CSS, AJAX, Web 2.0 & Search Engines: Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2007

Aug 23, 2007 | 2,275 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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As the web moves into its second generation, sites are making more use of CSS, AJAX and other advanced and interactive design techniques. But how are the largely Web 1.0 search engines reacting to these, from an SEO perspective. This session explores issues and solutions.

Moderator:

Anne Kennedy, Managing Partner, Beyond Ink

Speakers:

  • Shari Thurow, Founder & SEO, Omni Marketing Interactive
  • Vanessa Fox, Product Team Lead, Zillow.com
  • Mikkel deMib Svendsen, Creative Director, deMib.com
  • Amit Kumar, Senior Engineering Manager, Yahoo!

Q&A Speaker:

  • Amanda Camp, Software Engineer, Google, Inc.

Shari Thurow is the first speaker of the session. She begins by citing the pros and cons of CSS:

Pros:

  • Adding HTML pages lets webmasters control the design options like margins, font/typeface appearance.
  • With CSS one can alter the "look" of a website quickly and easily.
  • One can drastically shorten the download time of a webpage.
  • Usability pros say 8-12 secs.
  • Representative from Yahoo says 30 secs or less

CONS:

  • End users will have to install fonts in their pcss else the webpage will now appear as the designers intended.
  • Logo or corporate identify
  • Banners (advertisements or self-promoting)
  • Condensed font employed for screen real estate
  • Usability testing (task oriented) and focus groups (user opinions) might show that users prefer a font that is not commonly installed on all computers.
  • Print materials
  • A/B and multivariate testing
  • CSS-formatted hyperlinks can dominate the content of a web page making the content appear unfocused.
  • CSS can be used to hide text on a webpage.

Adding an H1 tag to a graphic will not make search engines believe text is more important.

Tips:

  • use stylesheets
  • Only determine use graphic nav versus css nav after testing with your users
  • Make sure your pages display appropriately on multiple browsers
  • Hidden elements (layers, text) are acceptable to SEs as long as those elements are meant to be seen and used by site visitors.
  • Do not use CSS to exploit SEs.

Next to speak is Mikkel deMib Svendsen of deMib.com on AJAX and Web 2.0.

Tips for using AJAX:

  • Use AJAX but not too often.
  • Use AJAX only if it boosts your business or generates more income.
  • Let AJAX be a choice and not be made mandatory.
  • Set proper (301) redirects of "wrong" linking to the AJAX application.
  • Leave it to the professionals. AJAX is HIGHLY insecure. Only TRUSTWORTHY vendors and consultants must be used.

Tips for Web 2.0:

  • As authentic content does not come cheap, let your users write it for free of cost.
  • Keyword research is not required.
  • Spelling errors are acceptable in content written by your loyal user, even if that means mistakes in headings and titles.
  • Content written by users will better your site's freshness factor while also rank high in non-community pages too.

Next up is Vanessa Fox of Zillow.com.

Vanessa spots the most common optimizing mistakes as:

  • Blocking links
  • Blocking content (AJAX is a big reason)
  • Not providing content

Tips:

  • AJAX does not let Search engines see (as well as users with JavaScript turned off) lots of content.
  • Vanessa also echoes that user generated content is a great help.
  • The more information there is for search engines to index. There is more freshness, etc.
  • Remember to have information though.
  • Blank discussion boards are like ghost towns.
  • Be certain you know a source you can get content from.

Yahoo's Amit Kumar lays emphasis on what he calls the guiding principles, technologies, techniques, and resources. These are:

Guiding Principles

Build for your users: Yahoo! will adapt.

Think "Accessibility"

Users vote by attribution — the way we determine what people are looking at and people like is by how many links a site has. It's important to remember in the context of AJAX. Make sure users can link to you.

We accept hints! Use sitemaps.

Technologies

CSS

Issue: understanding your pages

Core to the web, like HTML

Flash and JavaScript

Issue: reading your pages

Need to consume carefully.

AJAX

Issue: Finding all your content

Think "form filling"

Badges

Issue: Where is the content from?

Attribution

Techniques

Graceful Degradation

Turn off js/css in your browser, make sure everything still works.

Alternate Nav

SItemaps

Site Explorer

robots.txt

Closing the session today is Google's Amanda Camp who basically spoke about webmaster guidelines, an old Google blog which discusses Flash presentations etc. An interesting quote was, “What to do if you have javascript, etc. Really, just make sure it degrades gracefully.”

SOURCE: SEARCH ENGINE ROUND TABLE

4.thumbnail CSS, AJAX, Web 2.0 & Search Engines: Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2007

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail CSS, AJAX, Web 2.0 & Search Engines: Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2007
4.thumbnail CSS, AJAX, Web 2.0 & Search Engines: Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2007