Stoney deGeyter of PolePositionMarketing.com Presents Site Architecture at Unleashed

This session was geared to discussing the basics of website architecture and issues that are important to Search Engine Optimization.  The following is a synopsis was a live blogging of the main points of each topic presented in Stoney's presentation at the Unleashed Conference for Small Business Marketing.

Website Architecture

Website Architecture Helps:

Search engines find important pages

Users navigate to important pages

Search engine determines page relevancy

If you don't have all your ducks in a row it will hinder your website's performance

Roadblocks search engine spiders

Decreases rankings

Confuses visitors

Reduces sales

Solid website structure provides found for effective SEO

Domain & URLs are a big factor

Domain Names

Keep them short

Make the memorable

Use keywords (if possible)

Good

"mymortgagebanker.com"

"batterstuff.com"

"rainbowweddings.com"

Bad

"the duffelbagfannypacktravelstore.com"

Motorcycle-batter-equipment.com"

"omniinteractive.com" (what does that mean)

Alternate Domain Names

Alternative, misspellings

Abbreviations

Phonetically similar

.net., .org, .netc.

Sucks.com, sux.com

Domain redirects:

Redirect all urls to you main URL

Favicon:

Adds branding value

Use that little image to help brand your company

Search engine friendly URLS

Keep it short

Use keywords if possible

Minimize parameters

www or not to www (duplicate content issue)

Pick one and redirect the other

Set it up so it automatically changes no matter how someone types it in - it goes to the main url you are promoting               

Home page redirect:

Don't have your home page doesn't redirect to a subdirectory.

Make sure you redirect the main page shows up at the www.sitename.com

Secure / non-secure pages

http: vs https:

don't let the search engines index the https: pages (these are the secure pages)

products -> shopping cart -> checkout 

Make sure your users are only entering the secure section of your site are when they are going into your checkout.  Shopping cart really doesn't have to secure.  You don't want the search engine spiders getting into the secure section of your site.

Differing navigation paths (duplicate content issue)

Having navigation paths to one product page, however these are producing different URLs due to parameters in the URL. 

If you cannot figure this out how to not show this, then add unique content to each of these pages

Dash vs. Underscore

This becomes a problem with underscores because you don't know if it's an underscore or a space.

Stick with hyphens, safer and visually easier for users to remember

Tracking IDs (duplicate content issue)

You don't want these to show up in your URLs

These can create millions of duplicate pages, creates problems with search engines

Customer Redirect Pages

Don't just have the white "not found" pages

Have your own customer 404 redirect pages

Directory structure

You want this to be "flat"

Home page - then main topics (having own folders) - then under main sections is where that content is

Not one page per directory - group them

Document / Page Structure

Site Hierarchy

Natural flow of topics and sub topics

This is amazingly similar to directory structure

Title Tags

Unique from page to page

Don't just use the company name

Don't duplicate the same title tag across all pages

Label them what are the pages about

Brand titles - You won't have a recognizable brand name unless you use it in your title

Meta descriptions

Not every page needs a description - if you are targeting primary short tail search - important, long tail, not so important

Keywords - not that important

Unique Content - Duplicate Content Issue

Don't rely on default product descriptions, unique content stands out - you are competing with everyone else using that default description

Take the time to make sure your content is unique

It's OK to start with that, but as soon as you can get in there and change up that information

Textual interlinking

Link to related content wherever possible

Use the right words to link to that information

Bullet points work well for this too

On Page Content Development (duplicate content issue)

Clearly written

Be accurate

Research & use keywords

Use image alt attributes

Transcribe Video & Audio Content

Adds additional unique content to your site

Gives an alternate way of consuming the information for users who don't want to watch or listen           

Hx Hierarchy

Use outline form

Main heading is your H1

Main points are your H2 & H3

You don't have to have them all, but use them in an outline form if you are going to use them

Avoid Code Bloat

Excessive tables

On page java script

On page styles

HTML Formatting

Reduces the page load

Maintains low text to code ration

Reduces unnecessary code clutter

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS)

Allows cleaner code by moving formatting and style issues off-page

Tables / positioning can all be done with CSS

Reduces code bloat, makes editing easier and focuses engines on content

Tables Cause Code Bloat

Search engines read top left most cell first and then follow cell by cell

Using CSS helps to reposition the code to focus on the content first

Use Alt Attributes

All images clearly explain in ALT

Especially true for navigation images

Valid Markup

Valid HMTL - will not improve rankings

Non-Valid HTM - can cause problems that prevent ranking

Why Validate - uncover errors that can prevent spiderability and proper page indexing

Sight Impaired Accessibility

Screen readers - accessible for blind / deaf visitors

Use adjustable fonts

Alternate Views of your Website

Take a look at your site in text only browsers

Turn off your CSS

Mobile phones

Printer Friendly Page (duplicate content issue)

Use CSS to create style sheets for printing

Put these pages in a separate folder and block from search engines

Cookies - Don't force your standard for browsers

Link Structure

Linking to the www. Version 

Pick one and link to it ONLY!

