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Development Blog

A few SEO notes

Having a website optimized for search engines can be tough. But, once you get it going, it'll make things a LOT better. Here are a few tools and things to consider.

Introduction

There are a lot of different tools and methods to use to help your site be noticed and found. Of course, I'm still working on some of these myself, but here's a few things I've learned so far. Post a comment about any other things you might have to offer!

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a pretty powerful suite to help you understand the experience of your site's visitors. To get an account is free, and only requires you to add a Javascript file to your site pages. Most CMS's have plugins that make this easy.

Some of the features I look at are the sources of the visits. Google Analytics gives you a nice chart to help you get a quick glance of the source of the visits... such as this:

You can click on the graph to get it broken down. If you go into the Search Engine section, it'll even tell you what search terms were entered to get them to your page (helps having Google providing the software!).

Another important feature is the "Bounce Rate". This rate refers to the number of people that come to your site, and leave without going to another page. They basically "bounce" in and out. This helps you to know if your site is providing information that will intrigue your visitors to look around.

One other feature is the "Avg. Time on Site". This lets you know how long people are even staying on your site... a good plus.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is another free service offered by Google. This service gives details about what the Google crawler finds, and offers suggestions to improve your site's ranking.

One nice feature is the ability to see how your site ranks in certain search queries. Here's a screenshot from mine...

Another neat feature is the ability to see all the sites that link to your site. It's always a nice surprise to see you have a site linking to yours that you had no idea about.

Webmaster Tools will also give you some advice on some "HTML Suggestions". These typically deal with title tags, and whether they are descriptive of the content on the page. There are also a few other suggestions as well.

One last thing I want to mention is the ability to submit an XML sitemap. This sitemap can include pages that the Google Crawler might have missed. This is normally a good idea because it can help getting new content on the engine faster. Most CMS's have some sort of plugin that can submit a new sitemap when you create new content.

Other things to do

Visit and contribute on other sites

When I began increasing my exposure in the web development community, I started visiting sites like Nettuts, Smashing Magazine, etc. If you do so, be sure to comment on posts that other developers make. If you do so, be sure to post your website URL. This will add yet another link to your site, and will eventually start to boost your rankings.

Use Twitter

Using Twitter is pretty powerful as well. If you write posts that interest others, they'll start to tweet to others about your site. Google, as well as other search engines, are starting to really value the input brought in from these sources. So, be sure to use them. I got a lot of hits from my CSS3 articles just by tweeting about it. So, check it out!

Use a CMS

I know there are a lot of CMS's out there to use, including Drupal, Wordpress, Joomla, and Expression Engine. Whatever one you choose is up to you, but be sure to use one. CMS's give you the ability to easily create content, update sites, and keep things fresh, which helps out a lot with rankings. Also, most have pretty good built-in support for doing SEO tasks.

Streamline your theme and CMS

The faster your site loads, the better. I looked on my Google Webmaster Tools, and noticed that my previous portfolio design took considerably longer for the Google bot to crawl. Because of that, it didn't crawl me as often. Once I streamlined my site, it started crawling more often. (The site redesign launched Oct. 9)


If you use a CMS, ensure that caching is enabled. This does help out quite a bit.

Wrap-up

So, there are a few tools and thoughts to help out. Let me know if you can think of anything else! Post a comment, and get a link to your own site! :-)