SEO's Relationship With Website Architecture
By Daria Goetsch of Search
Search engine optimization for today's search engine
robots requires that sites be well-designed and easy-to-
navigate. To a great degree, organic search engine
optimization is simply an extension of best practices in
web page design. SEO's relationship with web design is
a natural one. By making sites simple and easily
accessible, you are providing the easiest path for the
search engine robots to index your site, at the same
time that you are creating the optimum experience for
your human visitors.
This approach ties well into the notion of long-term
search engine marketing success. Rather than trying
to "psych out" the ever-changing search engine
algorithms, build pages that have good text and good
links. No matter what the search engines are looking for
this month or next, they will always reward good
content and simple navigation.
Search Engine Robots
Search engine robots are automated programs that go
out on the World Wide Web and visit web pages. They
read the text on a page and click through links in order
to travel from page to page. What this really means is
that they "read" or collect information from the source
code of each page. Depending on the search engine,
the robots typically pick up the title and meta
description. The robots then go on to the body text of
the page in the source code. They also pay attention
to certain tags such as headings and alt text. Search
engine robots have capabilities like first-generation
browsers at best: no scripting, no frames, no Flash.
When designing, think simple.
Search Engine Friendly Design
Creating search engine friendly design is relatively
easy. Cut out all the bells and whistles and stick to
simple architecture. Search engine robots "understand"
text on the page and hyperlinks, especially text links.
The relationship of SEO and web design makes sense
when you start with good design techniques for your
visitor. The easier the navigation and the more text on
the page, the better it is not only for the visitor but
also for the search engine robots.
Obstacles For Indexing Web Pages
Search engine robots cannot "choose" from drop down
like a human visitor. In addition, the extra code
necessary to script your pages or create those lists
can trip-up the search engine robots while they index
code means the search engine robots must go through
all this code to finally reach the text that will appear on
access to your source code by the search engine
robots, and faster loading time for your online visitors.
Some search engine robots have difficulty with
dynamically-generated pages, especially those with
URLs that contain long querystrings. Some search
engines, such as Google, index a portion of dynamically
generated pages, but not all search engines do. Frames
cause problems with indexing and are generally best
left out of design for optimum indexing. Web pages built
entirely in Flash can present another set of problems
Depth Of Directories
Search engine robots may have difficulty reaching
deeper pages in a website. Aim to keep your most
important pages no more than one or two "clicks" away
from your home page. Keep your pages closer to the
root instead of in deeply-nested subdirectories. In this
way you will be assured the optimum indexing of your
web pages. Just as your website visitor may become
lost and frustrated in too many clicks away from your
homepage, the robots may also give up after multiple
clicks away from the root of your site.
Solutions And Helpful Techniques
If there are so many problems with indexing, how will
you ever make it work?
The use of static pages is the easiest way to ensure
you will be indexed by the search engine robots. If you
must use dynamically-generated pages, there are
techniques you can use to improve the chances of
their being indexed. Use your web server's rewrite
capabilities to create simple URLs from complex ones.
Use fixed landing pages including real content, which in
turn will list the links to your dynamic pages. If you
must use querystrings in your page addresses, make
them as short as possible, and avoid the use
of "session id" values.
When using Flash to dress up your pages, use a portion
of Flash for an important message, but avoid building
entire pages using that technology. Make sure that the
search engine robots can look at all of the important
text content on your pages. You want your message to
get across to your human visitor as well. Give them
enough information about your product to interest them
in going the next step and purchasing your product.
If you must use frames, be sure to optimize the "no
frames" section of your pages. Robots can't index
framed pages, so they rely on the no frames text to
code to reload the pages as needed in the search
engine results page.
Got imagemaps and mouseover links? Make sure your
pages include text links that duplicate those images,
and always include a link back to your homepage.
Use a sitemap to present all your web pages to the
search engine robots, especially your deeper pages.
Make sure you have hyperlink text links on your page,
and a sentence or two describing each page listed,
using a few of your keyword phrases in the text.
