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I am a big advocate of SEO 101. A lot of people these days are all about Web 2.0 or Web 3.0 and it shows. Have you seen some of the "crap" that is on the Web these days? Sure it might be flashy and fancy… from a design point of view, but quite often, it sure does not help with the user experience or with the ability to find relevant results in a given search engine. I guess by title, I am an organic search strategist. I have focused on SEO initiatives to help my clients intercept their target audience. I help them provide content that is useful, informative and relevant to their audience.
I have been lucky to work with some of the world’s most well known brands some of which happen to have large commerce sites. As we move into 2001, I am amazed to see just how much fundamental organic optimization so many sites lack. Even worse is the fact that some (many?) in the Search industry also overlook the fundamentals of SEO. So while this may be a refresher for many of you, I do know that there are some out there who will find the following SEO reminders useful.
A Couple of SEO Reminders
Site Architecture is important for SEO success - guess what? If you cannot map out a search friendly architecture and layout of your site, you are simply not going to do well in the search results of the engines. Some key points to remember:
Structure your site in a logical manner
Avoid burying important content 4 or more folders deep in the hierarchy
Create search engine friendly URLs
Use canonical URLs
Use the canonical tag to address duplicate content concerns
Keep it clean!
Create Unique Content on your Product or main information Pages - avoid adding vendor provided content. Every other site that sells the same product will also feature this content. The engines are looking to index useful, informative and unique content. Help them out by continuing to publish fresh and informative content. You will also receive the benefits of link value from other site and blogs that link to this content.
Use an SEO friendly CMS (Content Management System) - ensure that your CMS system allows you to populate fundamentals such as unique title and meta tags and that you are able to add any necessary SEO fields as required.
Avoid Using Java Script in Navigation - while the engines are getting better at reading JS, they are still not there just yet. Make sure that the search engines can follow your links and avoid placing your main navigation (top nav, side nav, footer nav) in JS. Consider using CSS and include files as a way to create your site navigation. Again this is just SEO 101 best practice type of stuff.
Create and Update Your HTML Sitemaps – as you push out new content to the web make sure that you add it to your HTML sitemap. Have a ton of pages? Leverage multiple sitemap-like pages.
Create and Update XML Sitemaps – as you continue to add content to your site, your site can quickly become fairly large in terms of pages. One way to ensure that your content is being crawled and indexed efficiently is to create and submit XML sitemaps to Google (and Bing). Remember that via XML sitemaps you can actually set the priority of which pages you consider to be the most important as related to other pages on your site. Communicate this to the search engines to ensure efficient indexing of your site.
Avoid hiding your content from the search engines – things like Flash, JS and frames might be useful from a design perspective but really they can wreak havoc from an SEO perspective. Help the engines find your content and make it easier for them to crawl and index.
I understand that to some of you this may be elementary SEO, but why oh why are so many sites neglecting these fundamental practices. Whether you have an an e-commerce site, a blog, a directory, start with the basics. Trust me, if you have failed to address the fundamentals you will be limited in your ability to place well in the results. The longer your wait to address these issues the harder it is to overcome them. In case you have not yet noticed the Web is a hyper-competitive environment. Failure to address the fundamentals can most definitely have an impact on the bottom line that you generate from your online marketing efforts. Why restrict yourself? The need for fundamental SEO should be the first place you start when trying to optimize your web properties.