10 SEO Fundamentals Every Web Developer Should Know

Understanding the fundamentals of SEO can go a long way toward achieving successful collaboration and SEO performance. As a developer you only need to take care of these four or five tickets, and it will make a huge difference in your monthly SEO goals.

But how do you persuade your web developers to join you? How can you help them understand the importance of your SEO needs when they have so many competing priorities?

I could do about 90% of my SEO work for a given client myself
fifteen years ago. 
Those were the days. SEO now relies on content creation, UX, code development, IT, and multiple layers/levels of approvals, among other things.

SEO can’t be done in a vacuum, and I’m glad it’s a discipline
that now prioritizes alignment in order to provide a quality experience for
website visitors.

There has always been a need for web developer support
throughout my career.

That meant going down the hall at my agency or collaborating
with a third-party developer hired or contracted by my clients.

In either case, getting web development buy-in and support is
critical for SEO. 
It’s even better when developers understand SEO principles.

It is far more efficient if developers understand the fundamentals
and incorporate them into their builds and site maintenance, avoiding any
rework later.

Check out the ten must-know SEO basics for web developers.

1. Security

Search engines care about website security. Check that you have an SSL installed and that there are no errors. That is where we begin. In addition, have the necessary safeguards in place to ensure that the site is free of vulnerabilities that could allow for an injection, manipulated content, and so on. Hacking at any level degrades user experience and sends out negative signals to users and search engines. When securing the site with plugins, extensions, or tools, keep site speed in mind. 

2. Response Codes

Server response codes are important. There are frequently ways to get a page to render for a user, as well as unique UX designs, which prompt some creative dev implementations.

Regardless, ensure that pages are displaying 200 server codes. Any 3xx or 4xx codes can be sourced and updated. Remove any redirects you don’t need. 

3. Redirects

Redirects are an important part of the website migration and launch process when moving from an old site to a new one. If you don’t do anything else in your launch process, at least implement redirects.

We’re talking about ensuring that all URLs from the old site redirect to the most relevant subject matter page on the new site via a 301 redirect. If you are streamlining and updating content structure, this could be one to one or many to one.

As with the server codes mentioned above, don’t trust a page’s rendering and assume it’s fine. Use tools to ensure that all redirects are 301s.

4. Robots.txt

Nothing matters in SEO unless the site can be indexed and displayed in search results. Don’t let the robots.txt file fall by the wayside.

Default commands can be too open in some cases and too restrictive in others. Understand what’s in the robots.txt file. Do not send the staging file to production without first double-checking it.

Several sites with excellent migration and launch plans have been thwarted by a disallow all command from staging that was pushed to the live site (to prevent the dev site from being indexed).

Consider blocking low-value items such as tag pages, comments pages, and any other variations generated by your CMS.

You’ll usually have to consider a lot of low-value junk, and if you can’t stop the pages from generating, at least stop indexing them.

5. Sitemaps

XML sitemaps are our opportunity to ensure that search engines are aware of all of our pages. Don’t squander resources and opportunities by allowing images, insignificant pages, and items that should not be prioritized for focus and indexing.

Make certain that all pages listed in XML sitemaps return a 200 server code.

Maintain them by removing 404s, redirects, and anything that isn’t the destination page.

6. URLs

Good URLs are short, include words relevant to the page’s content, are in lower case, and contain no characters, spaces, or underscores.

I enjoy seeing URL structures with subfolders and pages that correspond to the content hierarchy in the navigation and site structure.

Three steps down? After that, type “example.com/level-1/level-2/topical-page.”

7. Mobile Compatibility

Remember that just because something works or looks good in a browser does not necessarily mean it is suitable for a search engine.

Search engines value mobile friendliness. Use Google’s mobile-friendly tool to validate it. Make certain it passes. Consider the content rendered in the mobile version as well. Google indexes “mobile first.” This indicates that they are viewing the site’s mobile version.

If you’re hiding or not rendering important content in the mobile version that you want search engines to consider for UX considerations, think twice and be aware that the content may be missing from what Google sees.

8. Site Speed

This is the eighth item on the list, but it is possibly the most important after ensuring that your site can be indexed.

Site speed is of great significance. Slow page loads and sites harm user experience and conversion rates. They have an effect on SEO performance as well. There is no single method for optimizing site speed.

It all comes down to keeping your code light, using plugins and extensions sparingly, having an optimized hosting environment, compressing and minifying JS and CSS, and keeping image sizes under control. Any code, files, or aspects that can cause performance or stability shifts pose a risk.

Include any safeguards for content management controls so that a 10MB image cannot be uploaded and cause a page to crash. Or a plugin update goes undetected because of how it slows things down.

Baseline, monitor, and improve site speed on an ongoing basis.

Consider tool like Lighthouse in the Google Chrome browser dev tools or web.dev 

9. Heading Tags

Heading tags provide excellent context clues to search engines. Remember that they are for content, not CSS shortcuts. Yes, link your CSS to them, but do so in the order of importance.

Don’t use H5 for the first, largest page heading and H1 for page subheadings.

Just be as literal as possible with the hierarchy and how it’s used. Use them instead of other CSS where possible.

If possible, limit the number of H1s on a page to one. Work with your SEO resources to understand the overall strategy for headings and on-page content. 

10. Dynamic Content and Content Management

CMS functionality can derail even the best dev implementations. Take care with the power you grant. 

Understand the site’s ongoing content plan and requirements so that content creators have the control they desire while not jeopardizing site speed or any of the SEO on-page elements.

Having as many dynamic aspects as possible, such as tagging, XML sitemap generation, redirects, and more, can save you time while also protecting your site and code and keeping everything stable.


The interaction and collaboration of SEO professionals and web developers is critical.

SEO is based on best practices for technical SEO as well as other factors such as enterprise scaling of on-page items.

Understanding the fundamentals of SEO can go a long way toward successful collaboration and SEO performance.

Furthermore, it can lead to more efficient website development work and fewer re-work or “SEO-specific” updates and requests.

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