Remember that the search engine robots "read" the
text on your web page. The more that your content is
on-topic and includes a reasonable amount of keyword-
rich text, the more the search engine robot
will "understand" what the page is about. This
information is then taken back to the search engine
database to eventually become part of the data you
see in the search engine results.
Last of all, it is very important to test your pages for
validation. Errors from programming code and malformed
html can keep the search engine robots from indexing
your web pages. Keep your coding clean.
Check List For Success
* Include plenty of good content in text on your web
* Incorporate easy to follow text navigation
* Serve up dynamically generated pages as simply as
sheets, etc.) to external files
* Add a sitemap for optimum indexing of pages
* Validate your pages using the World Wide Web
Consortium's validation tool, or other html validator
On Your Way To Indexed Pages
The best way to assure that your pages will be indexed
is to keep them simple. This type of architecture not
only helps the search engine robots, but makes it
easier for your website visitors to move throughout
your site. Don't forget to provide plenty of good
content on your pages. The search engine robots and
your visitors will reward you with return visits.
To learn more about how to work around optimization
pages, Frames and Flash, read the following articles:
Style Sheets for Search Engines
Optimizing Dynamic Pages (Part I)
Optimizing Dynamic Pages (Part II)
Optimizing Frames for
Daria Goetsch is the founder and Search Engine
Marketing Consultant for Search
Innovation, a Search Engine Promotion company
serving small businesses. Besides running her own
company, Daria is an associate of WebMama.com, an
Internet web marketing strategies company. She has
specialized in SEO since 1998, including three years as
the Search Engine Specialist for O'Reilly & Associates, a
technical book publishing company.
Well as they say, it's been a long time between drinks.
Since the last newsletter, way back in January, I
became a mother for the first time and took 6 weeks
off work to get used to the idea.
My son Jack Fitzgerald Jordan was born on February 4,
weighing 7 lb 8 ounces. In case you missed the blog
entry, you can see a picture of him here.
Things are slowly getting back to normal now and I
think I've finally learnt how to juggle motherhood with a
thriving business. The secret is to learn how to
delegate. I definitely couldn't cope if it wasn't for my
dedicated husband and business partner Jerry, my
Virtual Assistant Sarah and our various contract staff
and outsourcing partners. Business just keeps getting
busier and I don't see any sign of things slowing down,
especially with the phenomenal growth and worldwide
uptake of search marketing.
The demand for SEOs is higher than ever and that
demand is one of the driving forces behind a new
venture we are launching next month. I can't tell you
too much right now, but if you've ever wanted to learn
search engine optimization, you won't want to miss it.
Watch this space for our big announcement!
Meanwhile, you can learn a lot about DIY SEO from this
month's feature article by Daria Goetsch. Daria explains
how to set up your site architecture to ensure it is as
search-engine-friendly as possible.
Enjoy this issue and remember to visit our daily Search
Engine News Blog for the latest industry news and
Till next time - wishing you high rankings...
|Man Threatens to Spam Google|
| ||A 32 year old man was arrested by the FBI last month
after threatening to "spam" Google.
Michael Anthony Bradley faced fraud and extortion
charges in a San Jose court after allegedly attempting
to extort USD 100,000 from the popular search engine
Bradley had developed software that created false
clicks on Google AdWords advertisements. Google pays
webmasters a certain amount per click for displaying
AdWords advertisements on their sites via a program
called AdSense and Bradley had already used his
software to defraud the program by generating
thousands of dollars for himself via false clicks.
In early March, Bradley approached Google staff
demanding a pay-off of USD 100,000 to prevent him
from releasing his software to the public, threatening to
sell the software to the "top 100 spammers" if they
didn't meet his demands. Senior staff from Google
informed federal officials and arranged a meeting with
Bradley on March 10 which was secretly videotaped.
During the meeting, Bradley repeatedly asked "where's
my check?" and offered his paid services to Google to
help them detect falsified clicks. When he didn't hear
back from Google following the meeting, Bradley sent
another email threatening to launch the software the
following week unless he was paid off. Federal agents
issued a warrant for his arrest shortly afterward.
