Es/Interact/Encontrabilidad

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Course Number: FED-300

Course Description

Students will explore strategies that drive traffic to a website, help users find content within a website, and encourages return visits. Search engine optimization methods (SEO), marketing strategies, traffic analysis, and theory surrounding search behavior will be discussed. Students will investigate the relationships between Usability, Accessibility, Information Architecture, Marketing, and Findability in order to implement strategies for creating findable content.

Prerequisites

Recommended Textbook(s)

Recommended Reading

Technologies Required

  • Students will need their own Unix/Linux web server running Apache to post their assignments
  • Mac or PC computers with internet connection
  • Web Browsers (Firefox, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer)
  • Web page editor that foster the development of valid (X)HTML and CSS code

Competencies

Topic Competency Evaluation Methods
General Theory Define the term findability, and describe its relationship to SEO, usability, information architecture, and accessibility
  • Final Exam
Define the term "folksonomy" and describe its findability benefits
  • Final Exam
Markup Describe the relationship between web standards, accessibility, and SEO
  • Final Exam
Identify important (X)HTML tags that communicate a clear information hierarchy and keyword prominence to search engine spiders
  • Final Exam
Use image replacement techniques to present well designed content in a search engine friendly format
  • Assignment: Findability Website
Describe the role of meta tags (description, keywords, robots, author, geo) in making a web page optimized for search engines
  • Final Exam
List and describe black hat SEO techniques that should be avoided at all to avoid getting a website black listed from search engine indexes
  • Final Exam
List and describe methods to prevent search engines from indexing certain content
  • Final Exam
Describe how frames, popup windows, deprecated markup, images maps and coding errors can present challenges for search engine spiders
  • Final Exam
Microformats Describe how the use of microformats can make content more findable
  • Final Exam
Use hCard and hCalendar microformats to make content on a web page portable and re-discoverable
  • Assignment: Findability Website
Content Describe how high quality content that serves a target audience's needs can affect the findability of a website
  • Final Exam
Use keyword research tools such as WordTracker and the Google AdWords research tool to identify a series of keywords and phrases that should be made prominent in your content in order to reach your target audience
  • Assignment: Findability Website
Create a high keyword density and prominence within a web page using key HTML elements and content authoring strategies
  • Assignment: Findability Website
Evaluate keyword density and prominence using various online tools. Example: Rank.nl
  • Assignment: Findability Website
List and describe best practices in content creation that foster findability
  • Final Exam
Describe how Creative Commons open licensing of content can potentially improve findability
  • Final Exam
Social Networking Describe the role of social networking websites in improving findability
  • Final Exam
Create and implement a findability strategy that uses social networks to drive traffic to a website
  • Assignment: Findability Website
Server-Side Strategies Create a custom 404 error page that helps lost users find the content they seek
  • Assignment: Findability Website
Create a robots.txt file that excludes specified directories and files from indexing, and points search engine spiders to a sitemap.xml file
  • Assignment: Findability Website
Create a sitemap.xml file to describe the structure of a website, and register it with all search engines that support the protocol
  • Assignment: Findability Website
List website optimization techniques that can speed up the indexing of a website
  • Final Exam
Describe how the Google canonical problem can adversely affect a website's search ranking, and outline the solution to the problem
  • Final Exam
List best practices in file and directory naming to improve search rankings
  • Final Exam
List best practices in URL design to improve search rankings, and describe how dynamic URLs can be made search engine friendly
  • Final Exam
Identify why younger domains have lower search rankings
  • Final Exam
Describe the best solution for directing users to a page that has been relocated in a website while preserving the search ranking of the old page
  • Final Exam
Preventing Findability Pitfalls Identify how audio and video files should be presented on a website to ensure search engines can index their content
  • Final Exam
Describe progressive enhancement and it's role in SEO
  • Final Exam
List and describe methods of presenting Flash content to improve SEO
  • Final Exam
Describe the indexing problems posed by Ajax, and identify methods that could make Ajax more search engine friendly
  • Final Exam
Search List and describe tools and techniques that could be employed to add a search system to a website
  • Final Exam
Describe OpenSearch and how it might be integrated into a website to improve findability
  • Final Exam
Integrate a search system into a website and include an OpenSearch XML file to let users search the site without visiting
  • Assignment: Findability Website
Describe how logging search terms can inform a findability and content creation strategy
  • Final Exam
Analytics List and describe important web analytics metrics that are markers of findability success or failure
  • Final Exam
Describe how heat maps and session recordings can inform the design of a web page
  • Final Exam
Install a web analytics system such as Google Analytics or Mint on a website
  • Assignment: Findability Website
Describe how web analytics software typically gathers information
  • Final Exam

