Opportunities For Using Web Development To Improve SEO

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How can you use web development to improve SEO performance? Dr Dave Chaffey reveals all.

In a recent blog article, Jade Coleman, our head of SEO shared some of the all-too-common Web Development 'Fails' that affect SEO performance. Anyone who has worked in digital marketing for a while will have seen some of these repeated on different projects or with different clients.

Certainly, many of them resonated with me; I can see why Jade started with the problem of duplicate heading tags for common page elements leading to dilution of the theme of the page. I have seen this so many times, when auditing sites, still do.

In this article, I'll take a look at some of the opportunities given to us by Web Dev in 2018.

Google has always been obsessed with speed. Always has been. Still is. Always will be. You might think that with the widespread adoption of broadband and 4G some of the pressure would be easing off, but far from it. In a recent article on the ClickThrough blog, I highlighted some new research from Google on page serving speeds which shows that for different industry sectors, across Europe, the average page download speed is in the range 8 to 10 seconds, despite user research showing that pages that take this long to download are less likely to convert than those which are sub 3 second (53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load).

In that article I explained the growing importance of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) using this quote from David Besbris, who is the VP of Google Search, and also the AMP Project Lead, to show the growing adoption of AMP pages.

In two years, we’ve seen the project grow from a few launch partners to over 25 million website domains that have published more than 4 billion AMP pages. And not only has the number of pages built with AMP grown, their speed has too. The median time it takes an AMP page to load from Google search is less than half a second.

When AMP were first introduced they were aimed at publishers, but many other sectors are using them now, including retail. So this is an opportunity to learn whether your content management system supports different plug-ins for AMPs and to see which advanced and interactive AMP features may need to be designed, for example carousels or email sign-up features.

AMP also integrates with Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), which provide an alternative to native Android or iOS mobile apps which Google are pushing hard... and we've seen some interesting ecommerce PWAs released, despite support from Apple lagging.

The growing consumer adoption of the intelligent home assistants from the likes of Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google has put the spotlight back on voice activated search. Some are suggesting that 50% of searches will be voice activated by 2020, which seems quite close now we're in 2018.

Personally, I think it will take a little longer to reach 50% since the oft quoted ComScore source is spurious. However, Google reports that in its Android app more than 20% of searches are voice-based. Still, it's likely we'll be well into double figures and with voice activated searches, its natural that site visitors will expect similar ways of interacting when they reach their destination sites.

Chatbots and other forms of conversational user interfaces are another way that devs can support this consumer trend.

Apart from these more innovative techniques, developers also have opportunities to support SEO by reviewing how sites are architected. The way in which sites are structured around different themes (sometimes known as SEO Siloing) remain an important way to gain competitive advantage.

At an individual page level using Schema.org markup appropriate for different sectors, e.g. reviews, is another technique that requires developer input.

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