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Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP: A Developer's Guide to SEO [Paperback]

Cristian Darie , Jaimie Sirovich

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction xvii

Chapter 1: You: Programmer and Search Engine Marketer 1

Who Are You? 2

What Do You Need to Learn? 3

SEO and the Site Architecture 4

SEO Cannot Be an Afterthought 5

Communicating Architectural Decisions 5

Architectural Minutiae Can Make or Break You 5

Preparing Your Playground 6

Installing XAMPP 7

Preparing the Working Folder 8

Preparing the Database 11

Summary 12

Chapter 2: A Primer in Basic SEO 13

Introduction to SEO 13

Link Equity 14

Google PageRank 15

A Word on Usability and Accessibility 16

Search Engine Ranking Factors 17

On-Page Factors 17

Visible On-Page Factors 18

Invisible On-Page Factors 20

Time-Based Factors 21

External Factors 22

Potential Search Engine Penalties 26

The Google “Sandbox Effect” 26

The Expired Domain Penalty 26

Duplicate Content Penalty 27

The Google Supplemental Index 27

Resources and Tools 28

Web Analytics 28

Market Research 29

Researching Keywords 32

Browser Plugins 33

Community Forums 33

Search Engine Blogs and Resources 34

Summary 35

Chapter 3: Provocative SE-Friendly URLs 37

Why Do URLs Matter? 38

Static URLs and Dynamic URLs 38

Static URLs 39

Dynamic URLs 39

URLs and CTR 40

URLs and Duplicate Content 41

URLs of the Real World 42

Example #1: Dynamic URLs 42

Example #2: Numeric Rewritten URLs 43

Example #3: Keyword-Rich Rewritten URLs 44

Maintaining URL Consistency 44

URL Rewriting 46

Installing mod_rewrite 48

Testing mod_rewrite 49

Introducing Regular Expressions 54

URL Rewriting and PHP 60

Rewriting Numeric URLs with Two Parameters 61

Rewriting Keyword-Rich URLs 64

Building a Link Factory 66

Pagination and URL Rewriting 72

Rewriting Images and Streaming Media 72

Problems Rewriting Doesn’t Solve 75

A Last Word of Caution 75

Summary 76

Chapter 4: Content Relocation and HTTP Status Codes 77

HTTP Status Codes 78

Redirection Using 301 and 302 79

301 81

302 82

Removing Deleted Pages Using 404 83

Avoiding Indexing Error Pages Using 500 84

Redirecting with PHP and mod_rewrite 84

Using Redirects to Change File Names 85

URL Correction 89

Dealing with Multiple Domain Names Properly 90

Using Redirects to Change Domain Names 90

URL Canonicalization: www.example.com versus example.com 91

URL Canonicalization: /index.php versus / 92

Other Types of Redirects 94

Summary 94

Chapter 5: Duplicate Content 95

Causes and Effects of Duplicate Content 96

Duplicate Content as a Result of Site Architecture 96

Duplicate Content as a Result of Content Theft 96

Excluding Duplicate Content 97

Using the Robots Meta Tag 97

robots.txt Pattern Exclusion 99

Solutions for Commonly Duplicated Pages 103

Print-Friendly Pages 103

Navigation Links and Breadcrumb Navigation 104

Similar Pages 106

Pages with Duplicate Meta Tag or Title Values 106

URL Canonicalization 106

URL-Based Session IDs 107

Other Navigational Link Parameters 107

Affiliate Pages 108

Redirecting Parameterized Affiliate URLs 109

Summary 118

Chapter 6: SE-Friendly HTML and JavaScript 119

Overall Architecture 120

Search Engine–Friendly JavaScript 120

JavaScript Links 121

DHTML Menus 121

Popup Windows 121

DHTML Popup Windows 129

Crawlable Images and Graphical Text 129

Search Engine–Friendly HTML 140

HTML Structural Elements 141

Copy Prominence and Tables 141

Frames 144

Using Forms 144

Using a Custom Markup Language to Generate SE-Friendly HTML 145

Flash and AJAX 149

The Blended Approach 149

Summary 150

Chapter 7: Web Feeds and Social Bookmarking 151

Web Feeds 151

RSS and Atom 152

Creating RSS Feeds 154

Syndicating RSS and Atom Feeds 160

Other Sources of Syndicated Content 164

Social Bookmarking 164

