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SEO and getting your site to communicate with Google!

It's been a while since we've updated our blog. Thankfully, this is mostly because we've been busy serving clients! In any case, we thought we'd highlight a recent project. (This wasn't a web design job, so we won't include a screen shot here.) The following is a bit technical, but it's nonetheless kind of important to relay.

For this job, the client had an existing site, but it was not being indexed well by Google. They used an implementation of an eCommerce package called X-Cart, which is fairly high-end in many respects, yet fairly klunky in others. (We're not crazy about that product, as it's written in "Smarty," which is (sort of) an unnecessary extra layer over normal PHP). Anyway, a lot of these off-the-shelf ecommerce and/or content management systems claim to have SEO capability, yet they invariably leave something to be desired when it comes to the type of performance you *really* need to grab Google's attention. This is one reason we still (ideally) prefer to write/design completely new web sites for clients rather than take over some old system. But, we'll roll with most situations.

In any case, back to the performance issues... For example, having title tags and basic meta tags on your HTML pages is just a good start. It's not the whole solution. One tough challenge for this site was the fact that they had thousands of items for sale (all from a large database) -- complete with multiple categories, descriptions, full-sized pictures, thumbnails, and more. Yet, little or none of that was appearing on their individual product pages in an optimized way. So, we went into the system's code and altered it so that it would dynamically generate all of this from the database. (Note: Not all web firms can jump into a proprietary ecommerce system and do this! A web company needs to be good on the analytical AND creative sides to really get this done well!)

Bottom line: What does this all mean? Basically, when you now pull up "Widget X" on their site, it now dynamically generates a page title with the item name, manufacturer name, and category. It now includes this information in the meta keyword tag and in the meta description tag. And, on the product listing, it writes this information as title tags (mouseover-style) on the links and pictures. Now, we did "a bunch of other stuff" too -- which we're happy to discuss in person, but it's all technical mumbo-jumbo, really, and would likely bore most people! But, the results? ... Their traffic increased dramatically! It's clear as to why this happened -- because the site now communicates with Google. And that's really what good, honest SEO is all about -- telling Google what you're all about in ways that it understands.

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