‘SEO for All’ will explain why web pages – all online material, in fact – should be optimised to make them findable and that – much like web accessibility – this optimisation will not be too great a burden. Online material that has been optimised for findability has a great deal in common with accessible material: it tends to feature tightly focused content built on well-structured foundations. Findable and accessible sites tend to feature appropriate and focused architecture, supported by logical navigation and rich links. Findability works for the standardista and for the consumer.
Why all? Why not just web developers? The world of Web 2.0 is a world in which audience is author, the wisdom of the crowd authoritative. ‘SEO for All’ has it that anyone who writes for the web – do you tweet on a a particular subject or interest? have you reviewed Call of Duty online? – can apply simple guidelines to focus their message; focused messages are good for Google, reach readers and….well, you get the point.
‘SEO for All’ then, not just all webbies, all designers or all developers. Why ‘the missing link’, though? What’s missing?
Or what I learned from Salford Business School’s course in Search & Social Media Marketing
What was missing was a personal awareness of the reality of SEO. I’m writing this at the back end of a 10 week, 4 hours a pop, ‘study when you’re bushed and the kids have gone to bed’ course in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Social Media Marketing run by Salford Business School just down the road from Manchester City Centre. From the general to the particular. Background and details. Beginner to professional. Well, not really. No one gets to be professional in anything after a mere 40 hours.
What you do get though, is a thorough grounding in the principles behind SEO and SMM (the course is acronymed as SSMM – Search and Social Media Marketing), the detailed techniques used in increasing findability and encouraging buzz and exposure to the various tools of the trade. You also get exposure to the real professionals, in the form of a weekly guest lecture by some of the most influential commercial SEO/SSMM organisations in Manchester. The likes of Latitude, MEC Manchester, PushOn and MediaVest. You also get access to SEMPO (international search engine marketing professional organisation) material and certification; the course fee includes 3 separate SEMPO Institute courses and awards. And sandwiches.
So what’s changed? Well, other than the stunning insight that the vast majority of SEO techniques – and practitioners – are absolutely ethical, the last 10 weeks have shown me that optimising web material so that it is easily findable (or, as appropriate, rises to the top of a search engine results page, or SERP as they are known in the trade) involves processes that, quite simply, complement the whole gamut of web standards.
Earlier in the year Royal Pingdom reported that in 2009 there were 234 million websites, of which 47 million had been created in that year.
Here are some numbers from Blogpulse a couple of days ago:
Almost a MILLION new blog posts today. Clearly it’s not the material that’s not there. Sure, the numbers are at best a rough guide. A blog post can be a single line. There’s no quality control. And no one reads it.
Ah…no one reads it.
Does that matter? Well, yes, it does if what you’ve got to say is relevant, reasoned, reasonable and just plain right! Without going down philosophical back-alleys, common sense tells me that most of us write for an audience. Most of us work for organisations that seek to promote themselves. This is not simply a matter of persuasion; in many (most?) cases, our organisations have an audience that are actually looking for the material we publish.
Let’s be clear about this: ‘our stuff’ is better than ‘their stuff’ (if you dont’ feel that, do it again) and we owe it to the public to make sure that when they want information, they get it from us! When statistics show that almost three-quarters of searchers click on a result from the first page of results, you’d better make sure that’s where your stuff sits.
Just as separation of style, content and behaviour are elements of standards-based, scalable, future-proof websites, findability achieved by Search Engine Optimisation is a vital ingredient in the toolbox of anyone who writes or develops for the web.
Surf: 10 SEO Techniques All Top Websites Should Use (blog: 2008);
Study: Do the Course – Salford Business School’s Search and Social Media Marketing, designed and taught by University of Salford academics and industry professionals;
Read: Building Findable Websites (it’s a book by Aarron Walter – New Riders, 2008). The website also features a Findability Checklist.
Thanks for reading…