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10 Must-Know SEO Basics For Web Developers

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10 Must-Know SEO Basics For Web Developers

You know the struggle… you just need these four or five tickets taken care of and it would mean so much to your SEO goals for the month.

But how do you get your web developers on board?

How can you help them understand the urgency of your SEO needs when they have so many other competing priorities on their plate?

Fifteen years ago, I could do about 90% of my SEO work for a given client myself.

Those days are gone. SEO now relies on content creation, UX, code development, IT, various layers/levels of approvals, and more.

I have written many times about how SEO can’t be done in a silo and am happy it’s a discipline that now focuses more on alignment for creating a quality experience for website visitors.

Over my career, there has always been a need for the support of web developers.

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That meant going down the hall in my agency or working with a third-party developer contracted or employed by my clients.

In either case, getting buy-in and support from web development is critical for SEO.

Even better is when developers have an understanding of SEO principles.

It is much more efficient if developers know the basics and factor them into their builds and site maintenance, avoiding any re-work later.

Check out the 10 must-know SEO basics for web developers and some focus group discussions with my teams of SEO specialists and developers as well.

1. Security

Website security matters to the search engines.

Make sure you have an SSL in place and without any errors.

That’s the starting point.

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Beyond that, have the necessary safeguards to ensure the site has no vulnerabilities that allow for an injection, manipulated content, etc.

Getting hacked at any level hurts user experience and trust signals for users and search engines.

However, be mindful of site speed (more to come on that) when you secure the site with any plugins, extensions, or tools.

2. Response Codes

Server response codes matter.

Often there are ways to get a page to render for a user and unique UX designs that prompt some creative dev implementations.

Regardless, make sure pages are rendering 200 server codes.

Source and update any 3xx or 4xx codes. If you don’t need redirects, remove them.

3. Redirects

Speaking of redirects, they are a critical part of the website migration and launch process coming from an old site to a new one.

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If you don’t do anything else in your launch process, at least implement redirects.

We’re talking about making sure all URLs from the old site have a 301 redirect to the most relevant subject matter page on the new site.

This could be 1:1 old site to new site pages or many to one if you are streamlining and updating content structure.

Like with server codes above, don’t trust a page is rendering and assume it is ok.

Use tools to validate that redirects are 301s.

4. Robots.txt

Nothing matters in SEO if the site can’t get indexed and shown in search results.

Don’t let the robots.txt file be an afterthought.

Sometimes default commands are too open and, in other cases, too restrictive.

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Know what’s in the robots.txt.

Don’t blindly push the staging file to production without checking it.

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

Also, consider blocking low-value items like tag pages, comments pages, and any other variations your CMS creates

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

5. Sitemaps

XML sitemaps are our chance to ensure the search engines know about all of our pages.

Don’t waste resources and opportunities letting images, insignificant pages, and things that shouldn’t be prioritized for focus and indexing.

Ensure all pages listed in XML sitemaps render a 200 server code.

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Keep them clean and free of 404s, redirects, and anything that isn’t the destination page.

6. URLs

Good URLs are concise, include words relevant to the page’s subject matter, are lower case, and have no characters, spaces, or underscores.

I love to see a URL structure of sub-folder and pages that match the content hierarchy in the navigation and site structure.

Three levels down?

Then “example.com/level-1/level-2/topical-page.”

7. Mobile Friendly

Again, remember that just because something works or looks good in a browser doesn’t mean it is ideal for a search engine.

Mobile-friendliness is important to search.

Validate it with Google’s mobile-friendly tool.

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Make sure it passes.

Beyond that, think about the content rendered in the mobile version.

Google uses “mobile first” indexing.

That means they are looking at the mobile version of the site.

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

8. Site Speed

This is number eight on the list but possibly the most important after ensuring your site can be indexed.

Site speed is important.

Slow page loads and sites hurt UX and conversion rates.

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They also have an impact on SEO performance.

There’s not a single set of ways to optimize site speed.

It really comes down to keeping your code light, being judicious in using plugins or extensions, having an optimized hosting environment, compressing and minifying JS and CSS, and keeping image sizes under control.

