SEO Expert Guide - Conclusions (part 10/10)
As you have seen throughout the guide, search engine optimization (SEO) is a multi-faceted activity. Likely to be time-consuming, it is important that you spend your time wisely. By way of conclusion, therefore, I would like to (i) summarise the time/spend/effort (=cost) and value trade-off for each area I have covered, (ii) highlight from that you top five areas of focus and (iii) give you some migration tips for how to cut-over to your new, optimized site.
(a) The cost/value tradeoff
I have listed all the SEO and promotion techniques covered in the guide below, rated them for cost and value, then sorted them on a score (which is a product of their value and cost):
URL name Optimization - Low Cost - High Value (score 9)
Domain name Optimization - Medium Cost - High Value (score 6)
Navigation, Internal Links and Site Map Optimization - Medium Cost - Medium Value (score 4)
Page Text Optimization - High Cost - High Value (score 3)
Metadata Optimization - Low Cost - Medium Value (score 2)
Reciprocal Inbound Links - High Cost - Low Value (score 1)
(b) Your top 5 priorities
From the list above, you should discern that your priorities should be the site-wide techniques of Domain name Optimization, URL name Optimization, File extension Optimization, the page technique of Title and Heading Optimization and promotion techniques of Article Submission and Blogs and RSS. Ok, I know that's six, but who's counting? These methods produce the best return on investment overall.
(c) Some notes on Migration
So you have followed my advice and built a totally new site. However, your old site is not totally without merit, right? Some sites link to it and some customers have bookmarked it. You might even have a modest Pagerank on one or two pages. So how do you migrate to your new site without losing these hard-won benefits?
Meet 301 and 302 Redirects. When a browser/agent/spider requests a page or URL, the web server where the page is hosted checks a file called '.htaccess'. The '.htaccess' file can be modified to tell spiders that the page has either temporarily moved (302 redirect) or permanently moved (301 redirect).
It is usually possible to implement redirects without messing with the '.htaccess' file directly, using your web host's control panel instead. From a search engine perspective, 301 redirects are the only acceptable way to redirect URLs. Although Google can handle 302s, the other engines struggle with it.
In the case of moved pages, search engines will index only the new URL, but will transfer link popularity from the old URL to the new one so that search engine rankings are not affected.
So where you have pages with decent PageRank, use your control panel to place a 301 redirect to the equivalent new page. I would let this run for 6 months or so, then delete or archive the old pages altogether.
(d) Some final words
I hope you have found my SEO Expert Guide useful and enjoy some positive effects over time in your search engine results and web traffic. Be patient! Results can take a while to feed through (particularly as search engines take longer and longer these days between major updates). Do send any feedback you have to firstname.lastname@example.org and check back every so often for updates. I plan to make available for download a copy of the guide in eBook format later in 2005 (at a nominal price).
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David Viney (email@example.com) is the author of the Intranet Portal Guide; 31 pages of advice, tools and downloads covering the period before, during and after an Intranet Portal implementation.
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