SEO Tips for 2011


SEO strategy changes all the time so I thought I’d post an article that is relevant to 2011. The purpose of this post is get a list of some of the things I think people should be focusing on outside of link building and external marketing.

1. Use Auto Suggestions to build your title and url.

Here’s how I came up with the title for this post.

I opened google, I typed ‘SEO Tips’ without pressing return and looked at the suggestions it gave me. Out of the list I thought ‘SEO Tips 2011’ gave me a topic I could write about that would be valuable to it’s reader.

let Google Suggestions be your guide

2. How your HTML is Marked up is more important than how your web page looks.

Fast clean pages with fewer images and fast load times do better with bots and people. Notice Google and Amazon are heavily text based and not very pretty. That’s because they get it.

Marketing text inside of images doesn’t reach the bots.
Content inside of flash files isn’t helping people find your site.
Depending on the type of content you are working with there are different best practices for meta tags and markup. You don’t mark up a product site the same way you mark up a news site or a video site.

Here’s a markup article I wrote on MetaTags.

3. Ajax and Popups are nice for functionality but bad for SEO.

The bot is just going to parse the HTML as it renders, it doesn’t care about your ajax events so if there is content on your page that isn’t there on load from an bot perspective it’s not there. The most common example of this is ‘click here to see more info’ and it does it in a modal window with AJAX.  Also tabbed data that uses AJAX has this problem.

If you have terms on a page put them in google and make sure you get a long tail hit on them.

4. PDF and Video’s are bad if there isn’t a corresponding page with lots of data about the PDF or Video

PDF material is nice for technical information and printing but having a html version of that pdf with a download link to the pdf is better for SEO.  At the least make sure there is text on the page describing your multimedia content.

For example lets say I have a video on how to build a ‘foo’. The page has some basic text describing the video as ‘how to build a foo’ with very little detail. The video is an hour long.  The video covers everything from ‘converting a ‘thingamajig’ to a ‘whatsit’ as part of building a foo.

You search for “building a foo” your video comes up.

You search for “converting a ‘thingamajig’ to a ‘whatsit'” and your video doesn’t come up. You have content for this but it’s not indexed on that term because the term is only spoke and not written.

Having Video files and PDF’s are good but you need to surround it with the proper copy in html to maximize it’s value.

5. Measure often and react

Google and yahoo have tools for optimizing SEO, have a strategy that involves implementing, learning them and checking things on a daily basis. Content authors need the ability to see how their content is doing so they can measure, tweak, and improve things and someone should be able to rattle off rough stats on how your doing on different search terms.  For example on my blog my stuff on Razor gives me the most search based traffic.

6. Find an SEO Resource you can afford and ‘Learn to Fish’

Read a book, some articles, find a forum, bring in a consultant or company and have them teach you what they know about SEO and apply it.

7. Google has previews

This is another spot where AJAX can give you problems. Make sure the previews of your pages in ‘google preview’ are acceptable.

8. Content and Timing are key
Your site ranking and inlinks are important but the content,q uality, timing and bot readability of it rules. I’m a one person blog with very few links to it but on terms you would expect to bring up a microsoft page or stackoverlow page I often see my pages above them on terms we are sharing.

Timing is also very important, a will written article on a subject that shows up first will often remain at the top of the rankings.  If you search for a subject you should notice there is a relation between ranking and when they showed up on the market for equally well tagged and written content.

9. It’s a game play and have fun.

If you think you should rank higher on a subject than some other site put the time in to figure out why they are better, come up with a plan to pass them and win! Don’t settle for anything.

Authors note : If in an effort to improve things you mess up and actually bring things down on a major site you are probably going to be in some trouble but you can’t win if you don’t try so have back up plans and CYA.

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Meta Tags for public facing websites


I recently took an attempt at writing a web service that allowed me to get details about a web page similar to what you see when you paste a link in face book. In doing this I learned that there are quite a few meta tags a publicly facing site should have that go beyond the basic SEO tags we’ve been putting in for years.

The SEO tags are Title, Description, Keywords and Canonical.

Title is the title you see in the top of the browser window as well as the title search engines give to your page.

<title>My Page Title Goes Here</title>

Description
is not visible in the browser window but it used below the title of your page in search engines to describe your page.

<meta name=”description” content=”This is the best page in the world, you should visit it so you know what everyone else is talking about”>

Keywords keywords should contain a comma seperated list of the search terms you are targeting. They say the search engines no longer use this so you may want to save yourself some maintenance time and stop supporting this term.

<meta name=”keywords” content=”my keyword1, my keyword 2″/>

Canonical is a relatively new one that is for search engines. If you can access a page from multiple URL’s the canonical tag should be the most human readable version that you want the search engines to display.

