I'm gearing up for a 1-hour webinar that I'll be doing for SEMpdx next week. I've got more information on that below, but the SEMpdx crew asked their members to submit some questions that they would like to get answered during the presentation. Instead of waiting, I thought I'd go ahead and answer the questions here:

I would like more information about what this really is... I know that the e-marketing is the direction everyone is going, and I would like to get up to speed on some of this stuff in order to pass the information (as well as vendors such as yourself) on to my clients. I would love to know if this is going to be something worth my participation. (I have very little knowledge about the SEM world, but would like to learn more!
-- Kristin

The webinar is titled Secrets to Creating a Search Engine Friendly Website. I'll be covering three basic areas of website architecture:

  • Domain & URL Structure
  • Link Structure
  • Page/Code Structure

The bottom line of this presentation is to show participants how to create a search engine friendly website. I won't be discussing specific SEO strategies, but will show you what you need to know to create a website that is ready to be keyword optimized for search engine placement.

Over the years of implementing effective keyword optimization, we found that many sites underperformed because of poor website architecture. Implementing a strong, search engine friendly website architecture enables your search engine optimization efforts to be more effective. Not only does it reduce or eliminate issues that can prevent search engines from effectively spidering your website, it can also help your visitors more easily navigate and interact with it.

The three bulleted items are great starters. Interested in latest trends in what works and what doesn't. Are metatags still viable in SEO? Thanks!
-- Rick

We'll definitely be covering meta tags in the webinar, but won't spend a great deal of time on them as they are only a minor issue overall. One of the things I will be touching on specifically are issues regarding duplicate content. I'll address tactics on how to set up your domains, links and pages to avoid inadvertently creating duplicate content that will have a negative effect on the search engines.

Other important areas that will be address are code-bloat, proper heading tag usage, excluding pages from search engines and internal linking strategies to name a few.

How do Wordpress vs. Blogger [differ] in terms of search engine ranking?
-- Amber

I assume this question is in regards to the free blogging platform offered by Wordpress, similar to free platform at Blogger. As far as I know there is no search engine ranking advantage to one over the other. They are both interfaces that allow you to host and post your blogs for no money. If you are a conspiracy theorists then I guess you might be able to find cases where Google favors Blogger over wordpress in terms of allowing pages in the index and/or rankings, but I don't think there is any solid evidence to support that.

The real benefit in Wordpress, however, comes from installing their software on your server so you can run your blog off your own domain. You can't do that with Blogger. Installing the Wordpress software gives you all kinds of advantages for customization. There are numerous plugins that will help optimize your blog posts with custom title tags and the like. You can do things with the installed Wordpress software that you can't do with any of the free platforms. Plus, you get the benefit of building up your own domain.

Any secrets that don't require making a million different landing pages are most welcome! I have limited ability and VERY limited time to manage our website. Speed is essential. Thanks!
-- Dena

There really is no shortcut to good SEO. There are a lot of tools out there, some good some bad, that can speed up the optimization process, but there is no replacement for good SEO hand-craftsmanship.

Keep in mind that the type of site you have will also greatly effect how much SEO work is needed. If you're in a niche industry with limited keywords then you only need to make sure you have pages that address your main keywords and then add content semi-regularly to hit the longer-tail terms.

On the other hand, if you have an e-commerce site with dozens or hundreds of products, then every product page can be an optimized landing page. The time required to optimize every product page can be reduced by using a search engine friendly CMS (Content Management System), but even still, you'll have to take time to write good, unique descriptions for each product.

The thing about SEO is that you don't have to do it all at once. Get your site on a solid architectural foundation, perform your keyword research so you know what keywords need to be targeted, and then start optimizing specific pages for specific keywords. Some sites easily have over a thousand relevant keywords. But you don't have to optimize for all thousand keywords at once. Start small, optimize for the terms that are likely to produce the best results (i.e. better conversions, easier to rank) and then over time, as your site gets established start hitting some of the more competitive phrases.

There is no quick-fix to SEO, it's an ongoing process. So long as there are more keywords to target, there is more SEO to do. Plan for the long-term approach and tackle it a little at a time.

What are the issues with database driven content on a Website?
-- Brenda

Content Management systems, dynamic content and their effect on search engine friendly site.
-- Melanie

There are a number of possible issues with database driven content, but it's all about how it's implemented by the CMS. The things to be most aware of are to make sure that the pages created by the CMS are spiderable by the search engines and that the system doesn't not push the same content onto different URLs (other than product descriptions, as applicable.)

You also want to make sure you have control over the title tag and meta description tag of each page produced. Each page created should also have at least one (but preferably more) internal links pointing to it as well. We'll be covering a number of issues in the webinar that can be directly applied to any content management system.

