W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > January to March 2005

article: Web Standards vs. Search Friendly Sites: Can You HaveBoth?

From: david poehlman <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2005 08:24:53 -0500
Message-ID: <000501c50f73$ea571b40$6401a8c0@DAVIDPC>
To: "wai-ig list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>


Web designers don't understand search optimization, and search
marketers
are
clueless about usability and style-at least according to conventional
wisdom. The good news is, those attitudes are slowly starting to
change.

A special report from the Search Engine Strategies conference, December
13-16, 2004, Chicago, IL.

For as long as I have been involved in online marketing and
specifically
search marketing, there has been a rivalry between web designers and
optimizers. What stuck me as a sign of hope was the composition of the
"web
Standards, Good Design and SEO: You Can Have It All" panel with their
collective attitude that we can "all get along" to design web sites
that
are
visually appealing, informative to the visitor and at the same time, be
search friendly.

In Danny Sullivan's opening remarks for this session, he told the
attendees
that one of the main reasons he created Search Engine Watch was because
everyone was busily creating sites for Internet Explorer and Netscape
and
few were spending any effort designing for search engines which he
referred
to as the "third search engine."

Eric Meyer was the first speaker. Eric is a Consultant from Complex
Spiral
Consulting and gave a very informative presentation regarding web
standards
but did not make any specific ties to search engine optimization. He
spoke
about how following web standards can reduce page weights which save
companies money. He also touched on browser incompatibilities,
especially
in
IE but mentioned that transitional design (using a combination of CSS
and
table layout) can help to bridge the gap.

Standards help users by reducing load time. Other than that, users
really
don't care about the code. One point that Eric made (one that many
large
companies have already known but you don't see as often in smaller
sites)
is
that by following standards, developers can streamline the creation and
maintenance of a site saving the company money. For more information on
web
standards, Eric suggests webstandards.org, maccaws.org and of course,
the
worldwide web consortium.

Matt Bailey from the Karcher Group spoke primarily about how web
standards
help accessibility, specifically for the visually impaired. He showed
examples of how sites appear to people with various visual impairments
and
showed some screen reading programs (JAWS, Window-Eyes, HAL, and Out
Spoken)
and demonstrated how an over-optimized site would sound when read by
one of
these programs.

While humorous, it was obvious that brand-conscious companies must look
at
the broader picture when optimizing their sites. While most of his
presentation was focused on development for the visually impaired, Matt
did
touch on how standards apply to search engine optimization. He stressed
using accurate image ALT attributes, uniquely titled pages, title
attributes
in links, descriptive text links and the need to reduce JavaScript as
important search friendly tactics.

Shari Thurow from GrantasticDesigns.com followed with high praise of
Eric
and his work with CSS. She emphasized that good site design is most
importantly user friendly and engaging enough to get users to convert.
Shari
reviewed a few case studies to emphasize the fact that your site needs
goals
and that you have to integrate search into your goal attainment
planning.

Shari talked about the conflicting advice given by search engine
optimizers
and web standards professionals who advocate a limited use of graphics,
and
branding and marketing professionals who want to load up on graphics
and
flash to present a compelling offer to visitors. Shari is on the
graphics
side of the debate, advocating that graphics are better for usability
and
that too few graphics make a page appear unfocused. She echoed the
advantages of CSS on site maintenance and reduced file size and
explained
one of the biggest problems with CSS is that not all fonts are
available to
users, causing problems for site owners.

Yahoo's Tim Mayer said speed is a major concern, and to ensure fast
loading
page the company uses standards to reduce file size. Tim went on to say
Yahoo's crawlers prefer fast loading sites and that they really don't
put a
lot of emphasis on validation. They have not seen a correlation between
validated sites and good quality relevant sites.

Though the divide between design and optimization will continue, this
session went a long way to help close the gap and hopefully lead to
faster
loading sites and a wider adoption of accessibility functionality
across
the
web..

Bill Hunt is the CEO of Global Strategies International.

http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3482116
Received on Thursday, 10 February 2005 13:25:19 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Tuesday, 19 July 2011 18:14:19 GMT