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 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. (note how the URL exactly describes what it is!)
  3. Yahoo’s site explorer
  4. Google site search - ie google “”. 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)