Rob Garner - SEO Best Practices   Rackspace Customer Event, October 2006
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Rob Garner - SEO Best Practices Rackspace Customer Event, October 2006

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This was an overview of basic search optimization principles, SEO copywriting practices, and website redesign strategies. Presented to an audience of about 70 Rackspace web hosting customers at their ...

This was an overview of basic search optimization principles, SEO copywriting practices, and website redesign strategies. Presented to an audience of about 70 Rackspace web hosting customers at their annual Customer Event, in San Antonio, TX.

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  • This picture illustrates a relational link structure toward ad-tech.com. Reveals links to sites, and also theme of links, but most importantly it shows the complexity of existing link structures in a legacy site. Understanding your site’s history and link value must be considered in a redesign.
  • These are models of a limited number of ad-tech.com link partners. Actual direct links number in the tens of thousands.

Rob Garner - SEO Best Practices   Rackspace Customer Event, October 2006 Rob Garner - SEO Best Practices Rackspace Customer Event, October 2006 Presentation Transcript

  • Natural Search Optimization Best Practices October 12, 2006
    • Origin in SEO (natural search optimization)
    • > Deep and proven experience in the fastest growing area of search: natural search
      • > Proprietary tools and technologies that have been continually honed since inception
    • Largest Independent search marketing firm
      • > 225 employees, 6 offices (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, New York, San Francisco and Scottsdale)
    • Leading Brands client base
      • > 25 of Fortune 500 are clients
    • Industry leadership in search
      • > “Agency of the Year: Best Search” – ( OMMA, 2005)
    About iCrossing 2
  • World Class Client-Base 16
  • Contents
    • A few quick stats
    • URL strategy
    • Natural search 101
    • > Obstacles to avoid
    • > Building effective keywords
    • > Linking best practices
    • > Web design best practices
    • > Web development practices
  • A Shift in Media Consumption
      • Time spent with one the internet has surpassed time spent
      • with any other
      • Advertisers are spending the least amount of ad spend, missing the opportunity
  • Outlook: Website and Search Spending
    • Site redesign and maintenance, and search are the top priorities for marketers in 2006
  • Outlook: Website and Search Spending
    • Marketers plan for “substantial increases in spending for redesign and search
  • URL Strategy in a Web Site Redesign
    • Your URLs are valuable.
    • They are the keys to your online kingdom.
  • Overview – URL Strategy
    • Defining the elements of URL Equity
    • > What makes it valuable
    • Understanding the impact of a site redesign
    • > How important it is to get it right
    • Preserving your URL Equity
    • > What to do to protect your valuable search investment
    • Serves as a gateway for many traffic forms
      • > Bookmarks, search, website traffic, etc.
    • Contains years of inbound link buildup
      • > Home page
      • > Deep site linkage
    • References your search engine indexing history
    • Represents prior investments in search
      • > Internal search programs
      • > Retained an agency or consultant
    Defining the elements of URL equity The URL is the axis point for ALL of the traffic to your site .
    • Link Types
    • > Press releases / Buzz
    • > Blog/news link references
    • > Authority site links
    • > Quality directory links
    • > Links from article syndication
    • > Internal site links
    • > Etc.
    Defining the elements of URL equity www.yourdomain.com/yourpage.html
    • Engines: Link Factors
    • > Appearance dates of new links
    • > Natural patterns of development.
    • > Quality of site sending link
    • > Rate at which sites appear
    • and/or disappear
    • > Etc.
        • Source: Google Patent Application # 20050071741
    URLs Converted to Bookmarks > Domain > Deep internal URLs
  • Demonstrates the complexity and intricacy of legacy link structure rackspace.com link model 797,000 total Defining the elements of URL equity
  • Defining the elements of URL equity
      • Deep link model demonstrates only a limited number of ad-tech link partners.
    “ Networks” “ Index” “ Solutions” rackspace.com deep link model 676,000 links to internal pages .php backlinks
  • Now what would happen if Rackspace were to redesign their site and rename their URLs? (without preserving equity)
  • Understanding the impact of a site redesign Link traffic, bookmark traffic and search traffic would all be lost. Gone Gone Gone rackspace-newdomain.com deep link model established 2006 (hypothetically)
    • Spiders can’t find new pages as quickly
    • Engines can’t apply pre-existing backlink history
    • Visitors can’t find what they are looking for
    • Bookmarks rendered useless
    • Bandwidth wasted
    • Traffic is gone
    • Conversions and sales are lost
    Impact and cost to marketer when URLs change
  • C A S E S T U D Y Site relaunch on renamed URLs, with no redirection plan Site relaunched with new URLs in mid-month 404 errors spiked, and the site never fully recovered Understanding the impact of a site redesign
