As we move into 2015 we have a responsibility as SEOs to positively shape the outcome of any Web development project we’re a part of. That means providing answers to questions posed by stakeholders and the developers about the current state of search. It’s critical that we do everything we can to ensure sites in 2015 are built according to proper technical SEO standards, that the site is set up to drive traffic, and that site performance can be measured.
Here are four questions you need to be prepared to answer for your Web development team in 2015.
What Are the Basics of Mobile-Friendly SEO?
Designers have been preaching the importance of mobile-friendly websites for a long time, so you shouldn’t have to convince anyone that mobile-friendly from a search perspective is a good idea. But it’s not just about creating an aesthetically pleasing mobile site, however - you need to build a site that has a quick load time, proper technical setup (such as mobile sitemaps), and fits a number of other criteria in order to stay in compliance with Google’s mobile-friendly standards.
Your development team has enough they need to learn on their own; it’s your job to help them stay ahead of mobile trends in 2015. Google has tipped its hand regarding the importance of mobile UX, and it is only going to become smarter about how it rewards mobile-friendly sites for providing a better user experience. Your business’ goals are going to change as users become even more mobile. Stay one step ahead by understanding what your team needs to do to ensure it’s prepared.
That might mean educating yourself on new technology or updates as soon as they come out or learning more about app indexing if you don’t have experience in that area.
What Should We Do About Local Search?
With the Pigeon algorithm rolling out in July of this year, you know there is more to come for local search in 2015.
Local business websites can always be tricky, but your developers need to ensure that your businesses name, address, and phone number (NAP) appear in in HTML on your site so they can be crawled by Google. If you rely on local business and have a storefront, include NAP information in your business’ header and footer. You should also encourage developers to become familiar with setting up local business schema data, which can help your site provide better information, such as hours of operation and reviews, to search engines and users in search results.
Local search is tricky, but after years of making it tough on the little guy, Google is making moves that will benefit smaller, local businesses in SERPs, so take advantage of that and properly set up your site from an SEO perspective so you reap the benefits of the additional changes that are sure to come in 2015.
Local SEO will continue to be a major challenge, so it's vital that your development team builds a solid SEO foundation for any new website.
Should This Site Use HTTPS?
2014 was the year of the data breach, so you can bet that many websites will continue the switch to HTTPS in 2015. Providing users with a secure connection may not seem important for every page on your site, but adding HTTPS as a ranking signal is merely Google’s latest step in security for its users.
Sure, studies so far seem to show that HTTPS has not impacted rankings for sites, but this isn’t something that Google is going to backpedal on. You should keep yourself educated about Google’s perspective on HTTPS to be sure you’re helping your development team make an informed decision about whether or not a particular site should use HTTPS.
Though HTTPS should only minimally impact page load times, your development team will have to balance security needs against image compression to ensure Google doesn’t penalize your site for slow load times.
How Will We Track Results?
Hopefully you’ve answered this question in 2014, but the nuances of your response should continue to evolve in the coming year. It’s becoming critically important that sites are set up properly to track user behavior and conversions – if they aren’t, how do we know what we’ve built is working?
Your developers should absolutely know how to insert Google Analytics tracking code, but you should also emphasize the value of having a working knowledge of testing tools like Visual Website Optimizer so they can identify CTAs, forms, or other elements of a site that should be tested.
With Google Tag Manager knowledge, developers can set up tracking for things like page scroll depth and login errors – interesting indicators of a site’s performance from a design and development perspective. In general, a proactive approach to measurement and tracking is best in 2015. For example, if you know that the business you are building a site for will be utilize Google AdWords, be sure that call-tracking code is set up properly.
Marketers may be responsible for a website’s performance after it’s built, but it takes proper setup from the beginning to ensure we’ll get the data we need to make educated decisions about future iterations to a site.