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Question Microdata, metadata and that curséd Joomla generator meta "baiter"

  • sozzled
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3 years 7 months ago - 3 years 7 months ago #158 by sozzled
Lately I've been looking at lots of "stuff" around the issues of how websites are indexed in Google, what attracts people (and, in particular, the no-gooders who are there to cause trouble) to our websites, and, more generally, how to gain that "competitive edge" in the dog-eat-dog world of search engine optimisation.

Over the course of the time I have attended meetings of JUG Canberra, I've listened to many presentations about SEO. We spend an inordinate amount of time "prettifying" our sites so that when they're indexed at the Shangri-la of where-do-you-get-it (viz. www.google.com.au ), it's almost like the task is little more than stroking our egos. So, while I don't mind hearing about the latest and greatest tidbit on how to gain the marketing edge over the rest of those poor three-clicks-and-hey-presto-I-built-a-website script kiddies, I don't really want to knock myself out too much by trying to look w-a-a-a-a-y cool.

Let me put it in simpler, less colourful language.
  • Just about anyone can build a website using Joomla in about 15 minutes
  • Just about anyone can load that brand-new Joomla website with any kind of content
  • Most of us can figure out how to submit URLs to the popular search engines
  • Competition within the Joomla SEO market is fierce; there's a lot of money made by those who advertise their product is better than all the others and Joomla site developers are only too eager to hand over their cash for those things
  • Some of these SEO products are good and some of them are complete wastes of money. I have yet to read a review that says "after using 'brand-x SEO product' my site traffic has increased 200 thousand percent and I am on my way to making my second million dollars".

The fact is that, to make a difference in the search engine stakes, you need to invest a lot ... a lot of money (to buy a product or a SEO expert's time), money to advertise, or your time to educate yourself on what's behind how Google makes your site look like yesterday's tuna pasta bake. And, even when you've invested all that time and money, what have you gained? Have you gained that second million dollars or has the effort merely been to release an increase of endorphins?

Cutting this long story short, there are three things that we (as Joomla site developers) should consider:

1) Eliminating that beastly "Joomla! - Open Source Content Management" meta tag that stands out like a big target to scammers and spammers intent on disrupting your livelihood. If you want to "advertise" the fact that "This is a Joomla website and it's just as vulnerable as everyone else's" then that's OK. If you want to hide that fact then remove the line that says

<meta name="generator" content="Joomla! - Open Source Content Management" />


Fortunately this is dead easy.

2) Good SEO starts with good metadata. Good metadata improves your page "rankings" in the search engines. One simple tip is to remove the global site description and keywords and, instead, spend those few extra minutes and add the information on your site menus, articles, categories. Further, it's not a bad idea to work a little extra on getting your pages noticed with simpler "search engine page" references.

3) Microdata is not used the same way by all search engines. Google marks up microdata elements slightly differently to Bing/Yahoo; some search engines don't use microdata at all.

I've been looking at a few good and inexpensive tools on the JED lately that take a lot of the stress out of producing good microdata and meaningful [metadata] page descriptions (not to mention something that kills the "powered by Joomla" thing stone dead). Perhaps I could give a lightning (5-minute talk) on this one day, maybe?

By the way, I believe strongly in giving credit where it's due, especially to those people who donate their time to build products that we take for granted or take for free. Joomla is a freely-available open source product. I believe that we should do what we can, when we can, to acknowledge the small number of people who have designed and built a CMS that's used by 25 million people around the world. Having said that, it's also a fact that there are a few sad people in the world who get their "kicks" from wrecking the dreams of the millions of honest Joomla users and part of that problem is that it's easy to identify vulnerable sites by looking at the source code; "powered by Joomla" is one of the tactics used.

Read my blog and
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3 years 7 months ago #159 by Laurie
Hi Michael!

Two terms I don't understand:
* simpler "search engine page" references.
* Microdata

Thanks,
Laurie.

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3 years 7 months ago - 3 years 7 months ago #160 by sozzled
Simpler "search engine page" references - this is a part-reflection in my words on search engine results pages (SERPs) . Sorry, this is not easy for me to explain.

A long time ago, when the first search engines (like AltaVista (which later became Yahoo!), Lycos, MSN Search (which is now Bing), etc.) first tried to bring order to the otherwise chaos of the internet, SERPs were at the mercy of "metapirates" (as I would describe the ancestors of modern-day SEO practice). The metapirate trademark was to try to artificially influence SERP rankings by peppering their HTML with, literally, thousands of <META> statements.

Back in the old days, given the limitations of HTML, it was possible to achieve a higher SERP rank by adding code like this:

<meta name="keywords" content="A,comma-separated,list,that,occupies,two,thousand,lines,
of,raw,HTML,and,includes,keyword,references,to,everything,from,Elvis',death,to,toasted,
cheese,sandwiches" />


In the old days before organic searches and CTRs were successfully exploited by Google in dominating the search engine market, people believed they could achieve that Holy Grail - that nirvana, that Utopia where their page ranked number one - merely by writing more <META> junk than actual content!

Fortunately, those old days are over; the "metapirates" have been consigned to a watery grave, swallowed up by the new breed of ruthless predator: the SEO shark.

Today's website owner/developers are terrified by this new mega-metabeast . This is - obliquely - what I was referring to when I wrote about "simpler 'search engine page' references". Perhaps I should have been more concise (but I was having too much fun telling the story in my own words). Our biggest problem is the infoglut we're constantly fed; we find outselves at the mercy of whomever or whatever promises to be the next great time-saver to obtain the SERP summit and, I think, the result is we under-achieve in that process. What I mean is, we're spending too much time trying to please ourselves or our clients that we've (kind of) lost sight of the original objective.

I spent the past week trawling through dozens of tracts on the 'net that dealt with how search engines work, what makes SERPs stand out more prominently that everyone else's, and what should I really spend my time doing and I made a lot of very interesting discoveries about myself. I made a number of surprising discoveries that were not about improving/optimising/simplifying SERPs (as I clumsily worded the phrase you've asked me to explain). I discoveries I made were not merely webcraft-technical; I believe I've developed a deepter personal insight into how SEO affects people's personalities. I'm not entirely sure if my new-found revelations are the result of the hours I spent overstimulating my amygdala or whether, by the end of it, the bigger question is about who is rewarded by improving SERPs. Putting it crudely, is SEO about " baiting " or " 'bating "?

Microdata - this is a lot easier to explain. Look it up! ;)

Read my blog and
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