  • So preserve your URL equity as if your brand (and your job) depend upon it.
  • Now this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever redesign your site or rename your URLs, Just ask the right questions before you start
    • Questions your web and marketing team should ask before starting a redesign:
    1. How can I include URL architecture in the business and technical requirements? Understanding the impact of a site redesign
    • Questions your web and marketing team should ask before starting a redesign:
    2. How much URL equity is established in my current site structure? 1. How can I include URL architecture in the business and technical requirements? Understanding the impact of a site redesign
    • Questions your web and marketing team should ask before starting a redesign:
    2. How much URL equity is established in my current site structure? 3. How can we preserve the existing URL structure? 1. How can I include URL architecture in the business and technical requirements? Understanding the impact of a site redesign
    • Consider all options for maintaining existing URL structure
    • Use proper redirection techniques for URLs that must change
    • > Utilize 301 redirects for pages that are permanently moved
    • Use sustainable URL naming conventions when possible > Ideally, these URL names should never change > http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI.html
    Preserving your URL investment
    • Assess quality of inbound home page and deep site links
        • > Authority sites? .Gov’s, .Edu’s? $299 Y! Dir links?
    • Assess the age and history of domain and URLs
        • > Site’s with a positive URL history can be at a distinct advantage
    • Estimate URL liabilities
    • Read log files
    • > Are internal pages pulling high volume search traffic?
    • > Why are these pages performing well?
    • > Does the long tail of the site refer substantial traffic?
    • Run a Deep Link Ratio report
    Preserving your URL investment
    • Use the Deep Link Ratio formula to determine the ratio of internal site linkage beyond the home page:
    • Yahoo command:
    • linkdomain:rackspace.com -site:rackspace.com -link:http://www. rackspace.com -link:http://rackspace.com
    Number of deep links ------------------------------------------- = DLR Number of links pointing at site Preserving your URL investment
  • Preserving your URL investment “ Networks” “ Index” “ Solutions” rackspace.com deep linking ratio = 85% 676,000 ---------- = 0.85 % 797,000
  • Natural Search 101 Obstacles to avoid Building effective keywords Linking best practices Copywriting Design/development best practices
  • Obstacles to avoid Obstacles to avoid Building effective keywords Linking best practices Copywriting Design/development best practices
  • Broken Links
    • Spiders cannot index content that is not there
    • Regularly monitor site
    • Create custom 404 error page
    • Use 301 redirects
  • Types Of Redirection To Avoid
    • 302 Temporary
      • > Spiders see content as temporary
      • > Does not apply link popularity
    • Meta Refresh and JavaScript redirects
      • > Spiders do not follow
      • > Use 301 redirects instead
    JavaScript Redirect META Refresh Redirect
  • Extensive On-Page Scripting
    • Spiders read top to bottom and process the first 100K of content
    • Keep relevant content close to the top of the page
    • Put JavaScript and CSS in separate external files (.js/.css)
  • JavaScript or Flash Navigation
    • Spiders* cannot follow JavaScript links or links within Flash file
    • > Use text links where possible
    • > Setup sitemap to all relevant content (category/sub-category)
    • *Google can crawl JavaScript and Flash links, however it is problematic- text links should be used whenever possible
  • Frames
    • While all spiders can crawl frames, they cannot associate content within individual frames with others
    • > Remove frameset and place content on separate pages
    • > Or, create links from primary frame to frameset content
  • Dynamic URLs
    • Spiders have a hard time indexing dynamically generated pages
    • > Keep name-value pairs to 2 or less
    • > Consider rewriting URLs
  • Deep Folder Structure
    • Spiders may not index content multiple levels deep. Link popularity is also lost
    • > Limit the # of sub-directories
    • > Consider rewriting URLs with mod_rewrite or similar
  • Session IDs
    • Spiders cannot completely index URLs with “ID=”
    • These pages appear as different pages each crawl
    • > Content not fully indexed
    • Create a User-Agent detection script
      • > Remove ID for spiders
  • Pop-ups
    • Spiders cannot read content in JavaScript pop-ups
    • > Keep relevant content out of pop-ups
    • > Put pop-up content on static HTML pages and link to them in a _blank or _parent window
  • Hiding Content Behind HTTPS
    • Spiders have difficulty accessing pages behind secure socket layer (SSL) – https://
    • > Keep non-sensitive content outside of SSL - http://
  • Requiring User Actions to Proceed
    • Spiders cannot fill-out forms
    • > Content will not get indexed
    • Create a User-Agent detection script
    • > Allow spiders in, require users to enter info
  • Restrictive Robots.txt File
    • Code within robots.txt file should not block spiders from relevant content
    • > Disallow access to sensitive content, allow access to all other content
