I was recently at a networking event where someone asked me, “what are the newest things in the web development industry?”. While these are not necessarily “new” developments, these are the things you need to be considering this year (2022) when building a website.
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Core Web Vitals
Google is now using User Experience as a ranking factor. Ever been on a website that takes a long time to load? Or the split second before you click on a button, the page moves and you click on the wrong button? What about those annoying pop ups you have to keep closing before you can read any content? Google now dings websites for slow loading or layout shifts. A good user experience will benefit your ranking on Google and make your website visitors happier.
You can check your website performance here: https://web.dev/measure/
An underestimated number of people have disabilities. For 30 years now, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has required businesses to give people with disabilities equal access to products and services. This means that people with disabilities must be able to use your website or you could be putting yourself at risk of a lawsuit.
A lot is made of the lawsuits but making websites accessible can also help with Search Engine Optimization. The same things that make websites easier for people with disabilities, can also make it easier for Google to crawl the website. Those sidewalk ramps on every corner are necessary for people with wheelchairs but they also make life easier for parents pushing a baby stroller or travelers with rolling luggage.
There are some tools such as the WAVE Evaluation Chrome extension that can help you find some accessibility issues. Or the Lighthouse Chrome extension that checks your website for accessibility, core web vitals, and other areas. Testing your website for accessibility requires some manual testing that cannot be done with any current tools.
Content for humans is king
Google is getting smarter everyday. Focusing on answering consumer questions is more important than ever. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) used to reward content that had a lot of keywords stuffed into the paragraphs. The more times you used a word, the more weight that search engines gave the page. Some written content on the web made little sense to a human reading it.
With artificial intelligence and new Google search engine updates, it is now more important than ever that your content be written so that other humans can understand it. Instead of trying to trick search engines into ranking your website in the search results, you should be trying to help people find what they are looking for.
Feeding the robots (search engines) used to be all about making sure you used keywords over and over. Now giving the robots what they want means giving humans using search engines the information that will satisfy their search query.
The modern web is becoming a safer, more inclusive source of information where you can find content quickly. Your website must be fast, easy to use, accessible, privacy focused, and relevant. If not, you will either find yourself in legal trouble or (maybe) even worse: not showing up in search results.
Make sure to test for common website problems.
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