Search Engine Optimization (SEO), an industry in and of itself, can make a break a company’s internet presence - particularly important in a time where so many companies get all their business through the internet.

An increasingly important role of the front-end engineer is to focus on performance, and to similarly increasing support of management, as they realize it’s importance, particularly in SEO.

SEO is made especially tricky because… the rules are always changing. I took a site up to the #2 spot on a crowded keyword essentially through a healthy linking network. That’s not going to cut it any more.

Currently, a lot of it focuses around performance and unique content. With Google’s recent addition of rending Javascript on pages, the game done changed.

Here’s a condensed version of several tips gathered over time:

Performance

Pages should load quickly. Especially to be mobile friendly.

Time to First Byte

Arguably more important than page load speed and page render time, the first byte should be received by the requester quickly. This means limiting DNS lookups and redirects, quick certificate exchange, and minimal latency.

Page load speed : Measuring

There are several tools you can use in assessing ways to cut your page load time, including:

Page load speed : Improving

  • Minimize size + number of resources
    • concatenate files
    • minify files
    • limit number of resources from one domain
    • use CDNs
    • minify cookie sizes
  • Server Optimizations
    • Use compression (e.g. gzip)
    • Enable Caching (expires header for static content, and cache-control headers for dynamic)
    • use GETs instead of POSTs (fewer TCP packets)
  • DOM
    • avoid unnecessary elements
  • Images
    • optimize images
    • use standard image formats
    • avoid text graphics

Responsive + Mobile Friendly

Use responsive images (like the picture tag once it’s approved). Keep your files small. Show mobile love. Avoid intensive processing.

Search Engine Friendliness

Choose good keywords

Most people likely will find your site through Google. You want your page to rank highly.

Choose keywords with high search volume and low competition to get high conversions. This often includes more specific search phrases.

Use the Google Adwords tool to aid your search for good keywords.

Metadata

Using title and meta tags make your search results more user-friendly on Google. Google cares about them partially for this reason, partially for more semantic purposes.

Title tags should:

  • be relevant
  • be unique to each page
  • be short-ish (<70 characters)
  • not duplicate other metadata
  • not keyword-stuff
  • include a keyword phrase
  • perhaps include a call to action

Descriptions should:

  • be relevant
  • be unique to each page
  • reflect searcher’s intent
  • not exceed 155 characters
  • not duplicate other meta content
  • sell benefits of site, not features

URL naming

URL naming is easy to set up and should follow simple guidelines:

  • descriptive URLs
  • use keywords
  • include keywords at the beginning
  • avoid short words
  • avoid repetition
  • avoid capitals
  • use hyphens, not underscores

Indexing Best Practices

And a smattering of other little rules:

  • avoid duplicate content (add a noindex rule to your header if necessary)
  • have a robots.txt file
  • have a site map
  • be accessible
  • use semantic markup
  • no above-the-fold ads
  • avoid broken links
  • content should be well-written
  • content should be of reasonable length
  • be wary of subdomains