How your code affects your SEO

Before you can really start to work on your SEO, you first need to make sure your website’s code is built and ready for it. Why does this matter? Search engine crawlers don’t see the page the way you and I do. They just see the code underneath. And they use that code to correctly…

In order to build your SEO efforts, you first must have a website with a strong SEO foundation. And for that to happen, your website must first have a strong code foundation.

Because SEO relies heavily on search engine crawlers, your website’s code has one of the most important roles in all of SEO. The bots need to be able to read and index your content correctly so that it can be displayed to the right people and get clicked on by people who need to see that information.

If your website’s code isn’t up to snuff, it’s going to be like rowing a boat upstream without a paddle.

So today let’s take a look under the hood of a few code related items that will give your SEO efforts the strong foundation necessary.

What’s code got to do with anything?

Code actually has a lot to do with SEO and page rank.

For starters, search engine crawlers don’t see web pages the same way you or I do. These are bots, so they don’t see the visual representation of the page like we do, or at least they currently don’t. Instead, they use the HTML code to figure out what’s going on on the page.

We’ll talk more about this here in a second, but really your HTML code can help or hinder those crawlers from correctly indexing your pages. If done right, the HTML will tell those crawlers exactly what everything is — from something that’s an article to the title to the text and a whole lot more. And if it’s not done correctly, the crawlers can only guess at the relationships between items.

Also, not to get too developer-heavy in all of this, but the way your CSS and JavaScript is written can affect your page speed, which can also affect your page’s SEO. If your external files are pushing 100 kilobytes because they’re poorly written, that’s going to slow your page down and that’s going to kill the SEO. This also goes for those 1 megabyte photos you keep uploading.

Really, getting a good code foundation for your website is going to give you a very good SEO foundation.

What in the world is schema?

As I mentioned earlier, search engine crawlers can’t see web pages the same way we do. So they rely on HTML and the HTML attributes inside of that to figure out what’s going on on the page and what the relationships are.

One very common way they do this is through schema. According to SEMRush, Schema “is a structured data vocabulary that defines entities, actions, and relationships on the internet”. In short, it offers up a description of what different elements are and their relationship to each other.

There are a number of different types of schemas out there from blog posts to images to video to even recipes. I highly recommend checking out Schema dot org to look through all of them and how they are created in code.

As an example, if we have a blog post, our main article wrapper will contain this HTML attribute. The title will have an itemprop attribute with a value of title. And then the wrapper div around the text will have an itemprop attribute with a value of text. If this all sounds and looks weird to you, then I highly recommend getting a developer to help you out.

As a side note, if you use WordPress and have an SEO plugin, like Yoast, it’s probably doing a lot of this for you.

There’s a whole world of Schema out there that I’m just barely touching for now. But I’ve linked to a few very helpful articles in the description below to help get you started with this.

Page speed does matter

Page speed absolutely matters in today’s world. If your website doesn’t load quickly, especially on mobile, people are going to leave your website.

And search engines, especially Google, take that into account. How much really it’s taken into account really changes day-to-day, but really it’s a good idea to make sure your page is loading as quick as it can.

One great tool you can use for this is Google PageSpeed Insights. This will give your website a score for how quickly it loads on desktops and mobile devices. I wouldn’t worry about the exact numerical score it gives you, since that can be very fickle. Instead, I look to see if the page is in the yellow and hopefully the green. And I also look for the tips it gives you below the score to make changes and improve that score. That’s really where you’re going to be able to learn about and fix your problems.

But definitely make sure your pages are loading as quickly you can get them to.

Check with a developer

Because a lot of this requires dipping into the code, it probably worth it to go out and find a developer to help you with it. They’ll know exactly what to look for for the different SEO problems that you might have on your website. And because of their experience, they’ll know how to fix these problems without taking down your website. That will save you money and headaches in the long run. If you really really want to make sure that your website’s SEO code is up to par, I really highly recommend that you find a developer for this job.

Up next?

So that’s basically it for SEO and your website’s code. As I mentioned last time, this series is basically an introductory course to the different aspects of SEO so you can dive deeper on your own into them to figure out how they can help you and your website and your business. I’ve left some links down in the description below over SEO and website code to help you get started with today’s video. And if you have access to LinkedIn Learning, I’ve linked to a couple of really good courses on SEO.

As always if you have questions about SEO, feel free to leave them down in comments below or you can reach out on social media.

Next time we’ll be talking about keyword research. But until then, I wish you and your business the best of luck!

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