In addition to my front-end development at Cogneato, I’ve begun doing site SEO. I’ve always done the very basic SEO that comes from clean HTML structure with descriptive content and basic accessibility considerations as well as simple but descriptive URL structures. However, for Cogneato, we are going much deeper than that. It’s a good opportunity to learn more of this SEO stuff, but so far I haven’t liked it that much. I’d much rather be cutting up layouts or programming or working with data. The SEO can be very boring. For instance, setting up and monitoring rankings for a big list of keywords can be boring and tedious: Perhaps it will be more interesting when I’ve gotten to look at trends and use that information to modify things. There’s also stuff I don’t like about it in principle. Throwing keywords into title tags, headings, and alt text can potentially go against usability and accessibility (the blind love keywords repeated over and over). We aren’t nearly doing the blackhat type stuffing with bunches of keywords stuffed everywhere, mostly just one per area, but I still don’t like it or having to figure out creative ways to make it work and make sense. Also figuring out ways to put in different phrasings of the same basic keywords isn’t fun, and can potentially make a site look less professional in my opinion. I’d much prefer all this happening in the copy, as there as a lot more room to work it in without it being so glaringly noticeable. And I don’t like moving away from semantic structure for search engines. I did a FAQ with li’s, h2’s, and div’s rather than dt’s and dd’s. I’m not sure what the “best practice” is for that, but the dl seemed more appropriate to me than the ul.
Still, I think I’ve learned a good starting bit about optimizing for search engines and will continue to learn more, which will be very useful for my own sites, even if I don’t go all out with them. I’ve been doing some research and watching some Lynda courses on the subject, which has helped a lot with learning some best practices.