SEO Snake Oil

I never really felt .NET “got” SEO and ScottGu’s latest post doesn’t really fill me with confidence.  Read this:

One simple recommendation to improve the search relevancy of pages is to make sure you always output relevant “keywords” and “description” <meta> tags within the <head> section of your HTML.

Oh yeah?  Tell that to Matt Cutts.  Meta keywords haven’t had weight in any respectable search engine this millennium.  As the article explains, meta description is next to useless as well. 

What does matter? 

  • The title tag.  It shows in the browser and so Google rates it as important information.  This is a welcome addition to ASP.NET 4.
  • Heading tags.  They’re typically in large print and summarize the article. 
  • Your URL matters, so you should try to make them readable.  URL routing has been missing from vanilla ASP.NET since day 1 and has been a pain to implement.
  • Links do, even if you mark them nofollow (although they don’t count as much).
  • The text of links matters as well.

So, all in all, there are some good features being covered here.  Still, it’s hard to know who this is aimed at.  If you’re writing a new solution for SEO, it’s unlikely you’d be choosing webforms anyway.  If you’ve got an existing solution, you’ve probably already solved these problems.  That probably only leaves existing solutions that are badly implemented and, frankly, these new features aren’t going to fix that.

York Notes for SEO

I don’t talk much about SEO, because it’s really hard to create posts as compelling as seomoz, but here’s pretty much everything you need to know:

  • You can do a lot worse than writing content people want to read and link to.
  • Observe web standards.
  • Google doesn’t use Javascript on pages much.  Javascript-only links are particularly stupid.
  • Age matters.  That’s why it’s better to do a permanent redirect rather than just move the page.
  • Don’t try to cheat.

Here’s some things that people do all the time that don’t work:

  • Writing “advertising copy” won’t help you on the web.  Google treats it as the spam that it is. 
  • Slapping everything into a DIV is silly.  Use markup like h1 and blockquote for the purpose for which it was intended.

Here’s some ways of cheating that don’t work:

  • White text on a white background will positively hurt.  Search engines will spot it, and will mark you down as a spammer.
  • Giving radically different content to the google bot from the user is called cloaking.  This can get you in the sin bin forever.
  • Link trading is basically spam.  Google will treat it as such.

Black Hatting (cheating google) is possible, but the guys who are good at it aren’t about to tell you how.

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Julian Birch

Full time dad, does a bit of coding on the side.

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