SMX session: SEO for Web 2.0 sites

Wed 5 November 2008 15:10, Bas van den Beld

SMX session: SEO for Web 2.0 sites

The session on SEO for Web 2.0 sites at SMX London 2008 hosted 4 speakers. All of them had a different angle on looking at Web 2.0 sites.

Nathan Buggia
Buggia talked about Web 2.0 sites from the vision of a search engine. He talked about indexing and looking at websites as if he himself was the crawler, which gives a nice air to the presentation.

Buggia gave the example of a very nice snowboard website which you cannot find in search engine. Its completely built in flash. Then he shows us the code of the website: there’s javascript, noscripts and flash. So unreadable for search engines. Funny thing is that Buggia (Microsoft employee!) advices us to use Google Trends.

Buggia sees two major problems for search engines on web2.0 sites:

-    Search engines can’t read Ajax, Flash or Silverlight
-    One url for many pages: No deep links are possible and its not possible for search engines to read the site.

The solutions he proposes:
-    Make a simple Landing Page: all HTML /CSS with links to all your content
-    Make compelling content for your audience: best sales content, viral, social media (video’s how to, etc)
-    Use a instrument to track conversions
-    Refactor Functionality & content: put flash items on the site on specific parts of the page
-    Make a sitemap: remove duplicate urls
-    Specific technical issues for Microsoft user


Tom Critchow
Next up was Tom Critchow. He focuses on User Generated Content.
UGC is a difficult issue for SEO. When users are creating your pages you have no control. Therefore most of the time you will have poorly optimized pages. Also your information architecture is more difficult to control.

To leverage your User Generated Content Critchow has some suggestions:
-    Search queries are UGC too: Search queries are very important. It’s data your users have put on your website. He gives the example from Scribd where they’ve embedded some searchqueries.
-    Use Internal metrics to find missed opportunities. Find a way to identify hot pages. Cross that against the external searches. Which one is not getting the traffic.
-    Use data to drive internal linking: things like ‘Most listened to, ‘Top selling’, ‘Highest rated, ‘Hot right now’ can be used to optimize. A good example for this is LastFm.
-    Align voting with External voting. People who use social media like Digg won’t favorite it on the website itself. Make sure you automatically favorite it. On the other hand, if somebody favorites it, ask them to go to social media.

Dave Naylor
Third up was Dave Naylor. His short presentation focuses on control. His message: keep control of your website.

Often pages get removed for Google because of the user generated content. He gives an example of a website which was banned because of comment spam

As said, Dave’s message is “Keep control of your website”. Look at your website like a spider would. “Because you’re web2.0 doesn’t make you bullet proof.”

Dave also warns us for giving out Wordpress Themes since they can be dangerous. You have no control over it once its out there. The footer of the theme most of the time has a link to the website of the one who designed. But once you’ve given it away you don’t know where it will end up. For all you know a porn site is linking to you.


Mikkel Svendsen
Most of Mikkel’s presentation was about using Ajax. First he tells us what Ajax actually is and how much fun it can be to use it.

But then he turns us around by talking about
  “Why Ajax sucks (most of the time)”. Ajax is not good for search, because it breaks the standards:
-    you can link to the application, not the page
-    there are expections, but they don’t work in SEO. SEO’s do not recognize it as unique page URL

Mikkel hands us some tips about using Ajax:
-    Use Ajax as an option, like with flash. 
-    Ask yourself “why” you want to use it
-    Error trap links
-    Use Ajax to sculpt link

Then he returns to User Generated Content and why than can be great for SEO:
-    Its free
-    No keyword research necessary
-    Miss spellings are acceptable
-    UCG improve the freshne

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