Speaker 1: Mark Jackson – VIZION Interactive, Inc.
I will cover getting your site to do well and traffic – not the end of the game; you need to convert and be successful on all browsers. I will cover keyword research, creating a SE friendly architecture. I won’t get into details, just highlights, and content.
Keyword research – you may use your tool and build strategy around most searched for keyword. At this phase you need to talk to your target audience, don’t just go for the most popular, go for the tail end. Make sure the keywords didn’t come from the CEO, talk to the target audience. Assign relevancy to words to get a good targeted list. At vision, we put together a spreadsheet and assign relevancy – up to 100%.
Once you’ve done research, find out who is ranking for those words and why. Know who you are; carve out your niche, try to determine factors necessary to compete with those words, then develop your content.
We look at indexed pages for competitive sites and your own, Yahoo does the best here.
Creating the IA: incorporate the keyword research, incorporate comp analysis, then lay out your site. Use keywords when you can in the names of the pages, assign tags, metas, etc.
A good example is Tripadvisor.com. Look at the site map on tourism. They organized their verticals well.
A lot of people say SEO sites are ugly – not true. Avoid java script, image based navigation, flash navigation, flash intros to site. Allow space for content – a lot of ecommerce site get carried away with images. Use alt text. Try to write static urls in the development stage. Design should follow the IA – design should be the 3rd phase of the process, try to have a reason why the site is being designed that way.
Trip Advisor is good for usability. Usability is important. What’s below the fold on their home page is a lot of links using great anchor text.
Read Searchenginewatch.com this Tuesday for article on spam.
Building content: Once you have your keywords, your site is only as good as the copy you put on the pages write engaging content. Don’t stuff. Make it engaging for visitors and search engines. Once you have content, go back through it and try to link between one page to another, this is great for spiders. Use good anchor texts. People get so caught up with external links but forget about linking within site.
Make sure you avoid marketing fluff. Blogs are great for getting out quick content. Pages will rank quickly.
Summary: do research before design, use research smartly to develop IA. Deign for usability and SEO, in that order. Make sure you have good content. Speaker 2: Alan K’necht, K’nechtology, Inc:
Newspaper philosophy – they get readers engaged. Why? Linear info – easy to read! Headlines first! Main story first! Important stuff up front! That’s what search engines are trying to do, be easy for the human. Newspaper puts links to inner pages at the end (i.e. continued on page 22). So linear approach is that the important elements must come first! H1 first, H2 second, target words in H1 – first and foremost, this is what page is about! Stick graphic at the bottom!
One of the ways to see if coders did a good job is to turn off CSS using the Firefox Webmaster Toolbar. You can see what the site looks like. You can remove lots of the fluff. If the logo is relevant or well known keep it in towards the top. Get content up front though. Usability for search engines.
Speaker 3: Lyndsay Walker – WestJet – Canadian Airline
Design for your visitors! You want to have a clear navigation not only for visitors but also for search engines. Avoid flash, there is no advantage whatever. There is so much you can do with CSS and Java that can simulate what Flash can do. Fresh content is the best. Use DIVs – more reliable than a table structure. Use your stats – what browsers are people using? Where are they going on your site? Test everything in Firefox – it’s a compliant browser. If you design for Internet Explorer, you will test in Firefox and it will be broken. Design for Firefox and tweak for IE. You will save yourself a lot of headaches. Especially since Firefox has great tools and plug-ins. If you watch your stats over time, you will notice an increase in Firefox users as well as mobile device users to surf the net.
Must-haves recap: Title tag – unique to every page. Meta description tag – the yes or no if someone will click on our site. Very important. Header tags – place prominently at the top, H1, H2 etc. Strong code-to-content ratio – CSS is so important, you really don’t need a lot of code these days. DIVs instead of tables. Don’t forget your keywords. Links – so important – internal linking structure just as important as external.
Side note - Inadvertent SEO – If you are testing out new pages, the search engines will find it whether you are ready or not. If you are not ready for it to be live, use a testing environment or watch your linking structure.
Speaker 4: Paul Bruemmer – Red Door Interactive
Organic Site Structure:
- Server configuration: robot.txt, redirect codes, 404 error codes, internal broken links, canonical duplicate content, dedicated IP address, alias URLs, transfer of keyword page rankings, etc. - Site architecture gone bad: messed up situation. To prevent, 6 essential components to implement: Inclusion ratio – it pays to know and track the number of pages indexed to gauge how you are doing in the index. Directory structure and naming conventions. Internal linking structure – very often neglected and annoying to correct. Dynamic and persistent URLs. Site Map. Privacy statement.
Content Generation: Look at competitive landscape and be equal to or greater than. Textual content types: articles, industry news, etc. Think about content promotion, RSS feeds, blogs etc.
Content Optimization comes down to 6 on-page factors, Lyndsay summed them up. If you work them into your design you will do really well.
Natural Link Profile: think ahead about creating a neighborhood of links around you which will have a huge impact on your site. Give some thought to your link profile.
Deep Link Profile – ratios of links to subpages in comparison to links to homepages.
Additional considerations are feeds, paid search, local search (map locations, XHTML for mobile), development and administrative staff etc.
Contributed by Sheara Wilensky, a Search Strategist for Promediacorp.