If you support friendly urls

something like http://www.mywebsite.com/Articles/1/Title-Of-My-Story

is preferred over http://www.mywebsite.com/articles?id=1

In this case you would place the tag below in both versions of the page.

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.mywebsite.com/Articles/1/Title-Of-My-Story">

Now the new stuff I’m seeing is used to describe your page to non search engines but things like Browsers, IPhones, Mashups and Facebook.

Shortcut_Icon used in favorites/bookmarks
sample from cnn.com
<link type=”image/x-icon” href=”http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/favicon.ico&#8221; rel=”shortcut icon”>

Apple Touch Icon points to hi-res icon for Apple iTouch Devices.
sample from stackoverlfow.com
<link href=”http://sstatic.net/stackoverflow/img/apple-touch-icon.png&#8221; rel=”apple-touch-icon”>

image_src is picked up by things like facebook and google news to show the image associated with your pages content.
sample from cnn.com article
<link rel=”image_src” href=”http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/img/3.0/newsscanner/no_image_cnn_90x51.jpg“/>

Open Graph tags for facebook
If you care about what a link to your site looks like when someone puts a link up in facebook you can control it with open graph tags.
There is more info on open graph here on facebook.

Here’s a youtube video sample using open graph

    <meta property="og:url" content="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4SkO3ypCXw" />
    <meta property="og:title" content="Drunken Master Trailer" />
    <meta property="og:description" content="Wong Fei Hong (Jackie Chan) is sent to train under his uncle, a wine guzzling master famous for crippling his students. Desperate to escape this brutal teach..." />
    <meta property="og:type" content="video" />
    <meta property="og:image" content="http://i2.ytimg.com/vi/i4SkO3ypCXw/default.jpg" />
    <meta property="og:video" content="http://www.youtube.com/e/i4SkO3ypCXw" />
    <meta property="og:video:type" content="application/x-shockwave-flash" />
    <meta property="og:site_name" content="YouTube" />

Driving Traffic and Sales with an API


10 years ago there were two reasons I would use an API (Advanced Programmable Interface).
1. To talk to hardware from a software interface.
2. To leverage third party software inside of an application.

Now I see Google, Amazon and Facebook as leaders in their respective industries. They all have API’s that allow developers to send them traffic and information as well as advertise their site. Lets take a look at the three companies and what they’re doing to expand their business with API’s.

Google

Google has a lot of API’s as well as a full blown SDK (Software Developers Kit) on the android. I’ll focus on their web based feeds and services for this article and skip the Android SDK. A quick look at the google code page shows something like 50 to 70 projects, most of which can be considered an API.

Google makes most of it’s money on advertising and they’re able to successfully advertise based on content and data they have mined about you combined with data mined from others.

They have 8 Advertising API’s that allows developers to make use of AdSense in their software.

There are 5 or 6 around geolocating and maps. When you build apps using these api’s and combine them with AdSense, you have location based  marketing tools.

There’s a YouTube api which should ultimately drive traffic to a site they own.

There’s commerce and product search API’s you can use to search your own products and implement their checkout system at a cost. Not only can you read the commerce feed but you can submit your companies product data to it.

There are API’s for GMail and Google Docs which google hopes to compete with Microsoft in those spaces.

I’ll admit there’s some API’s that I have no clue how their making money with but they’re getting developers to use their brand and display their data from their data feeds so there has to be some value in that.

Facebook

We’ve all seen the Facebook like buttons all over the web. That’s an example of an API being implemented. It gets facebooks logo on your webpage and gives your users a way to share your content on facebook. It’s win/win for both Facebook and the company implementing it.

A look at the Facebook developers page gives you api’s for building facebooks apps and games as well as integrating facebook into a mobile device. They’re giving developers tools to build up the facebook brand and they provide the tools for doing so.

They have a link to a showcase page showing how businesses are leveraging facebook. There are people both building widgets in their website that integrate into facebook as well as full blown applications running inside of facebook.

Amazon

Amazon has a bunch of API’s for their affiliates, both advertisers and suppliers. There are tools for building lists of products to display on your site, tools for adding products to amazon and tools for building an entire commerce system in your site that are all built on Amazon API’s. Because of these API’s Amazon has sites all over the internet linking to products on their site and complete checkout systems that might not say amazon on them but Amazon is under the covers.

Compare Amazon to Walmart. Walmart has some datafeeds with product info for their advertising programs but that’s about it. They’re not building an API that allows developers to build a business. So they’re raking in the doe with their brick and mortar sites, but Amazon is king of the internet.

My Overall Thought

If you’re an internet based company or a company trying to build it’s internet presence maybe it’s not enough to focus on SEO and online advertising programs because the kings of the internet are building API’s that allow developers to drive traffic and sales to them.