This morning when I saw an article submitted by QualityGal at Sphinn which made to the Front Page. I wanted to write a comment on it, but as my comment became big I thought maybe I should just post it in my blog so that everyone can read.
So long story short – Ragan Communications, a PR & Marketing firm recently covered a presentation done by John Spagnuolo about “SEO” in general. The reason the I’m linking to a cached page of Google, is because the actual article has been ‘moved’ and has been added under Ragan Select (Where readers need to pay a Membership of $279/year to read the content). This is what I hate about PR companies, they just can’t deal with a criticism can they? Instead of any ‘protest’ or ‘debate’ they just prefer to ‘hide’ under the table.
But anyway, If you think I’m going to bash Ragan just like how Jack Leblond did on his article, questioning the credibility of the company — then you are wrong.
Let me start by saying that with all due respect, I completely disagree with Jack Leblond on this one. I think whatever advice John gave away on the article were all valid and the reporter Michael Sebastian also did a good job in covering it.
Regan is not a SEO Company. As far as I can tell they don’t provide any “seo services”, they are just a marketing/PR firm. So I don’t think it is wise to question their credibility here, because the article that they delivered for their readers were accurate and its indeed some of the best practices that any new website show follow. Now whether or not they follow those ‘mentioned steps’ on their own website certainly should not involve their ‘credibility’.
Yes, I agree that if content is first sourced it definitely helps the crawler to get all your content first before it see’s anything else. However having said that, for a mid-scale site like Ragan I don’t think this is a big issue.
Meta Keywords have been dead for a long time (R.I.P). It was not mentioned in the article. And the meta keywords that Jack referred to in Regan’s site are probably auto generated by their CMS. Since search engines became smarter and they dont’ really want you to tell them what keywords your page is related to, I don’t think putting anything in the meta keywords is an issue. Certainly those keywords are not helping them, but its not doing any harm too. What John suggests in the articles are all valid points – content is king, have your keywords in side your title/content etc.
Stuffing Keywords in Alt Tags
Alt Tag for Images are basically needed for two main reasons – 1) So that the search engines can find your image via the image search, 2) User Friendliness – Browsers which can’t display images should be able to display the text to the user.
Over-optimizing and stuffing keywords in ur images is not really going to help Ragan or anybody else :)
Page URL Structure
Search engines are getting better at crawling dynamic URLs. Ragan has over 4k+ pages indexed in Google so I don’t think they have any problem with that.
Many big websites are still doing well, even after having 8-12 parameters in their URL.
I agree that Regan can probably do better in their titles. But I have seen a lot worse than that. Its all a matter of ‘personal’ preference. For example, some companies, prefer to have their “Brand Name” on every page title because of branding purpose. So not everything done ‘on the page’ are for SEO purpose.
What to take away from this article?
You need to really focus on building the trust of the search engines first. Once you have built that trust & credibility, you can climb your way up in the rankings and sort of ignore the ‘little things’ as long as it doesn’t give user any bad experience. None of the things that were highlighted by Jack has anything to do with User Experience. They were all meant and targeted for the search engines.
Once you site reaches a substantial level, it sort of the Search Engine’s Job to crawl you site properly. Google itself is nothing. What makes Google useful and valuable is their search results (relevant pages/sites). Now if they fail to actually crawl sites and give their users what they want, Its Google’s failure ultimately.
Suppose the top 100 News sites (on all topics) team up and decide that they will stop using “Title Tag” and use something else. Do you think Google will stop crawling or ranking those sites? Google will soon have to adapt to that change and the demand of the users.
So many websites doesn’t have “Meta Description” tags but still Google Manages to show the generated snippets of those site in their results page. Images without alt tags are still showed in Image Search based on the texts around the Image or the file name of the image.
What does this show? When ‘not enough’ people are following something, search engines always came out with an alternative way of handling it for their OWN Sake! Because without the search results they are not even worth a penny.
Best practices are ‘best practices’ for the mass market, but that doesn’t mean every single one has to follow those ‘best practices’ at every level. When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, the game has certainly changed over the years. Now we have Universal Search, Localized Search, Personalized Search blended inside the traditional 10 plain links. So companies needs more than just “On Page Optimization”. Ultimately Your site’s credibility and trust is the most important factor in today’s ranking.
Disclaimer: I have absolutely No affiliation with Ragan or the writer of the original article.