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SES New York: Design And Search Engines

Making both humans and machines happy

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Ever look at different doctors’ bookshelves?  There are usually at least two or three books in common, regardless of the professionals’ fields or age.  This happens because the basics are important, and a session at SES New York returned to the basics of site design.

(Coverage of the SES New York conference continues at WebProNews Videos.  Keep an eye on WebProNews for more notes and videos from the event this week.)

Depending on how familiar you are with these matters, Eric Papczun, the director of natural search at Performics, recommended starting out by reading Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.  Next, concentrate on creating friendly URLs – make sure they’re unique, and keep keywords in them.  Site maps are great, too.

Papczun then discussed the issue of using Flash, JavaScript, and Ajax.  While these things can look nice, he recommends a judicious approach, with a much more liberal use of CSS.

Next, Matt Bailey, the president of SiteLogic, picked up on the topic of accessibility.  The problems Target’s site pose for the visually impaired have actually gotten the company sued.  Since search engines are blind, as well, using alt attributes is important for all sorts of reasons. "Your site should be available to anyone, anywhere, anytime on anything," stated Bailey.

As a couple of added points: Bailey suggested using favicons and not allowing URLs to grow outside the address bar.

Craig Hordlow, the chief search strategist at Red Bricks Media, wrapped things up by once again addressing the issue of Flash and CSS use.  He suggested using tabs on a flash page as a way of letting search engines see content, but not throwing the stuff at users until they click for it.

SES New York: Design And Search Engines
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