Attended the SEO session at the Web2.0Expo in San Francisco today. The Session was held by Nathan Buggia (Microsoft), Vanessa Fox (Ignition Partners). Since about 43% of the visitors of websites are referred from search result pages, this is obviously getting more and more important. In short, a couple of good rules for HTML coding to be successful in SEO:

  • <title> element – This is by far the most important tag. It should be short and sweet and unique for the page.
  • <meta> data element – the ”description” meta data is by far the most important one. If you write this well (relevant and not too short) this text will be the one displayed on the Search Result page. Also it means a lot for the relevance of the search result resulting in better ranking.
  • Link elements (<a>)- Always use anchor text to describe the link – it will make the “trust ranking” better resulting in better ranking in the end. So, please no more “More information, Click here” links!
  • <h1>, <h2> and <h3> elements – Use these the way that they are meant to be used. Do NOT use <span class=”heading1”> etc to make the same visual experience for devices able to show CSS, use the headings to bring structure to your content.
  • <img alt=”the image description”> – Use Alt text if you want the search engines to care about them.
  • <script> element – Not good to create links using JavaScript for search engines (or device independence or for web accessibility). Google is currently working on a simple JavaScript parser, but it is from what I heard still in an early stage. This doesn’t mean that you can not use JavaScript to show, hide and change stuff, but you should always have a Url that, also without JavaScript enabled, actually take the user (or the crawler) to the actual content. So, use the JavaScript to do fancy stuff with a onClick, but please, do not leave the url parameter empty).
  • Flash – Use SWFObject to detect if the browser has Flash support. And if not, show a HTML version instead. Remember that crawlers can’t index Flash movies.

If a page do not have a unique URL it simply doesn’t exist. Not in search engines anyway. Bottom line is really this; If you design for accessibility you design for SEO. It goes hand in hand. Stick to the guidelines and everybody is winners.