Tag: web development

Good SEO basics for any web site

The article has been edited a bit. Some obvious (‘n glaring to this ex-copy editor) grammar faults. Required an edit.

I work a lot with WordPress on this blog and when developing websites for clients making SEO (search engine optimization) an important part of the process. New websites need to be ranked quickly especially for companies and small businesses without the brand name recognition or a Nike, Levis or Gap. When you look for the big guys their brand name ending with a dot com gets you there quickly. Mostly. But us minnows need all the help we can get to (a) get in and (b) get a position as high as we can.

Isn’t good SEO complicated?

stock image of remodelled keyboard
custom SEO keyboards

I tell my clients that good SEO ain’t rocket science. Or quantum mechanics. But getting it right the first time is just as important as mistakes do more harm than good. However like all science theories, SEO has thousands of opinions. Many patently false. Like the importance of links. From experience the only links that really work is where links on your website that point to another website need to have a reciprocal link back.My previous company, Indax, linked to client sites via its online portfolio. Each entry included a reciprocal link back to Indax via the web developer credit.

But there plenty of developers who believe link farms are the way to boost rankings. These farms work in the short term. But if your website is blacklisted by a search engine, believe me, the route back in is really hard. Grovelling is the least of your worries.

My definitive starter comes from Google. But each ‘engine has its own. Microsoft’s Bing has its own guidelines; except I couldn’t find an official and public content on Bing’s own site. There are third-party sites with Bing-specific tips and tricks. Do be careful though as some tipsters are actually selling SEO services. I’m sure there’s a definitive guides for Yahoo too. But who uses Yahoo any more?

eMusings’ rules for good SEO structure

  • Make sure your website code (aka its HTML programming) is web-standards compliant. If you’re unsure, the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3.org) – the web standards body – offers a free online validator.
  • Make sure your post/page has a descriptive title that explains what the focus content is about. Your page title can be different from the page name (like in this post as I’m testing what makes for good SEO)
  • Just because engines like Google ignore keyword tags doesn’t mean you don’t add a few relevant (keywords) to both website in general and page/post in focus as Bing and Yahoo still index keyword tags (I think)
  • Include a short, sweet and focused meta description – the two-line descriptor displayed under your URL in search results

Doing the Open Directory dance

Including your website in the Open Directory definitely improves a website’s page rank; especially on Yahoo and Bing. But submitting your URL comes much later. First you have to find the most important (aka primary) category you want to be found under. Then you prepare your submission request. Then you wait until a human editor (not so thick on the ground any more) reviews your request before your website actually appears in the Directory. Be patient: there will be be many false starts before you succeed. eMusings has been online for over a decade but it took me 2 years of repeat submissions before my persistence paid off!

Other things we forget

Don’t forget to submit your URL to the Big Three engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing). This is a step so simple and yet most business owners forget building it doesn’t mean anyone will come. Don’t forget tools like Google Webmaster (includes Sitemaps) and Google Analytics as well as similar services offered by other search engines. It also helps to also publicize via social media like Facebook and Twitter (good reason to tweet).

Remember this post is not THE word on SEO. It’s part of a test I’m running to see if I can tweak the way I post to improve my website rankings 🙂

And do be careful of Google AdWords (I haven’t tried any other ad services as I find them distracting). When I used Adwords I often included content critical of Google. I was then politely warned to cease and desist forthwith. Except AdWords lost to my opinions.

 

Improving the WordPress Plugin Directory

As someone who’s deployed WordPress from its B2 days a decade ago, I feel somewhat qualified to list what I love and loathe about the product. I’d be eminently qualified had I developed a plugin or theme used by thousands; but my brain doesn’t quite work that way. But lets not bore you with its mapping 🙂

As someone who deploys WordPress to clients, as well as a personal blog (this one, LOL), I like the changes made to the WordPress.org Plugin Directory where you can tell if a developer is invested in their plugin by adding a placeholder image, description, screenshots, FAQ and responds to support requests. I also like that the directory only included plugins that pass WordPress.org tests. The directory managers also include a warning if a plugin hasn’t seen updates for a year plus.

What we really need in the Plugin Directory is:

  • Ability to exclude plugins rated for a specific WordPressversion; AND
  • Ability to exclude plugins that haven’t been updated for 6/12/15/18/24 or more months ( months is easier than years); AND
  • Ability to exclude free feature-limited plugins; AND
  • sort search results by Relevance AND/OR Rating AND/OR Popularity (download count) AND/OR Newness

Plugin Directory Search sucks compared to the search within self-hosted WordPress that’s enhanced via free search plugins like

However searching for plugins in the Directory sucks. You can search by relevance (the default) but woe betide you if you click on any of the other search options: Newest, Most Popular, Highest Rated as these are all OR statements. The result: plugins ordered by one of these terms instead of Relevance plus one of these terms. The Directory also needs to add a more prominent and visual indicator for plugins where the free version is limited to only the most basic features with usable features limited to the paid version  I feel plugin authors only offer free versions of their premium plugins to enhance their search rank. It’s a disservice to the WordPress.org community to have to separate this chaff from the free wheat.

 

Mozilla Firefox now supports responsive website testing

Firefox 19 Beta Responsive View
Responsive View feature Firefox 19 Beta

While testing the Firefox Nightly (v16) Beta I learned you can test websites for responsiveness (aka mobile and tablet compatibility) from within Firefox. Until now I mostly used the hosted QuirkTools Screenfly application.

You can view a specific site in variety of views that cover the most common mobile, tablet and notebook screen display sizes. You can also rotate the display to landscape view (supported by several mobile/tablet devices). You can also set a custom size by dragging the bottom right window edge. (more…)