Any code, files, and aspects that can cause shifts in performance or instability are a risk.

Build in any safeguards for content management controls so a 10MB image can’t be uploaded and tank a page. Or a plugin update goes undetected in how it slows down things.

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

My Lead Developer’s favorite tool is web.dev or Lighthouse in the Google Chrome browser dev tools.

9. Heading Tags

Heading tags are great context clues for search engines.

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Keep in mind they are for content and not CSS shortcuts.

Yes, tie your CSS to them, but keep them in order of importance.

Don’t have the first, biggest page heading as an H5 and subheadings on a page as H1s.

There’s plenty of commentary on the impact (or not) of headings on SEO performance.

I’m not going there in this article.

Just be as literal as you can in the hierarchy and how they’re used.

Use them where you can instead of other CSS.

Have just one H1 on a page if you can.

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Work with your SEO resources to understand the plan for headings and on-page content overall.

10. Content Management & Dynamic Content

As noted above, CMS functionality can wreck the best dev implementations.

Be smart about the control you give.

Understand the site’s ongoing content plan and needs so content creators have the control they want and need but can’t wreck site speed or any of the SEO on-page elements.

Having as many dynamic aspects like tagging, XML sitemap generation, redirects, and more can save you time and safeguard your site and code to keep everything stable.

Conclusion

The intersection and collaboration between SEO professionals and web developers are important.

SEO relies on best practices for technical SEO and other things like enterprise scaling of on-page items.

Developers understanding SEO basics can go a long way toward successful collaboration and SEO performance.

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Plus, it can make for more efficient website development work and the need for less re-work or “SEO-specific” updates and requests.

More resources: 


Featured Image: baranq/Shutterstock

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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers

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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers

The number of online surveys has risen dramatically in the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center.

From short social media polls to lengthy feedback forms, it’s never been easier to survey your target audience and find out what exactly they’re thinking.

When it comes to free survey makers, you have plenty of options to choose from.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is you have to wade through your options to figure out the best survey tool for you.

In this article, I’ve done that dirty work for you.

Below I outline the top six free survey makers, with a simple bulleted list of their pros and cons, so you can quickly select the best one for your needs.

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But first up, the caveats.

What You’re Missing With Free Survey Makers

When something’s free, there’s usually a catch. The same goes for free survey makers.

Free survey tools, or the free plan offered by a paid survey tool, often come with the following limitations:

  • Limited export options. You may not be able to export your survey data for review in Excel or Google Sheets. There may be a PDF-only export option or no export ability at all.
  • Limited analytics. Free survey tools often skimp on the analytics. You may be left to your own pivot tables and Excel expertise if you want to create anything fancy from your survey data.
  • Limited survey functionality. This runs the gamut, from a limit on how many respondents or questions you can have per survey, to only allowing so many question types (e.g., multiple-choice, long-form, etc.).
  • Limited extra perks. By perks, I mean those other features that make software from good to great. With survey makers, that might mean easy-to-access support, the ability to embed surveys in email or webpages, multiple user accounts, or integration with other email marketing or CRM software.
  • No branding. Free survey makers give you their tools for free. In return, you provide them with free brand awareness. Don’t expect to be able to swap out their logo for your own. You’ll probably be stuck with their branding, along with a prominent link to their site throughout the survey or on the thank you page (or both).

If any of the above is a dealbreaker for you, you should plan to drop a little dough on a paid survey tool. That’s why I’ve also included the starting price for all six of the tools featured below.

In case you end up having to upgrade later, it’s easier to do so from a tool you’re already familiar with.

Top 6 Free Survey Tools

Without further ado, I present the best free survey makers you’ll find today. These are listed in no particular order.

1. Google Forms

Screenshot by author, June 2022

Do you live and die by your Google Drive?

Great news: Google also offers free survey software via Google Forms.

Alright, I know I just said these were presented in no particular order, but I’ll openly admit Google Forms is my personal favorite. Just look at all of the features they include in their free plan!

All you need is a free Google account to get started.

