Exploring SEO – Part 1: Many facets

I’ve had a couple of conversations with friends and clients over the past few months looking at Seach Engine Optimsation (SEO) and what that involves.

It probably doesn’t need to be stated, but search engines are the “first port of call” for many internet users, and usually represents a significant proportion of traffic to websites (in my experience anywhere between 30% and 80% of site referrals come from search engines).

Therefore it’s important to make your site as search engine friendly as possible.

Bad rap

SEO has received a bit of a bad rap because of some vendors’ attempts to “game” the system – that is use nefarious techniques to try to “trick” search engines into giving their sites higher ratings. However, there are a lot of things that we as practitioners (developers, producers, designers, content writers etc.) can do to help our clients achieve better rankings.

While I’m no SEO expert, I have picked up a lot of tips and techniques over time that I thought would be useful to jot down here in a series across the next week or so. The notes will take the form of a series, and will be tagged SEO to make them easier to find for future reference.

(Note: I’m going to focus on organic search results, not targeted search advertising such as Google AdWords)

Many facets to SEO

The first thing I think worth mentioning is that SEO is not something that you can just “bolt on” at the end of a project. Aspects of SEO permeate many levels of a project – everything from information architecture (how a site is structured and information presented), search term and site analytics data analysis, copywriting (the content of your site), web publishing system choice, HTML coding, and more.

To my mind, the various facets of SEO can be broadly split into three categories:

  1. Site strategy
  2. Copywriting/content
  3. Information architecture
  4. Technical

Each is interelated – without certain technical capabilities, information architecture related SEO methods may not be possible. Similarly, without strong site architecture, copywriting methods are less effective.

Therefore a wholistic approach is required, from the beginning of a project to the end execution, to facilitate a strong SEO strategy.

In the coming posts I’ll expand on each of these and delve a little deeper into some of the techniques that can be employed.

In the next installment I’ll touch on what I think is the most critical aspect of SEO: creating something worth finding.


Greening your web page

A little while back, Blackle got a lot of coverage for putting forward some ideas about how web design can reduce electricity consumption. Unfortunately, the calculations of that particular approach, which centered on monitor energy consumption, have been widely debunked due to the now prevalence of LCD monitors.

The other day I came across a slightly different approach presented by Steve Souders [via Ajaxian] – which presents a rough calculation of how a reduction in page weight might reduce electricity consumption at the server side.

Interesting – especially if it holds up to scrutiny. What I like about it most is that it suggests that coding best practices, like web standards, server-side compression, and code optimisation, can actually have green benefits as we strive to reduce energy consumption.

Who woulda thunk it…