SEO The last thing I ever wanted to be was an SEO snake oil salesman. But as an ASP.NET Web Devigner (Devigner = Developer + Designer), it's not something that I tend to ignore. I recently took on a project to improve the SEO of our local Tourism website. I'm not going to delve into the project details here, but suffice to say that a project like this can offer much insight in normal times but I probably couldn't have picked a worse time to decide on SEO strategies for a website. The last few months have seen radical shifts in SEO priorites in general, and Google's algorithms in particular. Don't forget: SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) now return real-time results from social networking sites such as Twitter - more on the implications of this below.

Against this backdrop, I decided on an initial analysis of the site using the new IIS SEO Toolikit - get this tool and use it! This identified about 650 no-no's so I spent a week eliminating these one by one and wrote some code to take care of the meta tags and the like. The most important decision I made was to agree with the client to monitor the site for SEO hits, good or bad, for the coming six months. It behooves any contractor to take this course when they know in advance that they may not know anything at all!

IIS Toolkit

 

Google had no choice but to find some way to reduce the amount of spam clogging its data centers and apply some qualititative heuristic to measure the relevance of sites.  So, they recently re-wrote their entire algorithm (codename "Caffeine") which caused no end of panic among the SEO heads! To this end, page rank seems to be playing a much smaller part than ever before. And whatever small part it is playing will be very much influenced by a site's performance. In fact, performance is going to figure heavily in how well a site fares with Google overall. I can see myself getting more involved in this since it is going to effect clients' pocket books in a very discernible way - my prediction for 2010!

WHAT'S GOING TO MATTER

* Personalization
Search If you're signed in or not, Google can use your search history to tweak the relevance of your own searches. Signed in, you can opt to turn it on or off. Signed out, a cookie records your search history for 180 days. I'm not a big fan of this because I want my results to be the natural consequence of my ability to creatively grep precisely what it is I'm looking for. But that's just me and I can readily see how this step is necessary for Google to provide "meaningful" results to people. Personalization lends even more credence to the diminishing importance of page rank.

* Conversions
This is the number of successful transactions divided by the number of total unique visitors. Think of an E-Commerce site where you can use advanced Google Analytics tools to measure conversion rate formula as the number of sales divided by the total number of unique visitors. Check out Google's Conversion University.

* Universal Search
Remember, that search results now include video, images, blogs, books. I have been running some tests for the blog results and my impression is that the big sites with large traffic are just getting stronger. Even entering the title of my blog (The ASP.NET Community Blog), does not show me in the first ten pages of results! I've seen other developers complaining of a lack of transparency - but then again, we're talking about search algorithms which are as tightly guarded as a duck's arse and that's watertight. No surprise there, but it's still unsettling because the cause and effect of SEO tweaks seems to be even less predictable now.

THE REAL IMPLICATIONS

1) Sites with basic SEO errors will be penalized.

2) Sites with poor performance will be penalized. If you stop and think about it, there must be a huge increase in the amount of content that Google has to index in light of real-time results pouring into their data centers every second. Something has to give. Check out the peformance of your site using the Google-recommended WebPageTest application.

UPDATE

Best Practices for Speeding up your Website

kick it on DotNetKicks.com

Tags: ,

Google | SEO



Google Chrome - First Impressions

by agrace 3. September 2008 20:54

Everybody and their Grand-Aunt are currently blogging about the new Google Chrome Browser so I'm joining the gang. First off, it's a beta so I'm not going to knock it for some of the various rendering problems I encountered; I used it on some exisiting sites I have developed with cross-browser consistency for IE7 and Firefox 3.0 (don't get me started on 3.0.1). For example, I'm experiencing what seems to be an unusual interpretation of the box model, problems with a Javascripted footer floating up a little from the end of a page, typical Googlesque background coloring of form fields, and textboxes having a color border placed around them when active, etc.

My Silverlight Won't Work :-(

One question begs to be asked: why would anyone base their new browser on the rendering engine of a browser (Safari) used by about 3% of users (mainly designers), at best? I discovered this nugget when attempting to find out why sites working in IE7 and Firefox 3.0 were not rendering properly in Chrome. It's not like there was a gun to Google's head to get this completed, so why not base it on a popular rendering engine?

Check out the comic book introduction to the new browser. This is a really slick architecture, the way browsers should be built. Plus it's open source... hopefuly we won't have to fix the bugs ourselves :-O Seriously, if Google can iron out the rendering inconsistencies and make it as consistent as Firefox 2.0, they are on to a winner here. Why nobody thought of updating the existing single-process architectures before now is beyond me.

Note to Microsoft: when can we expect Silverlight and Photosynth support for Chrome? Just asking :-|

kick it on DotNetKicks.com




The Google Lat Long Blog has just announced a really cool new feature with Google Maps called "Explore this Area". According to Google, "you can explore an area by viewing photos, videos, user-created maps, and suggested local queries." This is a good example of how interesting mashups can be.

Google Maps - Explore this Area

I've often surfed around to places I've been with Google Maps and this adds a whole new level to the amount of fun you can have. After clicking on the "Explore this Area" button, click the "More" button in the map and check on wikipedia and photos. This will bring up even more photo and wiki entries. I did a search of my home town of Clonmel, County Tipperary, in Ireland. The search brought up a lot of my old haunts and some great memories... try it out!

Tags: ,

GIS | Google