Assignments

Findability Assignment Rubrics

Assignment: Findability Blog and Final Project Setup

Download WordPress and install it on your server (you will need to create a Wordpress account first). Set up a blog that will be part of your final project (please read the final project description before beginning this project). Each week write 1 blog post exploring findability topics. Each post should be at least 200 words in length and must be in your own words. Be sure to cite all sources.

Below are topics you might explore on your blog:

  • SEO techniques and/or utilities
  • Email marketing techniques and/or utilities
  • Microformats
  • Search
  • Findability theory
  • Flash and findability
  • Online marketing
  • Search engine friendly URLs
  • Creating findable content with accessibility and web standards techniques
  • News relating to any of the major search companies
  • Pay Per Click advertising
  • Traffic analysis
  • 404 error pages
  • Related books, magazines, or podcasts

Using the markup strategies discussed in class, create your own blog template to make your content more findable.

Recommended: Subscribe to your classmates blog RSS feeds using Google Reader, Netvibes, Bloglines, or another RSS reader of your choice so you can discover new findability concepts and strategies from your peers.

Findability Blog and Final Project Setup Grading Rubric: Blog Posts


Criteria Performance Quality Score
0 points 1 point 2 points 3 points
Blog Posts (evaluated weekly) Blog post was not published on time, is poorly written, does not contain content relevant to the course, or does not meet the post length requirement. Blog post was published on time, contains some spelling and/or grammatical errors, meets the post length requirement, but content is not very relevant to the course, or does not expand upon course topics. Blog post was published on time, contains no spelling and/or grammatical errors, meets the post length requirement, and the content expands upon course topics. Blog post is published on time, is very well written with no typos, grammar, or spelling errors, expands upon course topics, and exceeds the minimum post length. Post contains images where relevant to the content, and links to plenty of sources and resources.  

Findability Blog and Final Project Setup Grading Rubric: Setup and Design


Criteria Performance Quality Score
0 points 1 point 2 points
Setup Markup is poorly written, and does not communicate the information hierarchy in a way that will help SEO. Search and the RSS subscription button are not prominently featured. The <title> tag and meta description tag are not written to improve findability. URLs are not setup to be search engine-friendly. Blog categories and/or navigation are not logically organized. Markup is well written, and clearly communicates information hierarchy in a way that will help SEO. Search and the RSS subscription button are included in the interface. The <title> tag and meta description tag are written to improve findability. URLs are setup to be search engine-friendly. Blog categories and/or navigation are logically organized. Markup is exemplary, and clearly communicates information hierarchy in a way that will help SEO. Search and the RSS subscription button are prominently featured. The <title> tag and meta description tag are written to improve findability. URLs are setup to be search engine-friendly. Additional plugins are installed that improve findability (see chapter 5 in textbook). Blog categories and/or navigation are logically organized.  
Design The default blog software design is unmodified, or the design is poorly implemented with n thematic relevance to the topics of the course. The design is professional and thematically relevant to the topics of the course. The design is professional, intelligent, attractive, and thematically relevant to the topics of the course.  

Assignment: Research Presentation

Create a 10 minute (minimum) presentation discussing a findability topic of your choice. Please discuss your topic with your instructor before beginning research. Your presentation should be legible to a classroom of people and should include graphics, text, links, etc. illustrating your findings. Include a resources page with links to your sources and other useful places where your audience can learn more. Use Eric Meyer’s S5 tool to present your research in a findable format. This presentation content will ultimately be added to your final project.

