SEO tips for developers

Author: Jacob Gardner-Shortall - Junior Developer

Date: 24 February 2023

The relationship between web development and SEO is growing ever more intertwined. As a developer, if you’re not optimising your code for higher rankings, your business could be missing out.

Long gone are the days of keyword stuffing a page and hoping for the best, and while you can still leave a lot of the work up to the SEO experts, developers must play a more active role in the creation of search engine friendly pages. Let’s walk through a few of the things that you can start doing as a programmer to get your content in front of the right people.

Write Semantic HTML

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HTML has come a long way over the years, and one of the key features of modern HTML from an SEO perspective is writing more semantic markup. This means using tags that better define your content than a standard <div> tag. For example, instead of using <div id=”summary”>, you could use the <summary> tag. This is just one example out of roughly 100 dedicated semantic elements that you can use. 

These elements make the code more comprehensible by clearly defining purposeful sections of the page. This allows search engines to better interpret the content and find meaningful blocks of code. This can also be a help to screen readers assisting visually impaired users navigate a page. This type of web accessibility improves your SEO, too.

Markup Structure

We’ve already talked about writing semantic HTML, but there’s another way in which your markup can affect site rankings, and that’s how you structure it using headings. Heading tags range from H1-H6. 

These heading tags help denote the importance of the following content. For example, H1 tags are used to highlight the most important part of text on your page, or used as a title for the page. H2 and H3 tags are often used to represent subheadings of sections, whereas the H4-H6 tags are commonly used to break up those sections further and provide more structure within them. 

This technique isn’t only important for users visually, but makes it easier for search engines to better interpret the hierarchy of meaning on the page. 

Include a Sitemap

A sitemap is there to list your most important pages on your site for search engines and spiders to discover them. It acts almost as a roadmap for your website. This can be useful for both large and small websites, and can be implemented with relative ease.

There are a couple of different types of sitemaps: HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps. HTML sitemaps are intended for humans, and generally provide links to the pages in your site, maybe with some descriptions, too. These exist to make it easier for users to navigate your site, almost like a table of contents. XML sitemaps, however, are there to inform search engines of the existence of the pages on your site. It’s like a roadmap for your website to make sure all of your important pages are being discovered by search engines. This is the type of sitemap that could have an impact on your SEO rankings.

Load Times

Search engines know that people hate waiting. That’s why Google introduced Core Web Vitals (CWV). CWVs are metrics used to measure page performance and load times to give you an idea of how users experience your site. 

These CWVs consist of 3 main metrics: 

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
  • First Input Delay (FID)

Find out exactly what each of these are here. In the next section, we’ll look at some tools to help you measure these Web Vitals.

Use the Right Tools

As we’ve already discussed, Core Web Vitals play an important role in technical SEO, but how do you actually measure them? There are a few tools that are going to help you out here. Two key players are Lighthouse and Search Console. Both are owned by Google. 

Lighthouse is a tool that you can add to your browser, or just use within Chrome Developer Tools if you’re already using Google Chrome. This will take a given URL, run a series of audits on it, and provide you with a custom, scored report. These scores help you assess your CWVs, and much more!

Search Console is another powerful weapon in any developer’s arsenal. It helps you catch and resolve common (or not-so-common) errors, monitor web traffic, optimise rankings, spot security issues, and much more. This information can be used to help you make important technical decisions. 

Mobile/Accessible Design

Designing for all users and screens is more important than ever. With the majority of web traffic coming from mobile devices, you can’t afford to ignore responsive design. Not only does this provide a negative experience, but it hurts your rankings as well.

Mobile-first design is a common development practice that aims to provide better user experience by starting the design process with the smallest screens in mind. With less screen real estate, this means you must prioritise the most important parts of your site.

Structured Data

Structured data is used to better communicate the content of your site to search engines. It can come in several formats and essentially consists of organised groups and tags that search engines can read to discover valuable information about the page. Helping the search engine is going to help you! 

Earlier, we mentioned Google Search Console and its ability to monitor and optimise your rankings, and it can be used to assess and offer suggestions to improve your structured data, too. We’d recommend reading into how you can implement this on your site here.

Hopefully we’ve been able to show you the benefits of optimising your SEO as a developer. If you have any questions, or are looking at starting a digital project, get in touch with us here at and we’d be pleased to help. 

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