Linking Secure / Non-Secure Versions

Absolute URLs in Navigation

Linking to Home Page

Link to it as the main URL (www.sitename.com) not the actual file name (www.sitename.com/index.html)

Search Friendly Links

Don't use popups or javascript links

If you want the search engines to find the link, don't use popups/javascript

Long URLs can hinder search engines - to many parameter might be bad

Absolute vs. Relative Links

Absolute - wherever you are use the absolute

Relative - allows you to move things around either

"Absolute gives you absolute control"

Good Linking Practices

Avoid flash or javascript links

Keep links in control (100 max per page)

Every relevant page needs one incoming link

Splitting Link Flow (duplicate content issue)

It creates a problem for both internal and external link

Link juice should only flow to one page to make it more relevant

Top / Side Navigation

Link to main pages & most important site sections

Well designed and linked to important pages & subpages

Footer Navigation Bar

Use for primary company pages

Good place for few SEO related links

Breadcrumbs

Let's visitors know where they are

Provides easy navigation back

Make sure they are linked

Anchor Text

Whenever possible use keywords in your link text

"read more" "click here" doesn't pass any value

Keyword rich links - should accurately reflect the information on destination page you are linking too

Cross Link Related Products

Helps to promote other products that are related or similar to the current product they are viewing

Use this opportunity to cross promote

Product Categorization

Helps them find the products easier

Multiple Product Pages

Show as many products as possible

Allow product filtering

Shopping Car Pages

You want to keep these out of the search engines

Don't allow cart links to be followed

Search Engines Can't Access

Password protected areas

Pages found through pull downs or filling out search forms

Site Map

Allows visitors to quickly find pages on your site

Robots.txt

Helps keep search engines out of places they shouldn't be in

Nofollow Attribute

Helps linking, helps with making sure the right pages are getting "credit" with the links

Prevent Broken Links

Things changes, pages get removed

Helps you make sure you are driving people to the right place

Redirect Changed Page URLs

Make sure old stuff is properly redirect the new pages

Should site architecture to be a priority in your SEM campaign - YES

While it's so basic, it is important to pay attention to these small details.

Building a search friendly structure to achieve stronger SEO results.
Improved spidering and indexing, increased customer confidence, effectiveness of search engines, etc. all can be a result of great website, document and linking architecture.


April 21, 2008





Liana "Li" Evans is the director of internet marketing at KeyRelevance Search Engine Marketing. She oversees all social media, online PR and word-of-mouth marketing efforts for a variety of clients within the company’s portfolio. Li also collaborates with the team on all SEO (Natural Search) optimization for clients. Since 1999 Liana has been active in the search marketing arena, becoming well versed in all avenues of search marketing but with particular focus on natural search, image search, and social media. She also has substantial experience in areas of the retail industry regulated by the FTC. Prior to Li’s tenure at KeyRelevance Search Engine Marketing, she helped to design, plan, and implement an Internet Retailer 500 company’s efforts into natural search optimization, successfully revamping outdated navigation and site architecture. Li is an accomplished programmer and database programmer/designer familiar with the demands of large-scale, dynamic retail sites.

Liana holds a B.A. in Information Systems with a minor in Public Relations from Susquehanna University, and an Associates Degree in Mass Communications/Public Relations from Pennsylvania College of Technology. She currently lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Limerick, PA and runs the search marketing blog Search Marketing Gurus.






Comments(3)

The link is corrupted, the real destination is http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/.

By the way that's a good list of issues you have to consider when you create a website.

Many of these goals are possible only if you consider SEO at design time. In Italy unfortunately we don't have this chance in many many cases :-(

Long-term Natural SEO success is going to come from doing things the right way, improving usability, and putting the visitor before the search engines when developing the site.

There are different ways to build a website. Getting an effective market is relatively expensive. It requires intelligent planning and careful execution. Whatever industry involved with it is important to be updated with the latest trends by doing effective market research.

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Search Engine Guide > Liana Evans > Unleashed: Site Architecture by Stoney deGeyter (Live Blogging)