Last week I was privileged to conduct a webinar on the topic of Website Architecture. Unfortunately I was only able to get to two of the three main topics due to time and my inability to not talk so much! Overall I think we covered the two areas we got to, URL & Domain Structure and Link Structure, pretty sufficiently.

Over the course of the hour I was told that over 16 pages of questions were submitted, yet we only had time to answer a few during the hour. I'm hoping to be able to go through those and answer as many as I can, but I'm still making my way through the pile of questions sent before the webinar. So without any more yapping, let's jump right in and answer some more...

How do you submit information to search engines?
-- Lloyd

Site submission issues using seo software - how often can one submit to the engines - is there a maximum of pages one can submit - can one submit each day many different urls for the same site?

-- Gil

Let's get this out of the way. Website submission software is for mass submissions is pure garbage. You don't need to submit your site to the search engines. Ever. Anybody selling such a service or software is just taking your money.

The search engines have gotten pretty good about finding website's worth finding. If they can't find it then you need to figure out why. Maybe you haven't set up good internal linking, or worse, you don't have any other websites linking to you. The best way to get your content found is by establishing some good linkage from other relevant websites to yours (yeah, it does take a bit of work!)

There is actually one more thing you can do that is a relatively effective way to "submit" your site to the engines. That is to create an xml sitemap. This is a file that contains all your page URLs that you put on your server where the search engine spiders can find them. Again, though, this requires the search engines to find your site first. With Google you can their Webmaster Tools to submit your sitemap to Google.

But even if you submit your pages to the search engines and they include them in their index, your pages won't be given much weight if the search engines can't find the pages naturally on their own. If sitemaps and submissions are the only way the engines find your pages then you have much bigger problems to fix. Many SEOs don't like using xml sitemaps because they want to see which pages get spidered naturally without any help. This can help pinpoint problems they need to fix within the website's architecture to help those pages get spidered better naturally.

Please talk about how viral marketing can increase SEO and what's the best way to set up a viral site.
-- Melissa

Take the SEO out of the mix and "viral" marketing is just good marketing. It's a great way to get exposure pretty rapidly. But you have to keep in mind, viral is not something you build, it's something that happens. You can spend countless hours trying to build a viral website but if it doesn't "go" viral, then it's not viral.

But you can build a site, or content, that has potential to go viral. You simply have to have a great idea and execute it well. The best advice I can give is to look at other things that have gone viral. Break them down and try to figure out why. Who were they targeting, what did they do, how did they execute it? etc.

As for the SEO component, viral marketing is really about getting links. As something goes viral it gets passed around from person to person and linked to from blogs and other websites. Those links are the true SEO value in having something go viral.

How much is too much content for a site -- when to break into separate sites (investor, product, end-consumer)?
-- Christine

Quite honestly, there is no such thing as too much content, provided the content serves the needs and wants of your target audience. Where a lot of sites (and SEOs) go wrong is that they build content solely for the purpose of achieving search engine rankings, but the value to the visitor is pretty insignificant. So think first about your audience, but as long as you can keep producing content that they value, then there really is no maximum.

As to the question about breaking content into separate sites, again, you have to do what's best for your target audience. If different sections of your site have a completely different audience then that could be a good reason to break the content off into a site of it's own. But be aware that every site you have will require it's own marketing effort. When you have information combined into one site then the marketing efforts that go toward one area will benefit the other areas. Each separate site you have will need to become established in its own right in order to perform well in the search engines.

Just consider carefully before you do split out content. If you can keep everything on one site and serve all your audiences without confusing them the I'd say keep it all together. But if the content and audience is different enough to warrant then splitting it up can give you sites with a tighter focus.

How can we ensure that our SEO rankings remain high as we move through a full-site redesign from a static HTML site to a CMS framework?
-- KK

Moving a site from static to CMS framework can be a trying experience, especially when it comes to SEO. I'll assume that the entire site architecture, file names and locations, etc., will all be changing once the site goes into the CMS. The most important thing to do with the change over is to implement 302/301 redirects from each old static page to it's new CMS counterpart.

The 301 redirect tells the search engines that the move is permanent, but some like to implement a 302 (temporary) redirect for about six months before switching them to a 301. Sometimes implementing the 302 first you can keep a lot of your rankings in place as the new pages get spidered.

But either way, expect to lose some rankings for a period of time. I've seen sites lose rankings for a few weeks to as much as several months. Eventually they'll come back, but it's really up the the engines and how fast they spider the new content.

Once you get your redirects in place you'll also want to start looking through all your backlinks and getting those pointed to the new pages rather than the old. The 301 redirect will automatically re-assign the link value to the new pages, but for the long-term strategy I recommend getting as many of those links as possible pointed to the new pages.

Relying on just the redirects can cause you to lose hundreds of links if for any reason your 301 redirect implementation fails. This can happen months or years down the line by a webmaster who isn't familiar with what's going on or assumes that the new site has been up long enough so the re-directs are no longer needed. As long as there are links pointing to your old pages you want to keep those re-directs in place.

May 28, 2008

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


Why not use a CMS that lets you keep the old URLs?

Joseph, if that's can be done then obviously that's the best way to go. It all depends on the CMS system being used. certainly that can be one of the many considerations when selecting a CMS to go with.

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Website Architecture Questions Answered, Part III