Below are suggested research topics:

  • Black hat SEO
  • Using PHP and/or Modrewrite to create search engine friendly URLs
  • Optimizing Flash content for search engines
  • Detailed compare and contrast of 3 traffic analysis tools
  • Generating revenue from a web site using advertising, affiliate programs, etc.
  • Innovations in rich media search
  • Viral marketing techniques
  • Google AdWords or AdSense
  • Image Replacement Techniques for better findability
  • Creating custom 404 Pages with findability in mind
  • Using RSS to reach and draw more users/customers
  • Google Ajax Search API or Google CSE
  • CPC services compare and contrast (Yahoo!, Google, MSN)
  • Integrating search into your site
  • Microformats
  • Open Search
  • Interview with a professional in a findability related field (other than our guest speakers)
  • Suggest a topic to your instructor

Research Presentation Grading Rubric Rubric

Criteria Performance Quality Score
0 points 1 point 2 points
Presentation Content Content was not cohesive, seemed incomplete, at times was irrelevant to course goals, was poorly researched, and was not backed by sources. Examples were not provided where necessary to clarify concepts presented or were provided but were of poor quality. Content was relatively cohesive, relevant to course goals, somewhat well researched, and sometimes backed by sources. Some examples were provided to clarify concepts presented. Content was cohesive, relevant to course goals, very well researched, and backed by sources. Examples were provided where necessary to clarify concepts presented.  
Communication Speaker was unprepared, stumbled through content, was hard to hear or understand, and did not keep the audience's attention. Slides were poorly designed, illegible, had an inappropriate amount of text, and did not present relevant content. Speaker was prepared, did not stumble through content very often, spoke relatively clearly and audibly, and kept the audience's attention. Slides were relatively well designed, legible, but sometimes had an inappropriate amount of text. Speaker was well prepared, did not stumble through content, spoke clearly and audibly, and kept the audience's attention. Slides were exceptionally well designed, legible, had the appropriate amount of text, and presented relevant content that made understanding the presentation easier.  

Assignment: Findability Website

Throughout the course you have begun to develop portions of a website that presents content about the various topics we have explored in class. These smaller projects, our class discussions, and your research now will all combine to become a site about the various aspects of findability. Use the design created for your blog as the template for the rest of the pages. Below is a sitemap for the website you will be creating:

Final-project-sitemap.png

Page Descriptions:

  • 1.0 Home: Write keyword rich copy for the home page that sums up the content of this site. Define target keywords using Google's keyword tool or Wordtracker. Identify keywords that people search for, but have relatively low competition. Use the markup techniques discussed in the course to create effective keyword density, and clear information hierarchy for search engines and users alike. Evaluate the keyword density of your pages using the online Keyword density and prominence tool. The design of your home page should clearly direct traffic to the key areas of the site.
  • 2.0 Findability Blog: Your research blog from the above assignment.
  • 3.0 SEO Best Practices: Summarize the techniques you have learned in the class and in your own research to create a findable website.
  • 4.0 Research Topic: Convert your research presentation into a web page using the same template design as is used in the rest of the site.
  • 5.0 Findability Resources: Create a page with links to valuable findability resources. Split the links into the following categories: SEO, email marketing, search, traffic analysis, my classmates (links to each student's blog). You should have at least 20 resource links in addition to the classmate links.
  • 6.0 Findability Vocabulary: Create a page using definition lists to create a findability vocabulary reference page. Include at least 10 definitions.
  • 7.0 About This Site: Create a page that describes how your site was built to improve findability, what strategies you used to register it with search engines, how you built inbound links, how you'll analyze your traffic to discover findability problems, and generally how you are directing traffic to the site. Include on this page the evaluation methods you used to assess your success.
  • 8.0 Contact: Create a contact page that presents your contact info in the hCard microformat. Include a link to download the information.
  • 9.0 Sitemap: Create a sitemap linking to all pages in the site facilitating better usability and search engine indexing of your pages.

