harriyott.com

SEO Adventures

Earlier this year, when I was nearing the end of a contract, I redeveloped my website. As a web developer, I needed my professional site to look like I knew what I'm doing.

As well as looking good, I wanted the CV page to show up high in Google. I applied some of the SEO techniques I'd learnt over the years, and avoided some of the more dubious ones I'd seen some people do.

Firstly, I worked out which keywords I wanted to do well on. I already do rather well for searches for 'Simon Harriyott', but (and I have no idea why) not many people search for me by name. As I'm a C# developer and contractor, and it's my CV page, I chose the keywords C#, ASP.NET, developer, contractor and CV. Since CV is an abbreviation, I include Curriculum Vitae in the list. If I was interested in working in America, then Resume would also be needed.

So now I have some keywords, where did I put them? Starting from the top, I added them to the title tag. I already have my name in the title, so it could be quite long. Google places more importance on the first words in the title, so I shoved my name to the end, and slotted in C# at the beginning.

Next were the meta tags. The description and keywords were given a similar treatment.

In the body, the heading tags are important, and as you'd expect, the H1 is the most important, so keywords were added there. The main body copy needed the the keywords scattered about too, but in a subtle, not too obvious kind of way. This is the tricky bit, as people will (hopefully) read the words, so they need to make sense as well as be attractive to the big G.

I put some of the keywords in strong tags too, which are given more value than if they were left as they were.

In addition to this, I spent five years writing a blog, and getting some incoming links various pages on my domain. I could have put more effort into it, but I'm a developer first and blogger second, so the homepage has a PageRank of 3. This helps too, but a 4 or 5 would help a lot more.

I also have owned the domain for many years. Google prefers older sites, or domains that are registered for more than a year. New sites with a one-year registration may be used for spammy purposes.

A while after I'd deployed the CV page, I checked the results on google.co.uk, and found I was the first result (oh yes) for 'C# CV' and 'ASP.NET CV'. This is cool for a couple of reasons: firstly it worked, and secondly, I can tell people to go to Google, type 'C# CV' and press the I'm feeling lucky button. Well, in theory I could, but it sounds a bit cheesy.

I should check where the page appears for other combinations of the keywords, but I'm too scared to change anything while I'm number 1.

Please note that while I'm happy to attempt to improve clients' sites for SEO, it's an art, not a science, and some keywords are so saturated that it'd be much cheaper to pay for Adwords.

7 October 2009