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Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Export to Google Sheets.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Ability to embed images and YouTube videos.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website and share to social media.
  • Survey analytics, updated in real-time.
  • Integration with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides.
  • Unlimited collaborators.
  • Customizable survey templates.
  • Free branding.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Enhanced security and collaboration options.
  • Integration with your existing Google Workplace account.

Price: Completely free. Google Workplace pricing starts at $6 per user per month.

Best for: Anyone and everyone, for business or casual use.

2. SurveyMonkey

surveymonkeyScreenshot by author, June 2022

SurveyMonkey is the online survey tool. Established in 1999, it’s still the most well-known online survey software.

Despite the limitations of its free plans, SurveyMonkey continues to be popular thanks to its intuitive interface and brand recognition. Notable clients include Allbirds, Tweezerman, and Adobe.

One nice perk is that you can test out any of the paid features with your free plan. (You just won’t be able to actually use it in your live survey until you pay up.)

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions.
  • 15 question types.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Over 250 customizable survey templates.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Mobile app.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions, question types, and responses.
  • Data exports – this is a biggie!
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Advanced security (single sign-on, HIPAA compliance).
  • A/B testing.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $16 per month for individuals, $25 for teams.

Best for: Those who want a tried-and-true survey maker with all the features you could ask for.

3. Typeform

typeformScreenshot by author, June 2022

Many online survey tools are designed for the general public.

Readers of Search Engine Journal will be happy to hear that there’s a survey tool created just for us. Typeform was built specifically with marketers, UX researchers, and business owners like us in mind.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

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  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 10 responses per month.
  • Basic question types.
  • Basic reporting and analytics
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Integrations with MailChimp, HubSpot, Trello, Google Sheets, Zapier, and more.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Custom thank you screen.
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Ability to accept payment.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Integration with Facebook pixel and Google Tag Manager.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users, UX researchers, and marketers hoping to track customer behavior.

4. Zoho Survey

zoho surveyScreenshot by author, June 2022

Zoho Survey is part of the same Zoho suite of apps that caters to sales, HR, IT, finance, and virtually any kind of business user you can think of.

Given their tenure creating SaaS software for business, their survey tool is just as robust as you might expect. Customers include big names like Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, and Change.org.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website, or share to social media.
  • Export to PDF.
  • 250 survey templates.
  • Password protection and HTTPS encryption.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Ability to export to XLS or CSV.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Team collaboration.
  • Real-time responses.
  • Multilingual surveys.
  • Integration with Google Sheets, Tableau, Shopify, Zendesk, Eventbrite, and others.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $25 per month.

Best for: Zoho users, or anyone who needs an extra level of security for their surveys.

5. Alchemer

alchemer survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

Alchemer is an advanced survey maker developed for the enterprise client.

Paid features include custom coding so you can customize every single element of your survey, from the survey URL to the form logic.

They stand out among free survey makers for being one of the few (besides Google Forms) to offer unlimited questions and Excel exports in their free plan. Clients include Disney, Salesforce, Verizon, and The Home Depot.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Three surveys at a time.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • 100 responses.
  • 10 question types.
  • Export to Excel.
  • Customizable templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Unlimited question types.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Ability to embed surveys in websites.
  • Export to PDF, PowerPoint, or Word.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Survey analytics and reporting.
  • Ability to accept payment.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $49 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users needing to create long surveys with advanced logic and question types.

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6. Jotform

jotform survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

With over 10,000 templates, Jotform takes the cake as the survey maker with the most form templates on our list.

Jotform also stands out for letting you accept payments with the free plan (although you’re limited to 10).

This popular survey maker includes clients as wide-ranging as AMC and Nickelodeon to Redfin and the American Medical Association.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Five surveys.
  • 100 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website.
  • Export to PDF or Excel.
  • 10,000 survey templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • HIPAA compliance.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Users who want a template for every kind of survey possible.

Which Survey Tool Will You Use?

There truly is a survey maker for everybody.

The above options are all solid choices. Which one works for you may depend on your organization’s needs and your personal preferences.

Take advantage of the free trials and see which one you like best.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock



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