take the time to find out! The 302 re-direct blocks a search engine from recognising that you have permanently moved the content.
301 – Is a permanent re-direct
Make sure the default re-direct your systems use is a 301, or learn how to configure it so that it becomes the default.
Very important points (not to be taken personally by aforesaid professionals, these are simply just facts which is why I’m here 🙂
- Most CMS vendors do not understand or address SEO issues.
- Do you really need a ‘custom’ CMS?
- Most web developers don’t understand SEO implications of what they develop
- Learning about SEO is not a requirement to get a software engineering degree or to become a web developer.
It will be up to you to educate your team members and directors as early as possible about the issues above in the development process.