We often talk about keywords and linking and the important techniques required to achieve a successful internet marketing campaign. One of the areas I often see overlooked is the web development. With the influx of personal computers, there are so many people offering web design and development at amazingly low costs. I have just done a search for “cheap web development” and found a site offering a website package valued at $150 straight away.

Is there true value in a site that costs $150? Does the creator of such work stay up-to-date with ever-changing functionalities? Is the web developer aware of road blocks that will hinder the business owner’s online success? These are vital questions that should be considered before you think your sub-$1000 website is a bargain. At the end of the day, your site is only the first step in successful online marketing–if the SEO doesn’t work, your website doesn’t work!

Here are a few considerations that are important to your success.

Duplicate Title and Description Tags

There’s obviously the basics of writing good meta tags. You probably know already know how long a meta description should be: less than 144 words. However, there’s another problem cheap sites often have with their tags.

Having duplicated titles and meta descriptions across your site can cause a duplicate content penalty. Out of curiosity, I search the phrase “untitled document,” which is the default title for many html editors, and got 38 million results. Given that some of these may legitimately be articles about the default “untitled document” text, how many are caused by lazy developers?

URL Canonicalization

URL normalization (or URL canonicalization) is the process by which URLs are modified and standardized in a consistent manner. The goal of the normalization process is to transform a URL into a normalized or canonical URL so it is possible to determine if two syntactically different URLs may be equivalent.” Wikipedia

In essence, this means that the following list of URLs are treated as individual pages, even though they all display the exact same content:

http://www.mydomain.com.au

http://mydomain.com.au

http://www.mydomain.com.au/index

http://mydomain.com.au/index

If not treated correctly, the effect of the above URL’s is dilution of your link equity, both for internal and backlinks. A link to http://www.mydomain.com.au is completely different to a link to http://www.mydomain.com.au/index. Learning how to redirect URLs to each other is an essential part of preventing these duplicate problems in the first place.

JavaScript and CSS

Keeping your code as simple as possible is good SEO practice. Because both Javascript and CSS can be accessed from an external file, this is an extremely easy method for reducing “code bloat” and having your pages load faster.

Others Include…

Use of frames
Nested tables
Shared hosting

So next time you’re looking at a new web development project, remember that the phrase “you get what you pay for” can really have an effect on your final outcomes.