Search Engine Optimisation - Have you been crawled over?

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Valentine's Day on 2011 was a little different. I was invited to present a talk on the topic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to a group of students from Tunku Abdul Rahman College (Kuala Lumpur). …

Valentine's Day on 2011 was a little different. I was invited to present a talk on the topic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to a group of students from Tunku Abdul Rahman College (Kuala Lumpur). Here are my slides on the love and hate between a search engine and a website.

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  • 1. Search Engine OptimisationHave you been crawled over?Marshal E. Yung, Chief Software ArchitectSynapses Systems Sdn Bhd
  • 2. Overview● Learning from the Past ● Optimisation through Design● SEO – The Whole Idea ● Search Engine Submissions● Getting Indexed ● SEO Tools● Optimisation through Meta Tags ● Black Hat SEO● Optimisation through Contents ● In a Nutshell
  • 3. Learning from the PastA little History Lesson
  • 4. Since the mid 90s...● SEO was introduced in 1997● ALIWEB ● First search engine ● Site ranking depends solely on meta data ● Failed due to meta data abuse; eventually inaccurate site ranking● Larry Page & Sergey Brin introduced PageRank ● Site ranking based on the probability of a site being discovered by a web user through inbound links ● Later enhanced to tackle content and link spamming
  • 5. Search Engine OptimisationThe Whole Idea
  • 6. SEO – The Whole Idea● Optimise contents: ● Images – search engines can index images too ● Texts – heading tags and SEO copywriters● Titles, descriptions, contents, and links● Visibility and ranking: website, web page● Organic search results● What about paid results? ● Usually very expensive, may not necessary work ● Does not improve page ranking
  • 7. On-Page Factors● <title> tag● Meta description● Heading tags● Content optimisations● Hyperlinks
  • 8. Off-Page Factors● Inbound links! ● Who are linking to your sites? ● Make use of comments in community forums, blogs, etc.● Competition ● What are you competition doing that may affect your ranking?● User defined ranking ● Is your website the favourite among all?● Advertising ● Paid advertising also creates inbound links
  • 9. Getting IndexedSpiders, Crawlers, Bots
  • 10. Spiders, Web-bots, Crawlers, etc.● Spiders, web-bots, crawlers, bots ● They are all the same thing ● Computer programmes that browses the internet for website hyperlinks ● Based on complex algorithms for website browsing
  • 11. Web Crawling Concept● Visits a list of URLs (seeds)● Identifies hyperlinks on seeds page and add them to the URL queue (crawl frontier)● URLs from the frontier are visited recursively according to a set of policies to identify more hyperlinks● Create copies of visited pages to be indexed by the search engine
  • 12. Web Crawling Concept● Download only partial part of the web page● Must oblige to web crawling policies: ● Selection policy: which page to download ● Revisit policy: only visit updated web pages ● Politeness policy: do not overload websites ● Parallelisation policy: coordination of distributed crawlers
  • 13. Web Crawler Architecture Internet Web pages Downloader and Scheduler Parser DB URL and Indexes Storage Queue
  • 14. Optimisation through Meta TagsKeywords and Descriptions
  • 15. Keywords – ABANDONED!● Since 2002, most (if not all) major search engines no longer use keywords for site ranking ● Inaccurate ● Misleading ● Keyword stuffing
  • 16. Descriptions● Use description attribute in <meta> tag to summarise page contents ● Place within the <head></head> section ● Description shows up in search results ● Helps users to easily understand page contents ● Use unique description to describe different pages ● Preferably to have less than 150 characters
  • 17. Optimisation through ContentsContent is King!
  • 18. The Title Says it All● Use <title> tags to indicate page titles: ● Place it within the <head></head> section ● Each web page should have a unique title ● Title tags are what is shown in search results ● Meaningful page title attracts and helps users in finding your website
  • 19. Content is King!● All contents should be optimised, including: ● Textual contents; and ● Graphical contents● Use appropriate heading tags in page contents: ● <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5>, <h6> ● Search engine loves heading tags● Use text instead of images as headings ● It works better with search results ● Crawlers do not recognise texts within images
  • 20. Content is King!● Body contents are where search engines collect and index words seen by web crawlers● Create optimised body contents by: 1.Identifying the gist, objective, and message of your body content 2.Create a list of keywords representing these gist, objectives, and messages. 3.Construct sentences and paragraphs with these keywords● Or, you may hire professional help from an SEO copywriter
  • 21. Optimising Content Keywords● Good keywords have low competitions and high probabilities● Low competition keywords: ● Keywords less likely used on other websites similar to yours● High probability keywords: ● Keywords with very high likelihood to be used by users as the search word● Use phrases instead of single words as keywords
  • 22. Optimising Image Contents● Web crawlers can see images● Images can be indexed by search engines ● Image file name ● Image description● Use the alt attributes in <img> tags to describe the image ● <img src=”images/seo_book.png” alt=”SEO in a Nutshell” />● Use meaningful file names for images● Image search engine is getting popular and advancing
  • 23. Optimisation through DesignCode Base Tweaking
  • 24. Friendly URLs● Avoid using URL with parameters ● www.example.com/index.php?year=2011&month=1&day=20● Use friendly URL ● www.example.com/2011/1/20 ● More meaningful and easier for users to remember and understand ● Easier and faster for web crawlers to identify contents
