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I’m Dudley Storey, the author of Pro CSS3 Animation. This is my blog, where I talk about web design and development with , and . To receive more information, including news, updates, and tips, you should follow me on Twitter or add me on Google+.

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Introduction to Search Engine Optimization

seo / introduction

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The first action of every client after a website is complete is to “ego surf” in an attempt to find their site URL in Google or another search engine. It is almost certain that they will fail, or discover that the site is listed far down in the search results. Inevitably, you will be blamed.

It's part of your job to educate the client as to the reality of search, and how it works. Most people want to believe that there is some sort of "magic bullet" that, when applied to their HTML, will raise a site to the top of search results. Like all magic, this belief is an illusion, one fostered by so-called “search engine optimization professionals”.

Beware of Professional SEO

There are some search engine experts out there who operate in the best interests of their client, building long-term strategies for developing quality content, strong networks and robust search results. These well-intentioned individuals continue to be vastly outnumbered by black-hat snake-oil SEO salesmen who sell the latest “Google hacks”. The techniques sold by these pushers will often raise a site’s search profile in the short term, but those same techniques will become ineffective – even counter-productive – the moment Google changes its search strategy. Google can and will punish sites that attempt to “fool” it. You’re seeing an effect of that right now, with some sites screaming about how they have been downgraded in Google’s new “Penguin” search algorithm.

High ranking in search results takes time

Your client must be led to understand that high ranking in search results must be nurtured and maintained: it’s not something you can do once and walk away from. This is an excellent opportunity to create an ongoing relationship with a client, to help build them, and your own business, towards success.

Building For Search

There are seven primary components to success in modern search, all of which will be covered in the next series of articles. In summary, they are:

  1. Write strong, relevant content for the site.

  2. Wrap this content in semantic markup.

  3. List the site with search engines. List the phone numbers and address of the business if appropriate.

  4. Build online relationships that promote the site.

  5. Add meta tags, microdata, microformats and rel as appropriate.

  6. Create a Sitemap

  7. Develop and maintain a .

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