Bradley was ordered to avoid any future contact with
Google and released on a bond of USD 50,000. Another
condition of his release was that he not use a
|Yahoo Seeks Companions|
| ||Yahoo has launched a BETA version of their answer to
the Google Toolbar: The Yahoo
The toolbar features a pop-up blocker and a site
popularity indicator called Web Rank which measures
the popularity of websites via data sent to Yahoo from
users of the toolbar (similar to Alexa). It also provides
the ability to bookmark and store favorite web site
The toolbar also helps Yahoo to discover new web sites
faster and incorporate those sites into their database
via their site crawler.
|Google Local Search Goes BETA|
| ||In response to Yahoo's SmartView mapping launch last
month (see story below), Google has taken their Local Search
tool out of the laboratory and into BETA testing.
Google Local Search allows users to search for regional
information such as business names, addresses and
related web pages. The results are pulled from data
supplied by third parties such as the Yellow Pages and
regional business listings and displayed in columns.
Clicking on a business listing displays more detailed
information on that business, including a map, driving
directions and related web pages.
Local Search has also been integrated into the main
Google search. Enter a regionally specific search query
into Google and you'll now see three listings from Local
Search with a link to additional matches. This will no
doubt have implications for search engine marketers as
the race to optimize web pages for regionally specific
search keywords intensifies.
While paid-search advertising is not yet in place on
Google Local Search, the company has plans to launch
this in the near future. Such a move is expected to
threaten the market of traditional offline local
advertising giants like the Yellow Pages and regional
|Ask Jeeves Gets Excited|
| ||Search firm Ask Jeeves has announced the acquisition
of Interactive Search Holdings, the owners of the
Excite Network of web sites.
The purchase includes the popular brands My Way, My
Search, My Web Search, iWon, Excite and the
MaxOnline advertising network. Under the terms of the
agreement, Ask Jeeves will issue 9.3 million shares of
common stock and options and pay $150 million in
cash, reflecting a total price of USD 343 million. In
addition, Ask Jeeves may pay up to another USD 17.5
million in cash based on various factors including
Interactive Search Holdings' operating performance.
"The acquisition of Interactive Search Holdings will be
an important step in Ask Jeeves' growth strategy. This
acquisition will double our market share, enhance our
ability to compete in the fast-growing search market,
and is expected to increase the financial returns to our
shareholders," said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Ask
Following the acquisition, it is expected that Ask
Jeeves' share of the search market should climb to
about 7 percent from its existing position of 3.1
|Google Gets Personal|
| ||Google has launched a new look within their
main search screen and integrated a BETA version of
their long-awaited personalized search feature for
searchers to play with. Gone are the familiar tabs on
the Google home page, replaced by text links for image
search, newsgroups and news search, together with a
new link direct to Froogle search (Google's own
shopping search engine).
Google Labs now features a link to their Personalized
Search prototype where you can get personalized
search results based on your preferences. To use
Personalized Search, you must first create a user
profile of your interests. Then when you conduct a
search, results directly relating to your interests are
denoted with a small Google Labs image. You can
influence the number of personalized results you see
via a sliding scale at the top of the results.
Google is the first major search engine to offer any
form of search personalization. The launch is the latest
in a series of moves by the search giant to improve
relevancy and defend their market leadership against
up and coming rivals.
|Yahoo Adds Mapping Feature to Improve Search|
| ||Yahoo has introduced a new mapping feature called
SmartView as a way for consumers to search for
local content on the Web in an interactive and visual
SmartView enables users to pinpoint physical premises
such as restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, parks,
ATMs and post offices via the Yahoo site. The Yahoo
Map display then customizes to the searcher's chosen
Once displayed, the map features links to
further information such as address and phone number,
pricing, user ratings (for hotels), website address and
access to driving directions.
By typing a physical address directly into Yahoo
Search, users can retrieve a direct map display in their
results which then has a link to the SmartView option.
The local points of interest and attractions displayed in
SmartView come from content in Yahoo's network of
sites such as Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Yellow Pages,
Yahoo! Travel and Yahoo! Movies.
The technology is currently limited to locations within
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