  • 25. Site Structure● Simplify directory structure● Deep sub-directories slow down web crawling● Meaningful file names
  • 26. Make it Easy for Crawlers● Use external CSS files● Use external JavaScript files ● Place lengthy JavaScript codes at the end of the document● Prioritise web pages with rel=”canonical” attribute in <link> tag● Reduce line of codes ● Simplify HTML coding with <div> tags over <table> tags when possible ● Shorter LOC reduces crawling and page loading time ● NOTE: Reduce LOC but dont disregard good coding standards
  • 27. Search Engine SubmissionsGoogle, Yahoo!, Microsoft Bing
  • 28. Kick-Start● Search engine submission ● First step to launching website ● Fastest way to introduce website to search engine ● Speed of indexing and ranking depends on quality of content optimisation● Free search engine submissions ● Google ● Yahoo! ● Microsoft Bing● Search engines also accept XML based site-map definition to speed up website crawling ● code.google.com/p/sitemap-generators/wiki/SitemapGenerators ● www.sitemaps.org
  • 29. Sample XML Sitemap<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"> <url> <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc> <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod> <changefreq>monthly</changefreq> <priority>0.8</priority> </url> <url> <loc>http://www.example.com/catalog?item=12&amp;desc=vacation_hawaii</loc> <changefreq>weekly</changefreq> </url> <url> <loc>http://www.example.com/catalog?item=73&amp;desc=vacation_new_zealand</loc> <lastmod>2004-12-23</lastmod> <changefreq>weekly</changefreq> </url></urlset>
  • 30. Sample XML Sitemap<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9" xmlns:image="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap-image/1.1" xmlns:video="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap-video/1.1"> <url> <loc>http://www.example.com/foo.html</loc> <image:image> <image:loc>http://example.com/image.jpg</image:loc> </image:image> <video:video> <video:content_loc>http://www.example.com/video123.flv</video:content_loc> <video:player_loc allow_embed="yes" autoplay="ap=1">http://www.example.com/videoplayer.swf?video=123</video:player_loc> <video:thumbnail_loc>http://www.example.com/thumbs/123.jpg</video:thumbnail_loc> <video:title>Grilling steaks for summer</video:title> <video:description>Get perfectly done steaks every time</video:description> </video:video> </url></urlset>
  • 31. SEO ToolsSearch Engines Little Helper
  • 32. Google● Site submissions ● www.google.com/addurl/● Google Webmaster Tools ● Collection of website analysis and SEO tools by Google ● Website SEO management tools for web masters ● Site and sitemap submissions ● www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
  • 33. Google● Google Analytics ● Website SEO performance reporting ● www.google.com/analytics● Google Website Optimizer ● Create experiments to gauge existing SEO strategy effectiveness ● www.google.com/websiteoptimizer
  • 34. Yahoo! and Microsoft● Yahoo! Site Explorer ● Site and feed submissions● Microsoft Web SEO Toolkit ● Free install base SEO toolkit ● Analyse SEO strategy performance ● www.microsoft.com/web/seo/
  • 35. Yahoo! and Microsoft● Microsoft Bing Webmaster Tools ● Site and sitemap submissions ● SEO performance analysis ● Requires Microsoft Silverlight ● www.bing.com/toolbox/webmasters/● Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance ● Microsoft provides content listings ● Yahoo! improves on search engine capabilities ● Worldwide content transition completes by early 2012
  • 36. Submit to which search engine?Google, Yahoo!, or Microsoft Bing a little foresight... and disclaimer
  • 37. Black Hat SEOWelcome to the dark side of SEO
  • 38. Overview● Unethical SEO methods to achieve high page ranking● Search engines have policies to identify websites using Black Hat SEO methods● Websites using Black Hat SEO methods can be blacklisted by search engines● List of blacklisted websites are shared among search engines
  • 39. Taboos!● Spamdexing ● Manipulates search engine indexes with irrelevant and inconsistent keywords or phrases● Keyword stuffing ● Overusing keywords in page contents, alt attributes, and meta tags ● Repetitive keywords ● Sometimes considered as a type of spamdexing method
  • 40. Taboos!● Hidden texts ● Hiding texts behind images ● Transparent font colours ● Setting font colours similar to background colours ● Normally achieved using CSS● Doorway and cloaked pages ● Spamming search engine indexes with inaccurate information ● Contents presented to the user is different from contents indexed by search engines ● Redirects the user to another website when the page is visited
  • 41. Taboos!● Link farming ● A group of websites created merely to contain hyperlinks to each other ● Link farming sites normally generate links using a computer programme ● Affiliate programmes and link exchanges are not considered as link farming● Comment spamming ● Posting of irrelevant comments with hyperlinks in blogs and community forums ● Can be easily prevented by users – Captcha
  • 42. In a NutshellBest Practices?
  • 43. Guidelines...● Avoid any Black Hat SEO methods● Put yourself in the users shoes● Consider a wide variety of user experiences● Perform website optimisation for human rather than search engines – its more effective● Submit your website and sitemap to search engines● Paid ranking rarely works and normally avoided by users● Promote your site (URL) in your on-line communities in an ethical manner – good way to generate inbound links● Keep website updated and fresh all the time
  • 44. More Guidelines...● Search engines cannot index rich media contents● Use texts with heading tags – not images● Meaningful file names – scripts and image files● Optimise website coding for web crawlers – shorter LOC● Always use keywords and phrases in alt attributes
  • 45. SEO Life-Cycle?
  • 46. Thank You and Happy Valentines DayQuestions?Slides available at:SituationalReasoning.net, SlideShare.net, Scribd.com