Posts Tagged ‘web strategy’

SEO Is Not A Web Strategy

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

John Pozadzides posted an article on Lorelle VanFossen’s blog this morning about SEO practices and blogging. In that post he made reference to the ongoing “war of words” between those who think SEO is dead and those who believe SEO is more important than ever. John states that the truth is somewhere in the middle. He then goes on to outline some of the “common sense” SEO techniques that have other benefits as well. It’s a good list, you should go read it.

The point of this post, however, is not simply echo John’s SEO tips. Rather, I want to make the point that SEO, like anything else, does not exist in a vacuum. It is not, in and of itself, a web strategy.

The hardest thing about a comprehensive web strategy is managing the tradeoffs and compromises between the various components of the strategy itself. One of these components should always be SEO – but there are others: (in no particular order) infrastructure, traffic acquisition (search marketing), audience engagement, development cost, usability, accessibility, etc.

Part of the problem that the SEO industry faces is that it is a specialist industry. SEO consultants are not paid to take the entire strategy in consideration. Maximize the rank. This is also true, of course, for accessibility consultants and infrastructure providers. It just happens that SEO catches the flack because of the intense focus on it for the last few years.

The Strategy:

For any inter/intra/extranet web project, make sure there is someone whose job it is to develop the overall web strategy. That person must be prepared to manage the advice of the various specialists (SEO, usability, infrastructure, etc.) that will insist that their particular area if expertise will make or break the project. That person must also accept that one of them might be right.

Index first, rank later!

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Part of any comprehensive web strategy is a healthy dose of SEO considerations. There are two major components to SEO – yet one of them is often ignored or an afterthought.

Many SEO consultants and pundits will chatter on incessantly about how to improve your search engine rankings. Thousands of dollars are spent on what are largely single-digit incremental improvements in rankings. Improving your site’s rankings, however, is not nearly as important as making each and every possible page of your site is in the index – and that nothing is in the index that shouldn’t be. It may seem basic, but it’s often overlooked that a page can’t rank unless it’s in the index.

There are two basic approaches to making sure that Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. can find every page on your site. First is a solid and comprehensive navigation architecture with all of appropriate links. A crawler should be able to navigate to your site the same way that your visitors do. In cases where this isn’t possible (search results, mashups, form submission), it’s advisable to have an XML sitemap that conforms to the spec agreed upon by the major engines. This sitemap gives the search engine bots direct access to the full list of available pages on your site. Even if there are tens of thousands of dynamically generated pages possible on your site, these can be included in the sitemap.xml file, provided each has a unique URL.

The Strategy:

There are no ‘silver-bullet’ SEO techniques that will take you from page 10 to the top of page 1… but if your pages are not in the index, they’ll never rank at all.