Summary 172

Chapter 8: Black Hat SEO 173

What’s with All the Hats? 174

Bending the Rules 175

Technical Analysis of Black-Hat Techniques 176

Attack Avoidance 177

HTML Insertion Attacks 177

Avoiding Comment Attacks Using Nofollow 180

Sanitizing User Input 184

Requesting Human Input 188

301 Redirect Attacks 194

Content Theft 196

On Buying Links 197

Digital Point Co-op, Link Vault 197

Summary 197

Chapter 9: Sitemaps 199

Traditional Sitemaps 199

Search Engine Sitemaps 200

Using Google Sitemaps 201

Using Yahoo! Sitemaps 203

Generating Sitemaps Programmatically 203

Informing Google about Updates 208

The Sitemaps.org Standard Protocol 209

Summary 210

Chapter 10: Link Bait 211

Hooking Links 211

Informational Hooks 212

News Story Hooks 212

Humor/Fun Hooks 212

Evil Hooks 212

Traditional Examples of Link Bait 213

Interactive Link Bait: Put on Your Programming Hardhat! 213

Case Study: Fortune Cookies 214

Summary 218

Chapter 11: Cloaking, Geo-Targeting, and IP Delivery 219

Cloaking, Geo-Targeting, and IP Delivery 219

More on Geo-Targeting 220

A Few Words on JavaScript Redirect Cloaking 221

The Ethical Debate on Cloaking 221

Cloaking Dangers 222

Using the Meta Noarchive Tag 222

Implementing Cloaking 223

Cloaking Case Studies 232

Rendering Images as Text 233

Redirecting Excluded Content 233

Feeding Subscription-Based Content Only to Spiders 233

Disabling URL-Based Session Handling for Spiders 234

Other Cloaking Implementations 234

Implementing Geo-Targeting 234

Summary 241

Chapter 12: Foreign Language SEO 243

Foreign Language Optimization Tips 243

Indicating Language and Region 244

Server Location and Domain Name 244

Include the Address of the Foreign Location if Possible 245

Dealing with Accented Letters (Diacritics) 245

Foreign Language Spamming 248

Summary 248

Chapter 13: Coping with Technical Issues 249

Unreliable Web Hosting or DNS 249

Changing Hosting Providers 250

Cross-Linking 251

SEO-Aware Split Testing 253

Detecting Broken Links 254

Summary 259

Chapter 14: Case Study: Building an E-Commerce Store 261

Establishing the Requirements 262

Implementing the Product Catalog 262

Summary 281

Chapter 15: Site Clinic: So You Have a Web Site? 283

1. Creating Sitemaps 284

2. Creating News Feeds 284

3. Fixing Duplication in Titles and Meta Tags 284

4. Getting Listed in Reputable Directories 284

5. Soliciting and Exchanging Relevant Links 285

6. Buying Links 285

7. Creating Link Bait 285

8. Adding Social Bookmarking Functionality 286

9. Starting a Blog and/or Forum 286

10. Dealing with a Pure Flash or AJAX Site 286

11. Preventing Black Hat Victimization 286

12. Examining Your URLs for Problems 287

13. Looking for Duplicate Content 287

14. Eliminating Session IDs 287

15. Tweaking On-page Factors 287

Summary 288

Chapter 16: WordPress: Creating an SE-Friendly Blog 289

Installing WordPress 290

Turning On Permalinks 293

Akismet: Preventing Comment Spam 294

Sociable: Social Bookmarking Icons 295

WP-Email: Email a Friend 296

Chicklet Creator Plugin 298

Sitemap Generator Plugin 299

Google Sitemaps Plugin 301

Digg Button Plugin 304

Pagerfix Plugin 305

Eliminating Duplicate Content 307

Pull-downs and Excluding Category Links 308

Excerpting Article Content 309

Making the Blog Your Home Page 309

Summary 310

Appendix A: Simple Regular Expressions 311

Matching Single Characters 312

Matching Sequences of Characters That Each Occur Once 317

Introducing Metacharacters 319

Matching Sequences of Different Characters 324

Matching Optional Characters 326

Matching Multiple Optional Characters 328

Other Cardinality Operators 332

The * Quantifier 332

The + Quantifier 334

The Curly-Brace Syntax 336

The {n} Syntax 336

The {n,m} Syntax 337

{0,m} 337

{n,m} 339

{n,} 340

Glossary 343

Index 351

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