Search engine optimization (SEO) is important. (Duh!) But, being a developer I never spent much time thinking about these things. However, with my new ventures I am now in a position to actually care about search results.
To that end, on Wednesday I attended a talk/networking event at Yahoo’s Santa Monica office given by Vanessa Fox
. The discussion was informal, yet informative even for one who has just begun to be interested in SEO. I learned several things, many of which are available elsewhere on the web, but I will repeat them here in no particular order:
- The guiding principle of SEO is similar to that of journalism: For each page, imagine that the user has just landed there and not seen any other pages of the site.
- The consensus amongst the group was that the only search engine that matters is Google. Yahoo is nearly irrelevant. Bing/Microsoft does not yet have their act together.
- The most important features of a page are url, <title>, <h1>, and meta description. URLs should be vaguely descriptive (i.e. not something like store?prodid=12)
- Text should be unique (especially the text in the above features).
- Ads are bad.
And, a few resources that I have found in the past few days:
- Google’s best practice document [pdf]
- janeandrobot.com/resources (note how the URL exactly describes what it is!)
- Yahoo’s site explorer
- Google site search - ie google “site:yourdomain.com”. Are you happy with the way things look in the result? If not, edit the meta description.
- Of course, Google’s free webmaster and analytics tools. (signup required)