Last night one of our SEO team members attended a conference put on by the Silicon Valley WebGuild entitled SEO for Web 2.0. The conference focused on the challenges of optimizing Web 2.0 sites and while not directly applicable to most of the B2B market at this point (though it most likely will be in the future), the social networking focus is the forefront to recruitment and staffing online services (think Jobster and LinkedIn).
We’ve talked a lot about SEO and Marketing PR of late, and the WebGuild event highlighted a few key points regarding overall website optimization. The panel members included Adam Lasnik of Google, David Hahn of LinkedIn, Joelle Gropper Kaufman of Engage.com, and moderated by Andreas Mueller of Bloofusion.
First, content is king. Original content, written specifically for users, NOT search engines (something we’ve been doing at HRmarketer.com and for our clients). This was emphasized throughout the evening, particularly by Adam Lasnik from Google. Offering visitors to your website something useful in terms of information serves many purposes, not the least of which is a reason for them to return seeking new contributions, or products. It also just happens to be what search engine spiders find easiest to index, as long as it is not password protected or behind another restricted access mechanism. We were happy to learn that Google is currently working on a way to allow for this type of information to be searched and indexed without compromising the ability of a website to continue restricting access, though no timetable was given for implementation. That’s exciting!
Site architecture was another prominent topic discussed. Particularly with regard to the types of programming that hinders the ability of search engines to index web pages. The big problem programming languages are Flash and AJAX, with AJAX being particularly prohibitive - especially if site navigation is done in AJAX. It is becoming increasingly important to consider SEO at the onset of website planning and design as search becomes ever more ubiquitous.
Lastly, links and link strategy received a fair amount of air-time. Good inbound links to your website, from trusted sources, help build trust in your website and increase your ranking in search engine SERP's (search engine results pages). Quality was emphasized over quantity. Additionally, the links coming in to your site should be relevant to your market. If you have links from an organization that has nothing to do with your business, but the source has a high trust factor, it's not going to help you in the long run as search algorithms become better at evaluating the relationships between links.
Another factor to consider with regard to links is your internal linking structure and what kind of terms you use as links. If you use "click here" to link to a white paper, you are missing an opportunity to utilize keywords important to your business which help you rank better. If you haven't developed a list of keywords for your business, you need to.
The overriding message of the conference was the importance of SEO to any business website. Putting up a website and hoping people will find you will not work in the increasingly competitive world of the Web. Having a coherent plan and including SEO from the beginning pays off. If you are already established online, evaluating your website with SEO in mind will help increase your web traffic and, ultimately, generate more sales leads.