Architectural techniques for improving search engine rankings
March 8, 2014
One of the great challenges for website developers is providing more content with less time. As languages, frameworks, and platforms continually evolve and become more advanced, it can be easy for a developer to feel somewhat lost among the myriad of options available. Questions that a developer might be faced with are, “How should I spent my time? What should I be learning now? And how will I know if I’m moving in the right direction?” Faced with many technological challenges, it can sometimes seem overwhelming for a developer to sacrifice the time required to add content to the website. When I say “content,” I am referring to articles, FAQs, and other information that will be attractive to search engines and visitors of the website. Time focused on adding content may take away from time that could have been spent improving the infrastructure. Even after massive time spent writing articles, it is sometimes humbling to see your website only barely begin to obtain modest positions on various searches across the internet. Suddenly, when the web developer realizes that they need to spent time on infrastructural changes, such as preventing spam from filling up their contact forms, it can be very disappointing to see search engine rankings rapidly drop. So, you may ask, “What techniques are available to obtain sustainable growth of the numbers of visitors that find my website?” To this question, there is one ultimate answer: architecture.
I will address this topic by starting with a parable. Consider two architects, not software architects, but the kind that construct buildings. The first architect rushes through the design, obtains capital through loans, and quickly leverages available resources to start constructing the beams and walls of the building. The second architect spends much more time in the early design stages. The second architect ensures that every pipe, every room, every door, and every last possible detail are considered. The second architect performs a thorough evaluation of the climate, soil, and risks of major disaster. The second architect doesn’t begin building until absolutely certain that the building has a firm foundation, a foundation that will not fall. Now let’s jump ahead in time. The first architect has constructed nearly half of the building, but he now realizes that there is a problem with the layout of some of the plumbing. To continue with construction, the top half of the building will need to be redesigned. The amount of money required to perform these design changes will be massive, and without starting over, certain structural consequences of the redesign will render the building weak to natural disaster. This building has been built on a sandy foundation. The second architect, however, was much more careful. Every decision was made with the utmost analysis and planning. As a consequence, the foundation was constructed with the future in mind. The construction was able to occur with much greater organization and cost savings. Once the construction gained momentum, milestones began occurring ahead of schedule. The second architect’s building was built on a sure foundation.
Software architecture has many similarities to the architecture involved in commercial buildings. With a good software framework, the developer may accomplish much. I have seen many developers write web applications in PHP only to later realize that it would be very complicated to build software applications that interoperate seamlessly with their website code. Nonetheless, the key to obtaining sustainable rankings in major search engines depends not upon the content you deliver, but instead upon your ability to allow your users to create content. Think about some of the largest and most successful websites on the internet. How many of them became successful without providing an interactive service? The best software architecture is designed with usability in mind. Is your website simply acting like a billboard? Or does your website provide a service that your users need to have? You must consider what the motivations of your users will be. Many websites want to tell their users what to do and what to believe. But far fewer are the websites that listen to their users and act upon what their users say. Take some time and think about the ten most successful websites or web technologies that you have ever seen. How much of their content is generated by their users?
This architecture is the key to obtaining sustainable search engine rankings. Without good architecture, your site is built upon a sandy foundation.