Fun with Dynamic Web Sites

Aug 21, 2007 • 7:41 pm | comments (0) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2007 San Jose
 

Web pages or product listings stored in a database or a dynamic page assembly system can be "invisible" to crawler-based search engines. Discover solutions to this problem and the other unique issues that need to be considered by those running dynamic web sites. In addition, discover why dynamic sites needn't be a problem but a benefit when dealing with search engines. This session is moderated by Detlev Johnson of Position Technologies with Laura Thieme of Bizresearch, Mikkel deMib Svendsen of deMib.com and Jake Baillie of STN Labs

Mikkel gets things rolling by discussing some of the problems and solutions for dynamic sites. The problem is access. Engines may have problem indexing pages.  He talks about the IRTA model - Index, Ranking, Traffic and Actions. Simplify technology to make it easier for users and spider. He talks about a virtual bridge between users and spiders. An example of this is dealing with the complexity of dynamic URLs by using a mod rewrite.

Things that are not a problem -

- That you store your information in database
- Question marks - this does indicate to engines that the web site uses a template
- SSI (server side includes)
- File extension

Mikkel points out that there is an infinite number of indexing problems.

- Long URLs
- Duplicate content - session ids, time stamped URLs, etc.
- Technologies - AJAX, etc.
- Spider traps
- Server downtime or slow responses

Indirect issues include -

- Support of cookies, JavaScript and Flash.
- Geo targeting and personalization
- Form (post method) navigation

There are multiple solutions to any problem. One example is mod rewrite where you take multiple parameters in a URL for example and rewrite it so that it is one parameter. He also says you do not need a dynamic site especially if you have a half dozen pages or so. Another option is to have dynamic elements in static sites.

Laura is up next. When dealing with a dynamic site, the first thing to look at is URL structure and see how well pages are indexed in search engines. Look at current rankings as well. Ultimately overcome technology, resource or political issues.

She shows us an example of such an easy fix - home page titles and uses Peir1 imports as an example. She suggests targeting some of the most popular terms. She also points out that the site had extremely long URLs but only Google was having issues indexing them. Another very easy fix is optimizing category titles. She suggests placing several keywords or variations in title tag in order of importance.  All the things that can be optimized on static sites, can and should be optimized on dynamic sites as well.

She shows several examples of large e-commerce sites who neglected to optimize title tags. She warns to watch out for CMS and ecommerce solutions that are not search engine friendly. The speed that changes are implemented through MSN may indicate future success for Google. Also consider optimizing a data feed for Yahoo! Use 301s when changing pages.

Finally Jake steps up to the podium. First thing Jake points out that dynamic sites are not a problem. They haven't been for five years now. SEO is more of a design philosophy as opposed to changing little things here and there. He points out that there is not requirement that a URL actually point to a file so there is a lot of fun things you can do with dynamic sites.

First thing Jake talks about is using dynamic 800 numbers to track conversions. He uses the example of JustFlowers.com who uses the same 800 numbers across multiple ads. Dynamic sites can assign dynamic numbers on the fly. By doing this, one can track how ads are actually converting.

He then talks about serving different content to different users. USA Today for example will deliver a nicely formatted web page for mobile phones even though you may be using the same URL on the phone as you would in a web browser on a PC. 

Another fun thing you can do with dynamic sites is to use cookies and sub-domains.

Mine failed search results from your logs. People mis-spell all the time and sending them to "no results found" pages will create a good user experience. Learn what people are searching far where they get no results, and adjust your web strategy.

Use mod rewrite to switch out images from those who steal them from you.

I decided to hang around and try to recap some of the Q&A.

Q: Do user and spiders see SSI differently?
A: If engines can see that you are including files, then you have a security problem. In other words, they only see the final product, not the raw html. The spider is just like a browser.

Q: How do you check to see if your results are in supplemental index?
A: Spider your own web site and then export into spreadsheet in which case you can see titles. Then if you see repeat titles, you know you might have a supplemental index problem.

Q: If client is shopping for search engine friendly e-commerce platform, what do they look for?
A: Ability to be indexed. Check other sites using that software and see if there are indexing problems - duplicate content, not indexing, etc. Secondly look for how much flexibility you have in changing site.

It was difficult to actually write down anymore from this session as quite a few things Mikkel and Jake talked about, you have to just "be there" to really get it.


David Wallace - CEO and Founder SearchRank

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