Developer Day – Search Friendly Web Development | SMX Sydney

Developing a crawlable infrastructure

Speaker: Michael Motherwell, SEO Rainmaker – MMIT Consulting

The session started with Michael Motherwell and his presentation on developing a crawlable infrastructure. The most important points included the following:

  1. Content – Create unique and valuable content. Avoid duplicate content, most common errors are caused by session ids, tracking codes, capitalization ( vs, sorted list, etc. The solution is to use a 301 redirect, canonical tag or chose a good tracking system (for duplicated content caused by tracking URLs parameters)
  2. HTTPS status code is important – 200 Ok pages are good. Avoid using 200 for error pages (you need to use a 404 errors status). Customise your 404 errors page (e.g. Apple)
  3. Your pages indexed might depend on page rendering speed, page rank and how often a page is updated (fresh content)
  4. Have an XML & HTML sitemap
  5. Hierarchy is important – organise your hierarchy to make your most important pages on the top of the hierarchy
  6. Fix your broken links
  7. Tools available: Xenu (to crawl your site), Webbug (to check what it’s sent to a Web Server and, when the response is received and to check what the Web Server sends), Selenium (testing tool)

Rich Applications – considerations when developing rich internet applications, including technologies such as Flash, Silverlight, and AJAX.

Speaker: Danny Dover, SEO Consultant –

Danny presentation was about rich applications. The most important points included the following:

  1. HTML – This is still the most popular and search engine friendly code, it’s very straight forward and was initially designed for academic papers.
  2. Flash- This is very useful, however it is not SE friendly. sIFR is an alternative and recommended by Google. Google is attempting to crawl flash, but it is not great at this.
  3. iPhone does not support Flash. Apple says that the reason behind this is because ,any system crashes are caused by Flash.
  4. Ajax – This is a JS technique. Google is still working to make Ajax crawlable “Proposal for making Ajax crawlable “
  5. Silverlight – Microsoft version of Flash technology. It’s new and not adopted by Google, and not supported by the iPhone. This is not recommended for SEO.
  6. The main recommendation is to find a compromise. Build pages that are SEO and people friendly. But go nuts and use Flash or Ajax for pages that you don’t want to be indexed and are only used for usability. Use HTML 5, this has new tags to make rich applications.

Danny also mentioned about CSS image replacement, a technique used for example for serving an image of flash replacement through CSS styling. This technique is commonly used by spammers so be careful.

URL rewriting, redirection & canonicalisation

Speaker: Greg Boser, Founder – 3 Dog Media

Greg defined himself as a marketing person not a developer. His session was about URL rewriting and canonicalization.

The most important points included the following:

  1. URL rewrite is good for click-through, not for SEO
  2. Keywords in URL – beneficial in Google regardless whether in the filename/directory names or variable values in query strings
  3. Hyphen in URL – it’s the preferred way but don’t overdo it
  4. 3 approaches to rewrite unfriendly URLs:
  5. URL rewriting server module such as mod_rewrite for Apache
  6. Recode your scripts
  7. Proxy based solution – not the best solution
  8. If you are on Microsoft IIS server, use ISAP rewrite 3.0
  9. Regular expressions for Mod_Rewrite – good to handle rewrites, easy to find on the web
  10. Canonicalisation: rewrite is only the first step, make sure any piece of valuable content has only one URL . Prevent to index duplicate pages. Methods used include:
  11. Conditional redirection: Most effective but somewhat complicated, results for an SEO perspective are the same
  12. Canonical tag: good enough but not as good as the 301 redirect. Initially the canonical tag worked only across single domain, now Google allows it across different domains (cross domain canonical). This might become a good tool for syndicated content.

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