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David C. Dalton

Web Application & Database Development, Responsive Website Design, Programming & SEO Services

I hear more horror stories from new customers about what they have been through with other "so called" SEO companies. Dirty tricks, expensive ad placements and banners that are nothing more than a band aid fix over some real problems. The answer? Get the site right FIRST and then worry about that nonsense!

What’s Organic Search Engine Optimization

One of the first questions I am always asked about my search engine optimization services is "What do you mean by organic SEO" Well before I answer that we have to take a step back and define the term "organic search". Wikipedia defines organic search as:

An organic search is a process by which World Wide Web users find web sites having unpaid search engine listings, as opposed to using the pay per click advertisement listings displayed among the search results.

The field of search engine optimization, (SEO), is concerned with maximizing the visibility of a web site by making its listings appear more frequently and more prominently in organic search results. Some businesses base their SEO strategies on the successful insertion of their web site listing(s) into organic search results for various popular keywords.

OK, that being said we can move on to the other side of the coin, organic search engine optimization. As mentioned above organic search is the placement of a website without unpaid listings (IE: Google’s adwords etc.) so the when you use a search engine any of the listings that are not in the colored boxes at the top or the paid listings on the side of the page are sites that, to some extent, have achieved an organic ranking (maybe). Getting a website into these listings, ranked as high as possible, without any dirty tricks and on it’s own merits is what I consider organic SEO. My definition of Organic SEO would be:

The process of using every legal technical advantage in the construction of a website to ensure the highest possible rankings without the use of illegal (black hat) SEO methods and without the need for paid placement services.

I will also be the first to admit it’s not always easy to do but I just can’t see why anyone would spend thousand of dollars on advertising when they haven’t even attempted to clean up their site and try it the "natural" way. Then, and only then, you look at your rankings and decide what (if any) paid advertising needs to be done. As far as I’m concerned 90% of the SEO and development companies are missing the easiest and most effective way to get rankings and save YOU money, but then again they don’t care because it’s your money they are spending isn’t it?

Getting the basics right first

Organic search engine optimization starts before the first line of code is written in your website. Actually it starts during the design process. Creating a design that is pleasing to the eye and functional for your clients is extremely important but a design that leads to a very lightweight code structure is just as important. Basically the layouts we call "slice and dice" layouts (a image heavy layout that is sliced up in a graphic application and put back together with a massive table structure) put your SEO efforts 10 steps behind the minute you launch your website.

Now this does NOT mean you have to sacrifice a good looking website just for SEO, just that you and your designer have to understand the best way to lay out a website and still keep the code down to a minimum. There are plenty of great looking websites out there (including quite a few in my projects section) that are super lightweight on code, super user friendly and look terrific!

So what does this have to do with organic search engine optimization? Plain and simple it has been proven over and over that the less code a search engine spider has to fight its way through to get to your content the better your chances of getting decent rankings! Again, giving the search engine spiders the closest thing possible to what they consider the "perfect" page. I know I start sounding like a broken record but I am absolutely convinced a tableless CSS Driven site is the key to that perfect page, blending a perfect balance of design, structure and search engine happiness.

Once the design has been finalized and the programmer starts coding there are some other giant pitfalls to avoid. Having things like Javascript or large chunks of CSS within the page is one of them. Again, to a search engine spider this is useless junk that just clutters up what it is really looking for, namely content. The absolute kiss of death in this stage is when someone decides they need menus built in Javascript. Drop downs are usually the big one here but folks I have to tell you this is the fastest way to get ignored by the search engines going today! Remember, the search engine spiders can’t read Javascript so what happens when the links to the rest of your site are embedded within Javascript? You guessed it, they are absolutely ignored.

What many developer don’t understand is that these drop down menus can be built using normal HTML elements and driven via external javascript, giving the user the exact same effect but leaving the menus open to the search spiders! Why don’t they get it? Well actually a lot of them do but they don’t understand how to code them! I’ve even heard "it’s too hard" from many a "coder".

While I’m on the topic of menus there is another "spider killer" that really needs to be mentioned here, Flash. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a little bit of Flash animation on a page (as long as it’s not overdone) and I can surely see why site owners would want to use it, but just like Javascript, Flash is completely ignored by the search engine spiders! If your menu is within the Flash you have literally closed the toll booth to the spiders! This too can be overcome with some interesting scripting and the use of a <noscript> tag, but that’s one of my little tricks!

The truth of the matter is the search engine spiders aren’t very smart when it comes to looking at your website but when you think about it, with all the possible combinations of code, languages, images and animation it is a daunting task indeed. Knowing what the spiders can and can’t see is absolutely vital to your site’s rankings and success!

Part Two, Using HTML tags to your advantage