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How search engine friendly

Posted on 2004-07-30
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Last Modified: 2010-04-27
Looking for opinions how my site will look to search engines, bots etc.  What keywords can you suggest and will the robots follow the links in the dropdowns or do I need to do something about this?  And any other suggestions as always warmly appreciated.
(I can give upto 500 pts for good suggestions for each person...?)
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Question by:Gary
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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 11676669
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a complex enterprise and far from an exact science.

A good place to start is to read Google's Webmaster Guidelines at http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html.

A great site to start learning SEO that Kohashi recommended in a different thread is www.highrankings.com.

Some basic concepts:

Keywords - come up with a list of keywords that people looking for a site like yours would use to search.  First, include these keywords in a meta-tag inside the <head></head> tags of your page.  Some search engines don't look at meta keywords anymore, some still do.

Example:
<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="keyword, another keyword, more keywords, you get the idea">

Make sure you don't use too many keywords, just the best ones.  Which keywords you use depends entirely on what your site is about.  Make sure your keywords appear early and often in the text on your page.  You can also use your keywords in the alt tags of your images, just make sure they are relevant.  If you throw them in just to include them, many search engines will consider them keyword spam.

Content - most search engines are biased in favor of good, relevant content.  Make sure you provide lots of it.

Links - search engines like lots of quality incoming and outging links.  By 'quality' I mean links to and from sites with information related to the information on your site and sites which have lots of traffic and good search engine position themselves.  A good idea is exchanging links with relevant websites.  Avoid using link farms - websites of little or no merit that exist merely to provide links and traffic - as most search engines (esp. Google) frown upon them.  (see www.southwestecommerce.com/library/linkfarms.htm or
www.searchengineguide.com/krause/2002/1219_kk1.html for link farm info)

You can find numerous SEO articles at www.sitepronews.com.  You can find their 2004 article archive at www.sitepronews.com/archives.html.

Some good EE threads to look at:
www.experts-exchange.com/Web/Online_Marketing/Q_21028745.html  (general SEO)
www.experts-exchange.com/Web/Online_Marketing/Q_21038192.html  (general SEO)
www.experts-exchange.com/Web/Online_Marketing/Q_21047966.html  (keywords)
www.experts-exchange.com/Web/Online_Marketing/Q_21060097.html  (link exchange)

There are lots of SEO companies for hire.  Many of their websites include lots of basic info and tips.  See www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=search+engine+optimization.

As mentioned, this is just a starting point.  The best thing to do is (1) start reading, there is a lot to learn, and (2) see what works - try things and see if it improves or hurts your ranking.  Over time, you'll start to get the hang of it.
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by:Gary
ID: 11676738
I was kinda looking for more site specific opinions, i.e. will the bots follow the links I have on the home page from the dropdowns or will I need to create virutal directories so the likes of Google will follow and find all the content. I do have a site that comes up in the top 3 for search terms so I know the very basics of what needs to be done but thats a different kind of site from this one and I'm not sure how it will look to the bots etc.
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by:humeniuk
ID: 11676863
My understanding is that it depends on what sort of dropdown you use.  User-friendliness and robot-friendliness vary widely among your options - Javascript, DHTML, Flash, etc. - so it's a good idea to have alternative navigation/link options to compliment them.  I'm sorry that this is pretty vague.  I'd be interested in more detailed info about that myself.
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by:Gary
ID: 11676961
The dropdowns aren't really dropdowns at all but tables in a layer so the links are actually a javascript onClick event with the locations being something like this...
onclick="location.href='index.asp?county=1&city=2&propertytype=5'"
So will the bots see that link and follow it?
If necessary I could easily just create normal <a href links on the pages
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by:Gary
ID: 11676997
...and just thinking is having all the links point back to index.asp a bad thing.  Should I use 'virtual' directories for the links like
/dublin/dublin city center/pubs/trendy/index.asp

Which of course still loads the same index page and I just parse out the information from the folder structure of the link, but makes google think I've got hundreds of pages on the site - which is a good thing is it not?
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Expert Comment

by:duz
ID: 11677083
GaryC123 -

>will the robots follow the links in the dropdowns or do I need to do something about this?

