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Amplify Interactive’s notes from SMX Advanced Seattle 2008

This session dealt with some of the common web site development issues that impact search engine crawling & indexing of your site, which can have a big impact on your site’s presence & ranking in search engines.

Amplify Interactive audits every single client web site for these issues when performing site audits during our research & recommendations phase. We also educate the developers & designers that our clients work with on these issues when they are developing or redesigning client sites.

Nathan Buggia – Microsoft

Some things to pay attention to for your site:

  • Load times – the faster your pages load, the more of your site that a search engine will crawl
  • All flash sites and using cloaking as a workaround = bad (he used an example from Nike, who apparently does a lot of this)

Sharad Verma – Yahoo

Web site development & search engine considerations

  • Search engines don’t speak javascript, turn off JS in browser & navigate your site to look for issues (I give this tip in every SEO speaking session that I do)
  • All flash/video = bad; text & links = better
  • Dynamic urls – lead to duplicate content & splits link juice, less likely to be crawled & indexed
  • 301 redirect dynamic to static, limit the number of paramaters

Use Yahoo Site Explorer & other search engine webmaster tools

  • Rewrite dynamic urls through yahoo site explorer
  • Tell yahoo about dynamic urls & remove session id’s etc
  • We’ll aggregate link weights

Duplicate content

  • Less effective crawl
  • Search engines are less likely to extract links…
  • Solve by using 301 or disallow duplicate content via robots.txt

Best practices

  • Flatten folder structure – deeper content (meaning, multiple directories in your URLs) is less likely to be indexed
  • Redirect old pages
  • Use keywords in urls
  • Use sub domains ONLY when appropriate
  • Remove file extension from URL if you can (.asp, .html, etc)
  • Use robots.txt exclusion to eliminate content from indexing – see http://www.ysearchblog.com/archives/000587.htm

Maile Ohye – Google

Develop a crawlable architecture for rich media

  • Build on html, then add ajax & flash to enhance html version of site
  • Alternate versions aren’t a good alternative, splits link juice & user experience (can’t share the same thing etc)
  • YouTube is a good example of progressive enhancement: they put one “thing” (video) on each page, the site navigation is in html, they put descriptive html content next to rich media
  • Consider sIFR for flash: text matches content seen by enabled users, accessible to screen readers and search engines (see Google Webmaster blog “Best uses of flash” & Google Webmaster Central help “Working with flash…”)
  • Alternate for AJAX: consider Hijax for AJAX (see Google Webmaster blog “A spider’s view of Web 2.0” & Google Webmaster Central help “Working with AJAX enhanced sites“)

Tips to improve the indexing of your site

  • Set preferred domain to www or non-www, then 301 redirect to the other
  • Reduce duplicate content by keeping URLs clean: remove unnecessary paramaters, internally link to your preferred version, store visitor information in cookies rather than session id’s
  • Planning server downtime for maintenance? Make sure you serve a 503 not a 404

Related Links & Coverage

SMX on Twitter
Search Engine Roundtable recap

Ben Lloyd

About Ben Lloyd

Ben Lloyd serves as Principal at Add3 and manages the agency’s Portland office.  Ben got his start in SEM way back in 1999 – when there was like, 15 search engines and Google was barely a thing. Prior to Add3, Ben had founded Amplify Interactive in 2003 (which was acquired by Add3 in 2013), and hasn’t looked back since. Ben likes lots of stuff like golf, pinball, food(ie), booze/beer/wine – in that order, etc. Mostly – he likes doing that stuff with his friends. Ben is also co-founder of SEMpdx. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn

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