Implement These Sneaky But Legal SEO Hacks For Lightning Fast Results

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June 3, 2024

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Implement These Sneaky But Legal SEO Hacks For Lightning Fast Results

Implement These Sneaky But Legal SEO Hacks For Lightning Fast Results

The Rise and Fall of the Single-Page App

As a Java developer, I’ve spent most of my professional life working on the back-end of software systems. But lately, I’ve found myself wanting to branch out and explore the world of HTML and UI development. A couple of years ago, this natural curiosity led me to start a new side project – a hobby application that would be used by me and a few friends.

I settled on JHipster, a development platform that promised to get me up and running with a functioning web application in no time, using modern technologies like Angular, React, or Vue for the client-side and Spring plus Gradle or Maven for the server-side. Within a few weeks, I had a working application that met all my needs. But a funny thing happened soon after I launched – other people started using the application.

Knowing I had created something useful for a larger audience was really satisfying. So, like any other developer trying to balance a full-time job, family, and hobby projects, I spent my nights, weekends, and every free moment I had working on improving the application. However, the more I tried to improve it, the harder things got. I spent a lot of time looking up how to do new things that weren’t part of the boilerplate setup, and I was learning some of the limitations that now felt like major roadblocks.

After a few months, it became clear to me that my choice of technologies was becoming a hindrance to making the application better. Ultimately, I decided to rewrite most of it using frameworks that were more familiar to me.

The SEO Pitfalls of Single-Page Apps

Now, let me be clear – JHipster and Angular are not bad platforms. Far from it. I’d recommend them in a heartbeat for the right project. When I say they were becoming a hindrance, what I really mean is that my lack of knowledge of the technologies had come back to bite me. For all the reasons I had chosen them, there were plenty of other reasons that might have made me think differently, had I known about them.

One of the biggest issues I ran into was with search engine optimization (SEO). Unlike traditional web pages, single-page apps don’t operate the same way. Web browsers work using a client-server model, where the browser sends a request to the server, and the server sends back the full HTML document required to render a web page.

But a single-page app breaks this paradigm. The initial response from the server is just a bare-bones HTML document with no real content. Instead, the heart and soul of the single-page app is in the JavaScript files that get loaded, which then send back requests to the server to fetch the actual content and dynamically update the HTML in the web browser.

The problem is that search engine crawlers, like Google’s, may not be executing the JavaScript files. They’re simply loading the template HTML file and scanning its structure for hints about what the website is actually about. And as you can imagine, the default HTML for a single-page app includes lots of helpful developer information that is intended to be used for troubleshooting, but never actually displayed in a web browser when things are working properly.

So, while my website had hundreds, if not thousands, of unique web pages with varying content, Google was only showing it in search results for a single keyword that had nothing to do with my website. The search engine was interpreting my site as being about Maven proxy configuration, simply because those words showed up in the template HTML.

The Social Sharing Conundrum

Another area I ran into problems with was social sharing. My website allowed users to create dynamic content, and also included lots of static content that others might find useful. In the early days of launching, I indeed saw that people were sharing links to my websites across various social media platforms.

However, much like search engines, social networks rely on the metadata within the HTML to understand what a web page is about. They use this information to generate the nice previews you see when a link is shared. But in my case, Facebook and other social networks were falling victim to the same problem as Google – they were reading the template HTML file as-is, and not applying the JavaScript that would help fill in the meaningful metadata.

The result was that every link from my website that was shared on social media was generating the exact same preview, whether it was user-generated content, a static page, or even the home page. Functionally, nothing was wrong – a user could still click on the preview and be taken to the correct URL on the site. But I didn’t like the idea that the preview wasn’t helpful in enticing people to click through and discover my application.

The Caching Conundrum

Another area I quickly became concerned with was caching. With a small user base initially, I never worried much about expensive database queries or page load times. But as new users started to use the website, I started to get worried about these things. Were my queries as performant as possible? Was I taxing MongoDB with too many requests? Would new users give up if a page took too long to load?

I decided to look into caching as a solution. I’ve worked with a variety of enterprise caching technologies in the past, but for my use case, they all felt like overkill. Plus, they would add to the compute and memory costs of a project that was still technically only a hobby.

Instead, I decided to use CloudFlare’s page caching feature. CloudFlare acts as a reverse proxy to my website, caching the server responses across their global data centers. All I had to do was configure which set of URLs I wanted them to cache, and CloudFlare handled the rest without me writing a single line of code.

