1. Ensure URLs are meaningful & user-friendly
Page URLs, also known as the web page address, must be kept short.
Words in the URL should be separated by a hyphen. Unnecessary words and conjunctions should be subtracted.
Ensure that the top level domain part of URLs are always consistent.
2. Add canonical tags to all pages
The canonical tag tells Google how to display the URL of any given page in search engine results pages (SERPs).
For example, the canonical URL can be quickly added inside WordPress page or post settings:
And that page looks like this in the search results:
I could get rid of the www from the canonical if I wanted:
Which would instead look like this in the search results:
3. Add any 301 redirects
If a website is being redesigned, there’s a good chance the individual page addresses of the new website will be different.
In this case 301 redirects makes old addresses forward to the new addresses. This is important if some of your “old” website pages are still indexed in Google and need to point to the new site.
There’s another reason to use 301 redirects.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to give your customers an easy-to-remember link.
For example, the following (long) link points to a specific Google webpage for reading or writing Ilkeston Web Design reviews:
That’s too long though, so I set up a shorter URL which redirects to that long link. Here it is:
A short link can point to anything you want, not just Google reviews, as shown in the video below:
4. Cross-browser optimisation
The site needs to look the same across all browsers. There’s quite a few to take into account but the popular ones are Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari and Opera.
Internet Explorer is the worst and web designers hate it! Thankfully fewer people use it today but you cannot totally ignore it.
5. Create custom 404 error page
Do you know what a broken link is? It refers to someone clicking a link on a website, expecting to load a particular page, but alas! the page has either been removed or has had the URL changed.
What you want for these situations is a so-called 404 page.
This is a page telling the website visitor what has happened and offering a solution to the problem.
Here’s my 404 page:
6. Check that visitors receive confirmation after every action
Whether it’s sending an email using a contact form or subscribing to an email subscription list, the website always needs to tell the visitor if they were successful.
This is particularly important for eCommerce sites, where there should be instructions and comments before and after tasks.
When an email is sent, for example, either a little note with a personal message should appear (“thanks for emailing us, we’ll be in touch”) or a new page should load with the same or a similar message.
7. CSS validation & optimisation
CSS is the code used to make things look the way they look on the site. This code can be condensed (minified) so it loads faster.
The minified code runs all on one single line as opposed to their being line breaks for each statement of code.
8. Optimize image format, dimensions & file size
At this stage, images may need to be tweaked to improve load speed. Images that are too big in their dimensions will add unnecessary loading time.
What tends to happen is that someone will add a new image to their website without using something like Photoshop to resize it first.
A massive picture can be resized on the site using HTML, but that doesn’t take away the fact that the photo/graphic could be, say, 5 or 6 MB. Too big!
Then there’s the image format.
A PNG can have a transparent background, which is handy if you want to experiment using different background colours on the website. A JPEG just has a solid colour background, which means you’re stuck with it.
The video below visually demonstrates the significance of what I’m talking about: