Do as we say, not as we do
If you are even remotely involved in marketing, communication or PR, you have no doubt heard of Ragan Communications. The good folks at Ragan have been providing expert advice for years. Ragan, like many others in their field, have been getting more involved in Social Media, e-marketing and even Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
One of Ragan’s staff writers recently posted an “aticle” (UPDATE: Original article now resides in member’s only area. Here is a Google cached version) (UPDATE: Now the Google cache is dead too…sorry) on how to land on the first page of Google. In the story, author Michael Sebastion summarizes for us a presentation made by John Spagnuolo at a recent Ragan conferance (which generally are quite good – you should go to one).
Michael’s summary was well-written and John’s suggestions, aside from implying Web teams are slow and difficult to work with, were accurate.
How many SEO rules can one article break?
The page this article is on breaks many of the rules talked about by John, and a few other important rules of SEO.
There are no hard and fast rules on code-to-content ratios, but having a page with less than 10% content (like this one) is certainly not a good idea. The article tells us “content is king” and I agree. It’s too bad that on this page code is king and content is … well, the king’s 3rd cousin on his mother’s side.
Michael and John tell us to start our optimization by finding and using the correct keywords. I’m sure what they meant was content keywords, but the keywords must also be included in the Meta tags. Meta tags are less important now than they used to be, but they can not be ignored. Let’s take a look at this page’s keywords meta tag.
<meta name="keywords" content="Articles, aticle, title, story, ragan select, related stories, related products">
It seems that Ragan wants us to find this SEO article by searching for “aticle” and not something SEO related. The description tag is even more puzzling – it’s empty.
Alt tags on images
John & Michael remind us to always include alt tags for our images – that’s good advice. This page has very few images, one of them though is the company logo. Too bad the only image I could locate an alt tag for is the icon for the RSS feed.
The title for this page is not horrible, though I don’t know why they felt the need to tack “Article | Homepage Articles” to the end of it. This page title is better than the rest of the site though, many of the other pages on Ragan.com use the same title over an over again.
Michael does call out Ragan for it’s reliance on long, dynamic URLs. Google has said that it can follow simple dynamic URLs with a few parameters. This page passes eight url parameters and none of them are something a human can understand. Google may be able to find this page, but I’m not holding my breath.
I’ll end my article where Ragan started theirs, with credibility. John and Michael discussed a few ways your site can lose credibility. I think they actually showed us a better way.