Search Engine Optimization for ASP.NET Web Sites

Most of the last two years of my career I have been developing applications behind the firewall and let's face it most ASP.NET applications sit behind the firewall. This is unfortunate because ASP.NET offers the most scalable and performant (yes that is a word in our development world) platform for web sites.

I feel comfortable saying that because some of the few sites that are public, like MySpace, Plenty of Fish and Microsoft are all running on much fewer servers than they non ASP.NET/IIS counterparts. And to that point, according to what I learned at MIX IIS 7 is the best platform for PHP because it allows PHP to be multithreaded, but that is another story.

My friend Dana Coffey posted a series of really awesome articles on Search Engine Optimization for your Blog this morning; Part 1 Blog Setup, Part 2 Blog Posts, Part 3 Tips for ASP.NET Developers. There is a lot of great content in these post for more than just how to optimize your Blog for Search Engines. I was inspired and thought I would share some resources to help you optimize your site for Search Engine visibility.

Search Engine Perspective and Tools

I wanted to share some resources to help you make your web site more search engine friendly. This first is how to know what the search engines know about your site. Each of the big three search engines have some sort of web master tools that allow you to garner information about how they see your site.

Live Search Web Master Central

Google Web Master Tools

Yahoo Site Explorer

Books

There are a lot of Search Engine Optimization books on the shelves. Many are outdated. So check the copyright date and make sure it was written since 2005. This is important as the concepts of search engine optimization have evolved over the past few years and the search engines often change criteria each day to a certain degree. For example 10 years ago Meta tags for Description and Keywords were helpful in distinguishing your site from the competition. Today this has almost no bearing on search engine placement.

These are a couple of current books that I have reviewed and find their content to be helpful for most web masters to get their site more visibility. One thing to keep in mind is making your site optimized for search engines should also help your site retain users and make their experience better.

Professional Search Engine Optimization with ASP.NET: A Developer's Guide to SEO (Wrox Professional Guides)
by Cristian Darie, Jaimie Sirovich

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Search Engine Optimization: Your visual blueprint for effective Internet marketing (Visual Blueprint)
by Kristopher B. Jones

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Tools

Having tools on your desktop is the ultimate weapon in getting better search engine visibility. Having tools on your desktop is like having a control center at your fingertips. I have two tools that I use all the time, Keyword Elite and SEO Elite.

Keyword Elite is one of the most indispensable tools I have purchased because it will examine what keyword phrases people are using to find content through the search engines. This is important because as a business owner, which lets face it owning a web site is owning a business, you tend to think of just the small sub-set of phrases used to find information related to a business or subject matter. My experience has shown me that the phrases I use to find information are completely different than the audience. I have seen this same restrictive tactic practiced by my clients over the years as well.

Keyword Elite gives me insight into what is actually being used to find information on the web, which leads me to create targeted long tail content for these phrases. An example is from time to time I will use results to write blog articles.

SEO Elite is a tool that extends the information available from the search engine web master tool sites while at the same time collecting much of the information into a single application. One of the main features I like about it is its ability to monitor my site's ranking across search engines for specific keywords. This helps me keep track of how visible I am for specific phrases. What it is not great for is knowing what you rank for that you are not monitoring. And outside of analyzing your site logs for phrases you are likely not to really know what phrases you actually rank.

What is really great about each of these tools are detailed video tutorials on using them and frequent, FREE updates.

IIS Log Parser

Using the segway from analyzing logs for keywords, IIS Log parser can be a great friend in knowing how your site is being used by visitors. I am not going to get into the details of using this tool, but I will recommend a book on using the Log Parser.

Microsoft Log Parser Toolkit
by Gabriele Giuseppini, Mark Burnett, Jeremy Faircloth, Dave Kleiman

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There is an art and a science to making optimized content for the web. Following solid guidelines and creating good content is the art part. But analyzing numbers is the science part and being on top of the numbers game is very key in knowing how to apply your energy to the content creation part of an optimized web site.

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