The links look fine in fact the pages I checked are already in the Google index.

>And any other suggestions

At the moment Google sees http://www.yourdomain.com/ and http://yourdomain.com/ as two different pages in the index.  You need to set up a 301 redirect from  http://yourdomain.com/ to http://www.yourdomain.com/

>What keywords can you suggest

In your case the keywords will be the services that you provide. This is a highly competitive area so you will be better off with a page for each keyword rather than targeting multiple keywords on one page.  So for example if the key phrase is 'Web Hosting' then <title>Web Hosting</title>, lots of text in the body with the 'web hosting' phrase and inbound links with 'web hosting' as the anchor text.

On another page you might target 'Windows Web Hosting' and in this case <title>Windows Web Hosting</title>, lots of text in the body with the 'Windows Web Hosting' phrase and inbound links with 'Windows Web Hosting' as the anchor text.

From the look of it you are going to need 20 or so pages to cover your services but it will be worth it in the long run :)

If you are writing your own copy then for your targeted keywords search on Google and look at (but do not copy) the text that others have used, this will give you some ideas of what to say.

- duz
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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 11677102
I believe most search engines will be able to follow that kind of link.  Having said that, when the design doesn't preclude it, I often include text links to important pages or sections in a footer to compliment whatever primary navigation I'm using.

One note from your example: you probably are aware that some debate remains over how well search engines index dynamic pages and url's with ?s and &s (ie. index.asp?county=1&city=2&propertytype=5).
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by:Gary
ID: 11677128
Tx duz, I'll get the 301 set up, I put a link on another site so Google would start indexing it rather than submitting seperately and I've already submitted to dmoz.  What about the folder structure thing - having one page or...
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by:Gary
ID: 11677136
humeniuk
Yeah I know, Google and few others apparently have no problem but... thats why I'd be interested on thoughts on my idead earlier about making the links point to a folder structure (that doesn't exist) that I can parse the information from.  Would make it look like a site having a lot of pages and lots of content is good?
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duz earned 500 total points
ID: 11677715
GaryC123 -

>What about the folder structure thing - having one page or...

For a site your size you want to keep all the pages in the root directory and preferably with the keyword as the file name. Something like this http://www.yourdomain.com/windows-web.asp and this http://www.yourdomain.com/windows-web-hosting.asp etc. etc.  Notice use hyphens not underscore.

For the navigation just structure it (hierarchically) for the users benefit only but for the search engines have a link on every page at the bottom to http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.asp where you can have a nice page with all your page links and the anchor text listed like this say <a href="http://www.yourdomain.com/windows-web-hosting.asp ">Windows web hosting</a>  and you can add some informative text around the links if you want to make the page tasty spider food :)

- duz


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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 11677828
I agree with the duz approach, root directory vs. folders plus sitemap.
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Author Comment

by:Gary
ID: 11677849
Ok,
Theres only about 20 pages in total of which index.asp is the only page that is loaded, the other pages are just includes based on the corporate side, all regular visitors see are index.asp followed by the querystring,  I have 12,000 properties which come under the different categories - area, type etc and this will likely grow to 100,000 next year.  Now I've been led to believe that have the folder structure with the names of areas in it - so this is the url - is good for search engines, but if as you say just have a site map page that makes it all the easier for me.
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by:Gary
ID: 11677910
So instead of index.asp maybe root the urls to say dublin.asp and then drill down within that page for all the other content, same for cork.asp, waterford.asp etc?
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Author Comment

by:Gary
ID: 11677925
btw can you recommend a good search engine submission company.
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Expert Comment

by:duz
ID: 11677934
GaryC123 -

Yes site map (if implementation is practical) wins every time Gary.

- duz





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Expert Comment

by:duz
ID: 11677981
Gary -

>btw can you recommend a good search engine submission company.

No :) :) :)

Much better to let the search engines find the site (and new pages in this case) by themselves.

Hand submit to directories of course.

- duz
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Author Comment

by:Gary
ID: 11678024
Ahhh I see ;o)
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Author Comment

by:Gary
ID: 11678048
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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 11678256
Thank you, Gary.  I posted over there.  Duz is the master, but if I helped a little, I'm glad.
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