Step 2: Optimizing Site Structure

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From SEO Fast Start 2007, Chapter 4: "In the second step of the ‘Fast Start’ process, we’ll work on improving the structure of your web site, to optimize its potential for better search engine rankings."

This has been, by far, the most controversial chapter in the whole book. Which is understandable, because for the first time, a "white hat" SEO expert is talking openly about previously "taboo" subjects like managing the flow of PageRank within a web site.

What the heck is going on here? Did Dan Thies, the self-proclaimed "white hat black belt champion" of the SEO world, suddenly turn to the dark side? Of course not, as Dan explains himself:

dan.gif"When ‘black hat’ (in my opinion) SEOs like Leslie Rohde and Michael Campbell first started talking about this idea of ‘dynamic linking’ years ago, the only way to do it was to use Javascript to hide some of your links from the search engines.

Well… ‘hiding links’ rubbed me the wrong way, of course… but even worse, using Javascript to do it created all kinds of usability issues for site visitors. Use of this technique was also limited to those webmasters who had the technical skill to pull it off.

Now that Google has created the "nofollow" attribute for links, these problems are gone, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t make use of this tool to fix the major problems that Google’s own PageRank algorithm causes. In 2007, dynamic linking allows us to improve out site structure in ways that help the search engines find the pages that are truly important. Now we can optimize our site’s structure without hiding anything, and without compromising usability."

What does this mean? Is PageRank somehow broken? No, PageRank is fine, at least when it’s used at the scale of the world wide web, to help Google determine which are the most important sites and pages, as seen from the web. However, once you start applying it (as Google does) to the internal structure of a web site, the "logic" of PageRank no longer applies very well. This hurts certain types of web site more than others.

Why should you care about site structure? Because no matter what search engine you’re talking about, ranking is largely a function of a page’s authority (propagated via inbound links) and its "link reputation," which is the text that’s used in links pointing to a page. Optimizing your site structure effectively means that you can make the most of both within your own site. If you ignore this important step, you’re fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

Why should you read SEO Fast Start? Because it was written by a careful researcher who understands the science behind search, with a focus on simple, ethical strategies that allow you to make the most of what SEO has to offer. You’ll also get a very nifty…

Subscriber Bonus! When you register and download SEO Fast Start (it’s free), you’ll get instant access to Dan Thies’ "Linking Strategy: From The Web In," which is just one of six sessions from his highly-acclaimed Link Building Clinic. This valuable video training course is offered as a free bonus, only to registered subscribers.

Detailed Process Map for Step Two – Site Structure:

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If you have questions about any stage in this process, please visit the Site Structure Q&A page, or review my article that provides practical examples of logical structure as it relates to dynamic linking. Thanks!