SEO Blog

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On our SEO blog, MoreVisibility's SEO team offers insights and actionable information for novices and webmasters alike. Gain valuable information about technical SEO and learn the nuances of content production and optimization - for your website, mobile site, and offsite efforts. From "best practices" primers to thoughts on strategy and the intersection between SEO and usability, our SEO experts will guide you through today's pertinent SEO techniques and ideas.
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April 17 2007

Ordered List, Unordered List, The List Goes On and On

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Perhaps the most underappreciated form of writing is the simple list. We all make them. We attach them to our refrigerators to remind us to buy milk and we use them as references to track our day. What many people may not realize is that lists can be used for much more.

In her book, Approaches to Discourse Georgetown University professor, Deborah Schiffrin notes that when speakers tell a story, they often use list structures along with or, even in place of, standard narrative structures. For example:

We went to the store to buy some fruit.

  • There were pears.
  • And peaches.
  • And oranges.
  • And even some enormous melons.

There were so many kinds of fruit that we couldn’t decide between them, so we didn’t buy any at all.

If lists can be used to tell a story, it should be no surprise that lists can also be natural choices for structuring all kinds of web content, including marketing copy.

In fact, the list can be a valuable tool for composing web content. Lists add visual and semantic structure that can make any writing easier to follow and research in reading comprehension has found that students do better when presented with well-structured content in their classroom materials. These findings also carry over to the kind of writing found on commercial web sites. Studies in web usability show that structuring content with lists enhances the readability of standard promotional writing, too. When combined with concise, objective styles, content written using unordered lists improves by as much as 124%.

All this may explain why search engines place a higher value on keywords found in ordered and unordered lists. A web page containing a list of items all related to the main keyword targeted for the page is more likely to actually be relevant to that keyword. It’s just the nature of a well-structured list and something that is fairly easy for search engines to detect.

The World Wide Web Consortium has an excellent article describing the advantages of using lists in web content and the best way to go about coding them. These valuable tips can help you:

  1. improve the readability of your web content
  2. make your copy more understandable
  3. optimize your code for multiple browser platforms
  4. make your pages more attractive to search engines
  5. and the list goes on and on or it could.

We often see lists used to describe a range of products or services. What else could we use a list for? What else can you do with a list?

April 10 2007

Mobile Enabled Web Sites Are Popping up Everywhere

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Many web site owners would really love to have a mobile version of their web site available. Not only is it just cool and convenient to browse for the latest information while on the go, it is also becoming very popular. Soon most web sites will have a mobile version. If you can’t offer this service you may lose visitors in the future.Now is a good time to start learning about the technologies involved and the issues you may run into while deploying a mobile web site.

Most mobile enabled sites are using syndicated versions of their standard site. This could create some duplicate content issues which should be avoided. I’m in the process of learning new ways to fix this issue right now. One way is to make sure that your site is being crawled by the engines correctly. The standard SERPs should only index your standard content and the Mobile SERPs should only index your mobile content.

You have probably noticed that the big players in search are all starting to offer mobile versions of their search engines which are designed to index mobile content, this means that there will probably be a mobile SERP for each engine.

With a bit of research on Google’s site, I found a list of their user-agents which can be used in your sites robots.txt file. If I had my mobile content serving out of www.mysite.com/mobile and wanted the site to get indexed correctly I would add something like this to my robots.txt

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /mobile/

User-agent: Googlebot-Mobile
Disallow: /

User-agent: Googlebot-Mobile
Allow: /mobile/

This would tell the standard Google SERP to not index the content in “/mobile” or any of it’s sub-directories. Then the next two rules would tell the mobile Google SERP to index everything in the “/mobile” directory and ignore everything else.

This is just one way to avoid the issue, There is also the .mobi domain which is to be used only for mobile content. I will discuss this more on another day. For further reading on mobile site development and the DotMobi domain, I would recommend this awesome guide which is in PDF format.

DotMobi Mobile Web Developer Guide

April 10 2007

Blinded by the Flash – User Experience and SEO Have More in Common than You Think

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A basic rule of website design is that the site should provide a positive user experience to its visitors. While it’s true that a site that’s invisible to search engine robots might not get many visitors, it’s also true that a site that fails to consider humans is unlikely to keep those visitors – much less sell them anything. Search engine optimization and user experience are both crucial for a successful site and, much as I hate to say it, user experience, like content, is king. Unfortunately, traditional web design often misses the mark on both fronts.

It’s common knowledge that JavaScript and Flash aren’t SEO-friendly. However, I was surprised to learn in this article on ruining the user experience that it’s not just search engines that don’t like sites that depend too heavily on Flash and JavaScript. In fact, nothing can make a dial-up user push that stop loading button faster than the sight of the Flash loading bar, or worse, a site that won’t let you in unless you agree to spend the next three hours downloading software so you can see its menus.

It turns out that even “simple” drop-down menus can irritate the user. Usability research has found that users would much rather type state abbreviations directly into contact forms than fiddle with a drop-down menu. From an SEO standpoint, drop-down menus dilute keyword density which may even blur keyword relevance and make it harder to optimize the page for keyword search. In addition, badly implemented JavaScript menus can make a site almost impenetrable to anyone whose browser or operating system isn’t supported and most of the time, web designers are decidedly unsympathetic.

As a Mac user, I was highly amused when I heard the ironic tale of Apple Computer’s misfortunes with a page design. Apple once found itself presented with a page design that featured JavaScript menus that worked great on a PC but not on a Mac. It just goes to show that even obvious user requirements can be overlooked and designers need to beware of being blinded by the Flash (or in this case, JavaScript) at the expense of their clients, their customers and the search engines.

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