However, in practice, this wasn’t quite working as expected. I wasn’t seeing the appreciable decrease in resource utilization that I was expecting. The reason? CloudFlare was simply caching the bare-bones template HTML, not the dynamically generated content. So when a user requested a cached page, they were still getting the template, and the JavaScript files would then have to send a bunch of requests to my server to get the real content.

Lesson Learned: Choose the Right Tool for the Job

Looking back on this experience, I realize that I got a bit caught up in the excitement of learning new technology. As a developer, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to expand my skillset and make myself more valuable to potential employers. But sometimes, that can lead to a case of “technology envy,” where I see what others are doing and think I need to know those things too.

In this case, I was so focused on creating a functioning application from the ground up using the latest and greatest frameworks, that I didn’t stop to consider how that decision would impact the future of the app. Whenever I wanted to add a new feature or page, I found the choice of framework to be increasingly frustrating, as I was constantly looking up how to do things and going down rabbit holes.

The lesson I learned is that it’s important to choose the right tool for the job. While single-page apps have their place, they may not have been the best choice for my particular use case, especially when it came to SEO, social sharing, and caching.

Ultimately, this experience was invaluable. Mistakes are good – they help us learn and make better decisions down the road. I’ve already got new ideas for how I can use single-page apps for other projects I’m working on. And this time, I’ll have the confidence to know when they are the right tool for the job, and when something else might be more appropriate.

Sneaky But Legal SEO Hacks for Lightning Fast Results

So, what does all of this have to do with you and your architectural photography business? Well, the truth is, the challenges I faced with my single-page app are not unique to that specific technology – they’re common issues that many website owners encounter when it comes to search engine optimization.

Here are some of the sneaky but legal SEO hacks I’ve learned that can help you see lightning fast results:

Optimize Your Images

As a photographer, your website is going to be heavily image-centric. But that can also be a double-edged sword when it comes to SEO. Proper image optimization is crucial for keeping your page load times fast and making sure Google’s crawlers can properly understand the content of your site.

Start by ensuring your images are the right size for your website’s layout. There’s no need to have massive, high-resolution photos if they’re just going to be displayed at a smaller size. Use tools like Lightroom, Photoshop, or even free web apps to batch resize and optimize your images for the web.

Don’t forget about alt text and metadata, either. Adding descriptive alt text to your images helps search engines understand what they’re about, and filling out the metadata can provide crucial information for social media sharing.

Focus on Long-Tail Keywords

As an architectural photographer, you’re operating in a pretty competitive space. Trying to rank for broad, high-volume keywords like “architectural photography” is going to be an uphill battle.

Instead, focus on long-tail keywords – more specific, lower-volume search terms that are closely aligned with the services you offer. For example, “sustainable architectural photographer Melbourne Australia” is going to be a lot easier to rank for than just “architectural photographer.”

By targeting these long-tail keywords, you can not only improve your search engine visibility, but also attract the exact type of clients you want to work with. And as an added bonus, ranking well for more obscure keywords can actually help boost your overall authority in the eyes of Google.

Leverage Your Google Business Profile

One of the most underutilized SEO tools for local businesses is the Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business). Setting up a complete and accurate profile can help you show up prominently in “near me” searches, as well as provide important information about your business to potential clients.

Make sure to fill out all the relevant details, including your business hours, services offered, and a link to your website. You can also upload photos and post updates to keep your profile fresh and engaging.

The best part? It’s completely free to set up and maintain a Google Business Profile. Just a little bit of upfront work can pay dividends in terms of increased visibility and credibility for your architectural photography business.

Write for Humans, Not Search Engines

It can be tempting to get caught up in the “game” of SEO, trying to stuff your website with keywords and optimizations. But the truth is, the most effective SEO strategies are the ones that focus on creating genuinely useful, engaging content for your target audience.

Instead of trying to reverse-engineer what Google wants, write blog posts, project descriptions, and other website content that provides value to your potential clients. Share your expertise, showcase your work, and give them a glimpse into your unique approach as an architectural photographer.

When you prioritize the human experience over search engine algorithms, you’ll not only attract the right kind of traffic to your site, but you’ll also build trust and credibility with your audience. And that’s the foundation of a truly successful online presence.

So there you have it – a few sneaky but legal SEO hacks that can help you see lightning fast results for your architectural photography business. Remember, the key is to focus on creating a user-friendly, high-quality website that search engines will love just as much as your clients do.

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