  • Building effective keyword lists Obstacles to avoid Building effective keywords Linking best practices Copywriting Design/development best practices
  • Ask the Right Questions
    • How would your customer search for your product or service, and what keywords might they use?
    • What are your product/services:
      • > Features?
      • > Uses?
      • > Benefits?
    • Does your customer search by using geographic reference?
      • > Local - Pet stores in Scottsdale, 85254
      • > Regional – Realtors in Texas
      • > International – Hotels in Germany
  • Mine Information from…
    • Web analytics tools
      • > WebTrends
      • > i2A
      • Paid Media Campaign
      • Internal search results
  • Check Out The Competition
    • What are your competitor’s using?
      • > Look at both online and offline competitors for top keywords
    • What AREN’T your competitors using?
      • > Look for opportunities on which you can capitalize
  • Use Keyword Variations
    • Misspellings
    • > Sometimes get more searches than the correct spelling.
    • Plurals
    • > charity/charities
    • Synonyms
      • > auto parts/car parts
    • Merged words
      • > web host/webhost
    • Hyphenated keywords
    • > ecommerce/e-commerce
  • Linking Best Practices Obstacles to avoid Building effective keywords Linking best practices Copywriting Design/development best practices
  • Sitemaps
    • Use keyword rich anchor text
    • Link to sitemap from homepage
    • Link to all key areas of site
    • No more than 100 links
    • Keep most relevant links closer to the top of the page
  • Inbound Links
    • Quality vs. Quantity
    • Acquire links on a regular basis
    • > Don’t get too many links at once
    • Ensure presence in top directories
      • > Yahoo!, DMOZ, bCentral
      • > Submission to “secondary” directories that have high PR and back links from major engines
  • Inbound Links
    • Obtain links from high quality sources
    • > Look for links from topically relevant sources
    • > Make sure links are coming from a wide array of subnets
    • > Ask linking domains to use a variety of relevant, high traffic keywords in the anchor text
    • > Make sure inbound links are pointing to deep areas of the site
    • > Location of links important – within content ideal
    • > Do not obtain links from “Free-for-Alls” or “Link Farms”
  • Outbound Links
    • Link to topically relevant sources
    • Deep link to the relevant areas of the target site
    • Use keyword rich anchor text
  • Copywriting Obstacles to avoid Building effective keywords Linking best practices Copywriting Design/development best practices
  • Copywriting
    • 2 Audiences
    • > End User
    • > Spider
    • Keyword Density
    • Copy should sound natural
  • Copywriting
    • Develop a theme for each page
    • Use proper grammar, punctuation, spelling – search engines can spell
    • Write in clear, concise sentences – bullets ideal where applicable
    • Break up large blocks of text with headlines
  • Design and development best practices Obstacles to avoid Building effective keywords Linking best practices Copywriting Design/development best practices
  • Title Tag – Optimizing by Engine
    • Google
    • > Indexes more than 1,000 characters, but only displays 63
    • > Remaining characters shown in search description
    • > Do not use embedded HTML tags – Google ignores them
    • Yahoo!
    • > Indexes approximately 1,100 characters, displays up to 112
    • > Strips embedded HTML tags
    • MSN
    • > Indexes more than 1,000 characters, but only displays 70
    • > Doesn’t display excess title in search description - displays first 196 characters of body text
    • > Do not use embedded HTML tags – MSN will cut off title
  • Title Tag
    • Most heavily weighed by search engine
    • General rule: no more than 80 characters; use relevant keywords
    • > Spaces count as characters
    • > Google limit = 63; Yahoo! = 112; MSN = 70
    • > Stop words (i.e. “the”, “is”, “of”, “a”, “and”) and punctuation ignored
    • Intended for the human reader – goal is to get people to click
    • Avoid being repetitive
    • Don’t use overly long titles – dilutes keyword density
    • Proximity and word order important
  • Meta Data
    • Meta description
    • > Write a clear, concise 2 to 3 sentence paragraph incorporating targeted keywords for each page
    • > 120-170 characters
    • > While not weighted heavily in algorithms, this description will be the billboard for your site in the SERP’s
    • > Relevant keywords will trigger this description the search results pages
    • Meta keywords
    • > 3 to 4 keywords per page, comma-separated
    • > Place the most important keyword first
  • Images
    • Incorporate relevant keywords into image name
    • > ex. http://www.url.com/images/keyword.jpg
    • Alt text within the image tag should contain relevant keywords
    • Keep text out of images whenever possible
    • Limit using image map navigation – create duplicate text links
  • Directory Structure
    • Words should be separated by dashes (-) or underscores (_)
    • URLs should contain relevant keywords
    • Avoid deep folder structures
      • > Example: http://www.url.com/products/leather_couch.html
  • For a copy of this presentation, please leave your business card with the word “presentation” written on the back. Rob Garner l Senior Strategic Planner Senior Strategic Planner iCrossing, Dallas, Texas 214.676.2089 [email_address] Thank you. Any questions?