Can you please talk about the importance of content both on and offsite (with links back)?
-- Michael

I'll primarily be addressing on-site content and internal link structures in the webinar, but that doesn't negate the importance of having quality incoming links to your site. The best link to a site is one that is found in the midsts of other great content. Links from lists (like link partner pages) tend to have very little relevance, if any at all. This isn't universally true, depending on the context of the link, value of the page and site as a whole, but you can hardly go wrong when you can score a link on a contextually relevant page with the link as part of the content.

How do you achieve high placement on very competitive keyword searches? Does Flash keep your keywords from being noticed by crawlers? Is there a way to find long tail keywords for a site with low traffic? Do meta keywords matter anymore? Why does my site jump around in placement on Google?
-- Chris

That first question is too open ended for me to address here or in the webinar. The bottom line is to create a site that is more valuable to searchers than any other site on that topic. It's a tough task, but someone has to have the best site. If you can create that site, and implement some solid link strategies, then you'll soon be able to out rank your competitors.

Search engines are getting better and indexing flash content and there are things you can do to make the content inside flash more readily available to the engines. The answer to your question is "no" but you still have to consider carefully how to best implement flash technology into your site so it serves both your visitors and the search engines. I'll tell you this, if you are trying to optimize for a few dozen very distinct keywords, it'll be very difficult to do that with an all-flash website. When you build a site in HTML then you're able to target keywords on specific pages, creating a better focus and better opportunities for rankings. Not to mention the ability to drive the visitor directly to the content that is most relevant to their search. But that doesn't mean there are no great ways to implement flash in a website. However, flash should be an enhancement of, not a replacement for, a website.

If you're trying to find long tail keywords to optimize then I suggest looking to a keyword research tool such as Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery. Both will help you uncover long-tail terms for your industry. As you target and rank for long-tail keywords your traffic levels should increase. This will then allow you to sort through your server logs for more potential long-tail keywords that you can better target for rankings.

I have a whole slide dedicated to meta keywords. I'm sure you'll find the information I present on that rather eye-opening. But the short answer on that question is: no.

As for your site jumping around there are a number of factors in that. First, you could be getting different results depending if you are logged into Google or not. When you're logged in then Google will show you your personalized results which will be different from the standard results. The same is true for anybody else logged in, they'll see different results that you will. Even if they are not logged in they can get different results just by hitting different data centers when doing a search. In fact, we've done similar searches from different machines in the same office and gotten different results. All of this just makes rankings an unreliable measure of success. Yes, we all want to be ranked high, but with everybody getting results, that has less meaning than it used to.

How do I get IT to help me in expediting my requests to make architectural changes to my websites?
-- Aliea

That's a good question and the most difficult one to answer. You simply have to get IT on board with what you're trying to achieve. Essentially, you have to act as a salesperson. Create goals that they will understand and jump on board with. For example, tell them you want to increase traffic by X percent by X date. Or that you want to improve site conversion rates by X. Find some goals that they can take ownership of themselves so they'll be on board with them. Once they are excited about the goals, then lay out the plan detailing how to get there. Even if you only present one item at a time, be sure to frame each requested change in a way that will help them to see how that change will help them achieve the goals.

There is still time to register for the Website Architecture Webinar. It will be held Thursday, May 22, 10 AM PST. If you sign up you can submit your questions at the same time. I'll try to do one more question and answer post before the event.

But I have my own question for you, of the three main areas above (domain, link & page structure), which are you most interested in me spending the most time on?

May 13, 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.


I'd really like to hear more about specific strategies for successful site architecture. In particular, internal linking and code side tactics to ranking well. I'm looking forward to the webinar as this is a topic that seems to be covered less than sexier topics like link baiting or social media.

I would love to join in many of these discussions but as far as I can tell this is only available to those in the US. As I live in South Africa... time and availability seem to always be a problem.

I'd love to know what you think about using the "nofollow" tag to shape internal PageRank. I believe that Matt Cutts has endorsed the use of the nofollow to pages that aren't that important within your own site.

While I don't regard PageRank highly at all, I would still be interested in your thoughts.

Hi Robert, Sorry I can't help you regarding the time schedule. You'll have to take that up with the powers that be.

I think that nofollow sculpting should be done very, very carefully. I've seen some bad things happen from it if you're not careful about how you do it and why.


I tend to agree. While I've read quite a bit on nofollowing internal pages I'd rather the engines pick up as much as possible and better optimize those.

Thanks for your input.

I would love to join in many of these discussions but according to my opinion this is only available to those in US.As i live in india it seems a problem to me.I think that nofollow sclupting should be carefull.I have seen some bad things from it.
Trivia Game Challenge

Now does Website Architecture really determine ranking? Or does it just determine user interface success?

@ Holly - no, website architecture does nothing to determine rankings. What it does, though, is help you get your site as search engine friendly as possible so once it's keyword optimized you have a better chance at performing better in the search results.

I still consider SEO "black magic" I write some blogs that were not really interesting from a standpoint of content due to coffee and then latter cocktails. It will rank higher than my best work
and I think I know SEO but if we all did we would rank #1 all the time.

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