job posts

Cogneato: SEO

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.

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Cogneato: Long Term?

Well, it seems like my job at Cogneato is likely to end up long term. Cogneato seems to be doing rather well this year, so Ron the owner thinks he will be able to keep me on long term. He is setting me up as the front end developer, as he finds me to be fast at the task. I take designs he’s done in Fireworks, slice them up, and convert them into HTML and CSS. I’ve done quite a few now, plus a few other things such as some set up on the CMS that will drive a couple of the sites.

I get to do the sites in modern HTML and CSS. I’ve only used a few tables for layout purposes (stuff I couldn’t figure out how to do cross browser without them), get to use PNG’s for transparency, and have been using the HTML 5 doctype. So far, every site has been at least somewhat different than the others, and most of them have required me to figure out something new. Some of the designs are fairly fancy. I find myself using a lot of extra divs/spans for appearance purposes only. It has been quite enjoyable. I test sites in Safari and Firefox (the newest versions) plus IE 6, 7, and 8. IE always gives me troubles. For IE 6 I am able to give them a simpler styled site, I just have to make sure it works, so I usually hide PNG’s and some other hard to deal-with elements. IE 7 usually isn’t too bad, and IE 8 usually works or mostly works with no special effort.

One site gave me a lot of trouble: DG Bar Ranch. It had a lot of the difficult things going on at once: drop shadows, gradients, boxes with variable height and width, a changeable part of the background image, z-index issues, all sorts of things. I took longer on that site than probably most of the others combined. The drop down menu’s caused me a fair amount of difficulty. I also had issues making the body background, composed of three separate repeating images, repeat properly while staying where they were supposed to. I couldn’t get the “position: absolute” to expand to the width of the body in all instances, but rather the width of the viewport, so I used “position: fixed” for one of them. I then, for IE 7, had to create two special divs to allow a background gradient fixed to the bottom to slide over a background image. The site isn’t up yet, but I can link to it when it’s up.

Anyway, I like the job and am glad it seems I will be staying on long term. I will try to post on some of the techniques I’ve learned along the way.

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