Using HTML was once a smart move for findability online. Seems obvious to us now, but in case you don’t realize how stupid people were during the initial growth of the Web back in the late nineties, imagine this: People used to send cease and desist or take-down letters to owners of other sites because the other sites were linking to them.
“How dare you link to my site! You have no right to mention my existence and if you do not remove the link, I will sue you!”
In other words, we have a hard time looking beyond the current paradigm. Right now that paradigm is something like, in order to be findable, spend a lot of time working with the wording of your site’s copy, and make sure your metadata and you document structure are written to reflect what search results you want to win.
It’s funny though: Still, one of the best things you can do SEO wise is to have an RSS feed. And in case you didn’t realize this, RSS is a Semantic Standard. Apparently RSS 2.0 is a little convoluted (the adjustments made to the standard since it’s creation are not entirely in line with the Semantic Web school), but the original RSS stood for RDF Site Summary. Blah blah blah. Go look it up.
A little bit of Semantics is potentially way better for your site’s visibility than a whole lot Keyword tweaking.
FOAF, SIOC and the countless other Semantic Markups are a way for you to get your foot in the door now! A bit like the people that realized early on that they needed to have a website at all in the first place.
A little bit of early adoption of Semantics for your information could really pay off as we start moving toward a smarter Web. And we are moving toward a smarter Web. Who will be part of it when it reaches it’s tipping point for large scale adoption? Will you or your business? Or will you wait until some news report announces that the rest of the world has already gone semantic? I know I’ll be there. I already am.
Because what Search Engines are trying to do is provide users with access to what users are looking for, the process of SEO, when it consists of tweaking Keywords and/or document structure around, according to whatever the latest rumors are on what silly and temporary way Google seems to be currently making decisions about relevance, is always going to be flawed and as long as these SEO rumors are floating around, people will be trying to game the engines and in turn, people are collectively increasing the need for the engines to change their parameters, repeat, repeat, repeat. Search engines do not try to index sites based on the sites’ application of SEO techniques, engines index sites based on an attempt at creating an Information Architecture… This is hard to do because most website aren’t presented in a architecture-y way. So we’ve come full circle. Feeds are an architecture-y way to present your content, so it’s no wonder they help with SEO.
You might ask “So what’s next beyond RSS? How can I make Google love me even more?”
My answer is: “Stop lying to them with your SEO, and start helping them with Semantics”
And just remember what happened when a little bit of semantics got put into effect? Remember RSS? Well the blogosphere basically happened and in turn the “Live Web,” Podcasting and all that. Powerful stuff, and Web 2 is just the tip of the iceburg.