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Everlasting SEO principles that work, because the web is hypertext

Search Engines are a very significant factor in many businesses today. Many companies will fail or succeed depending on their ranking on Bing, DuckDuckGo or Google. This has understandably created a whole industry of Search Engine Optimisation around it. Money talks.

But it's worth noting that SEO, like programming, isn't a tangible good that you can own - it's free as in experience. You can get far in SEO with common sense and understanding that the nature of hypertext.

Your content needs to be good, trusted and accessible.

SEO as a business is as hyped up and popular as ever. It has also gotten increasingly hard to apply some of the basic tricks in the trade, since they are quite common sense and widespread. Also it is worth nothing that in many cases the website vendors are already very well aware of common Search Engine Optimisation practises.

Add to the mix that a lot of the websites people visit today are done with a handful of popular platforms such as WordPress, Drupal and others. This means there is no baseline work that needs to be done by an Internet Marketing Consultancy.

These web development companies can (and should) take care of the basic technical deployment developers. This still needs to be calculated into the budget, but it will take significantly less resources and time it's done during development and not afterwards by "Buzz Agencies".

Here are some basic things that date back to the mid 2000's, but are still very valid for any developer creating content driven sites and other web properties that have a public (Search Engine Robot) facing interface.

The list is by no means comprehensive, but it lists some things that help enable good rankings in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Also note that the exact algorithms and factors that define the order results are returned for specific search queries are a trade secret.

All outside SEO experts on the not working outside of companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple (should) know the exact details. It's all a business of guessing, experimenting and reaching certain conclusions. All the things listed belw help you to make good positioning in results, but by no means guarantee it.

Technical Search Engine Optimization

  • Check that the Title elements of your pages contain the essential information and are not too long (keyword stuffed). A good baseline is to build a path to the title, for example: Kona / Bicycles / Sports Equiment / Sportstore.com. It is commonly believed that the most important words should be in the beginning of the Title.
  • Verify that Search Robots can access all your pages. With contemporary web development methods this is usually covered by the CMS and good HTML markup, but you should still verify that no scripts are opened with (only) with JavaScript. Create an automatic XML Sitemap and link to it in Search Engine Webmaster tools to ensure indexing coverage.
  • If your page is built purely with JavaScript (such as with Angular, React.js), etc. you'll need to make additional considerations and testing.
  • In your content use the appropriate heading tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.). The h1 tag is the most significant weighing factor and you should have just one on each page.
  • Try to keep your addresses permanent (e.g. http://magazine.com/articles/my-title) even if you're migrating content from one sytem to another. If the addresses do change, make sure you have permanent (HTTP 301) redirects in place to maintain the SEO value inbound links from other sites.
  • Remember that your content should be found only from a single address. Many hosting environments have a default domain (mycompany.hostingcorp.com) in addition to the main one (www.mycompany.com). Create redirects to the main address or disallow traffic to the traffic to the other one completely.
  • If you want your content published in multiple locations across sites for information architecture, etc. you can set Canonical URL metatags to let search engines know the main location of the content. This way your content won't appear on search results twice with different URLs.
  • Note that search engines also place weight on the words found in the URL (both domain and path). For example an address like the following could be considered as reasonably good: http://bicycle-shoppe.com/mountainbikes/kona/tarkoittaa/vittua/24-inches/
  • If you have content in multiple languages, set the appropriate meta titles to your documents. This can be automatized by Content Management Systems.
  • An old domain is considered more trustworthy, if you do change domains be sure to use webmaster tools to do the site move.
  • Response times and reliability of the site - invest in good hosting and performance.
  • Hosting your site traffic as secure HTTPS is now considered better than unencrypted HTTP. Jury still out on serving HTTP/2 yet but it'll get defacto-status soon enough to not think about too much.
  • As of April 2015 Google has stated that Mobile Friendliness is a factor in their algorithms.
  • A lot of Robot Traffic now originates from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sources. Make sure to post links there to capitalise on transientally interesting content.
  • Markup your content with contemporary metadata formats such as Open Graph, Schema.org and JSON-LD.

Content and Information Architecture Optimization

  • There are a bunch of automatic tools to help you in "Keyword research" and other academic sounding terms. One is the Google Keyword Planner.
  • Take your time in considering what words people could use for finding your content. For example people searching for a Kona Mountain bike could use search terms like: Kona, mountain bike, bikes, etc.
  • Try to think of specific scenarios to find a niche. If someone is searching for a mountain bike for a child, then it might be worthwhile to create a product category like that in your ecommerce structure. In this case your content should have relevant content, simply stuffing terms is often considered harmful by people with experience in Search Engine Optimisation.
  • In seasonal services and products (such as ski resorts) you should take into account high seasons (skiing holidays, spring break, christmas holiday, etc.)
  • If your content is syndicated to other sites with permission, you should always require the syndicator to point a link to the original source. News and other bulletins such as Press Releases should always contain a link to the original article. This article is often automatically linked and will increase the credibility of your site in the Search Engine's links.

There are a few factors I believe are still significant in the field of SEO. But while working on honing your projects SEO aspects, consider if you're simply handing over your content to Google for use.

If you see any bullshit, please call it out.


Written by Jani Tarvainen on Friday July 17, 2015
Permalink - Tags: web, seo, google, bing, symfony, cms, drupal, wordpress, ezplatform, webdev

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