Tom Whipple

On Search Engine Optimization

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 of  janeandrobot.com. 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:
  1. Google’s best practice document [pdf]
  2. janeandrobot.com/resources (note how the URL exactly describes what it is!)
  3. Yahoo’s site explorer
  4. 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.
  5. Of course, Google’s free webmaster and analytics tools. (signup required)