Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of enhancing your web site with the goal of increasing your visibility in the top search engines when specific keywords or phrases are searched for. Every web site that wants to be found in the organic search results of engines like Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask and the like need to incorporate some type of SEO strategy. Some take it to far though as in an example I recently found with a national computer services chain.
I started my Monday off with a strange phone conversation. I had put together a proposal for a potential client for both SEO and paid search management. The SEO portion of the proposal involved an initial cost which would allow us to develop and implement a strategy to optimize their site so that they could improve their visibility for organic search. Following up today with a phone meeting, my point of contact said they had just spoken to someone at Google who said that “Google” themselves would optimize their site for nothing – no initial investment, no set up costs, free. The potential client’s next question – “Why would we pay you to do something that Google will do for free?”
There is an interesting debate going on over at Small Business Ideas Forum where forum member, Dale King, starts a thread entitled “The Truth About Flash Websites” where Dale lays out his arguments as to why Flash and SEO together are not a good idea. He summarizes by stating that while Flash may look fantastic and can admittedly add a lot to any presentation from an accessibility and SEO standpoint, it should be used very sparingly and only for non-crucial content.
My thinking for the last few years now is that static search engine ranking reports hold little value in and of themselves. These are reports typically run by a software program in which a list of keywords is added along with the main URL of the site(s) you wish to check and the software then queries pre-selected search engines, creating a report showing where your site ranked for each term. This may have been a suitable way of measuring the success of an SEO effort (although traffic should always be measured as well) a few years ago but nowadays with the personalization of the search engines, not to mention all the other sources of traffic that can be derived including social media sites, press releases, blogs, etc., static ranking reports no longer paint an accurate picture.
During the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in New York, I had the opportunity to attend the “In House: Big SEO” session and listen in on how in house SEOs handle their search engine optimization strategies for large corporate sites. While the actual SEO techniques between small sites and large sites do not differentiate that much, the hurdles one has to clear are worlds apart.
How do you get the search engines to recognize the content of a site when it is all Flash? That was the topic of a late night discussion some of us search marketers were having in the Hilton bar last night . I won’t disclose the exact details of the site we were discussing. I have written before on the problems that Flash sites impose as far as a site’s search visibility. Because flash is composed of highly compressed graphics and/or video, the text that is often contained within the Flash elements are invisible. Furthermore if a site is completely Flash, meaning everything is contained with the Flash object – the graphics, the navigation, the content, even the interface, then engines have a difficult time understanding the topic of the site and is some case experience difficulty in crawling pages (if they exist in the first place).
Having worked with companies both large and small for almost a decade now, I have learned that there are fundamental principles that both parties must follow if they are going to have a successful SEO relationship. And that is what SEO truly is – a relationship or better yet, a partnership between the two parties. Like any partnership, there are do’s and don’ts that each party must practice if the relationship is to be a success. While not a complete list, I have put together ten important things to practice in order to have a successful SEO relationship.
I came upon such a question today on Search Engine Watch Forums. It is not the first time it has been asked – “Can I include my competitor’s names in my SEO strategy? Will I find myself in any kind of legal trouble?” Or even, “Is it ethical?” Sure you can do it. It is your site – you can do what you want with it. Yes, you may find yourself receiving one of those nice little cease and desist letters. As for ethics, that would depend on what your ethics are.
It has been a worry of many SEOs for the last couple of years. Will the fact that search engines are adding more “personalization” to the search results eventually kill the business of performing search engine optimization for web sites? SEO has become a very lucrative business and has seen many new companies as well as individuals come into the space for the last several years. SEOs fear that their livelihood may be in jeopardy as engines like Google, Yahoo and others cater to the personal searching habits of their users.
The places to obtain free SEO advice are plentiful. There are forums, blogs, articles, ebooks, webinars, and even live internet radio shows such as WebmasterRadio.fm. However most often the advice given is more of a general nature involving specific techniques or strategies that can be applied to a multitude of sites. If advice is given about a specific site, such as in a forum, it is most often generalized so it can help all who visit the forum as opposed to just the site owner themselves.
At least that is what Dave Pasternack of Did-it.com is saying. Yes he has stuck his foot in his mouth once again. Are you tired yet of hearing from this guy? I know I am. In this latest DM News article, he answers a series of questions, one of which he compares SEO to baking a cake. Sound foolish? Wait, there’s more.
We very frequently receive RFPs (requests for proposal) from e-commerce sites. The application behind the e-commerce store, often referred to as a shopping cart application or product database, can be an off the shelf product such as osCommerce, MonsterCommerce or X-Cart to name a few. Or it can even be proprietary, custom developed by a web programmer. No matter how the e-commerce site is powered, there are specific features that we look for in order to know if we will have full liberty to optimize the site so that it has the best opportunity to position well in the organic search results. Some applications already have SEO friendly features built in but many do not. Therefore if you own or are getting ready to set up an e-shop, make sure your product database has the following SEO friendly features.