Your site should also have the following:

  • sitemap.xml registered with Google, Yahoo, MSN Live, and Ask (link to it in the sitemap page so the instructor can evaluate it)
  • robots.txt preventing certain content form being indexed, and directing search engines to your sitemap.xml file
  • Google Analytics tracking
  • Semantic, accessible markup that employs the recommendations of Chapter 2: Markup Strategies from the first recommended course text
  • An integrated search tool with **OpenSearch** implemented so users can search without visiting your site
  • Use image replacement techniques to ensure the logo, though graphical, is presented with clear markup hierarchy
  • Creative commons licensing
  • A custom 404 page that helps lost users get back on track

Your site should use valid (X)HTML and CSS. For accessibility, validate your site to WCAG 1.0 single A with TAWDIS, or Section 508 Priority 1 with WAVE, depending on what is more suitable for your situation (). Place validation links in the footer of each page. Use Raven's SEO tools to evaluate your web site's SEO success before submitting the assignment.

Findability Website Grading Rubric Rubric

Criteria Performance Quality Score
0 points 1 point 2 points
Project Requirements Many project requirements are incomplete, and/or executed with poor production values. Most project requirements are met, but sometimes have poor production values. All project requirements are met, and executed with exceptional detail and professionalism.  
Markup Markup is poorly written, and does not communicate the information hierarchy in a way that will help SEO. Markup is relatively well written, and communicates information hierarchy in a way that will help SEO. Markup is exemplary, and clearly communicates information hierarchy in a way that will help SEO.  
Content Content is not cohesive, is poorly written, contains typos spelling and grammar errors, and does not follow the content quality recommendations outlined in chapter 4 of the textbook. Content is relatively cohesive, well-written, has a few minor typos spelling and grammar errors, and follows the content quality recommendations outlined in chapter 4 of the textbook. Content is cohesive, exceptionally well-written, free of typos spelling and grammar errors, and follows the content quality recommendations outlined in chapter 4 of the textbook.  
Design The design is unprofessional, not usable, and does not employ basic design principles. The home page is not designed to funnel traffic to key areas of the website. The design is professional, usable, intelligent, and relatively attractive. The home page is designed to funnel traffic to key areas of the website. The design is professional, usable, intelligent, exceptionally attractive, and thematically relevant to the topics of the course. The home page is very well designed to funnel traffic to key areas of the website.  

Examination Questions

General Theory

  • Define the term "findability", and describe its relationship to SEO, usability, information architecture, and accessibility.
  • Define the term "folksonomy" and describe its findability benefits.
  • Explain why findability should be considered throughout the project lifecycle rather than at the end of a project.
  • List the three primary goals of findability.
  • Why is it important to et your moral compass guide your way when implementing findability strategies?
  • Define the terms "Black Hat SEO" and "White Hat SEO".
  • What is a SERP?

Markup

  • List 4 benefits of using web standards when building your websites.
  • List 4 important (X)HTML tags that can play a significant role in communicating content prominence to search engines.
  • Describe how the use of web standards best practices can improve SEO.
  • Describe the role of meta tags (description, keywords, robots, author, geo) in making a web page optimized for search engines.
  • List and describe black hat SEO techniques that should be avoided to prevent getting black listed from search engine indexes.
  • List and describe methods to prevent search engines from indexing certain content.
  • Describe how frames, popup windows, deprecated markup, images maps and coding errors can present challenges for search engine spiders.
  • Will search engines give a website a boost in rankings if it passes W3C validation? Explain.
  • Do search engines penalize websites that use image replacement techniques? Explain.
  • Explain how you might make text in an image visible to search engines.
  • How might a table coded for accessibility improve content findability?
  • Explain how content in a <title> tag should be organized to foster findability, and usability.
  • Why is content in the <title> tag critical to reading your web analytics?

Microformats

  • Define the term microformat.
  • Describe a use case in which microformats would help improve findability and the user experience.
  • How might a user identify microformat content on a web page?
  • What major websites publish content in microformats?
  • Describe how you might make hCard or hCalendar microformat content downloadable to an address book or calendar application respectively.
  • Which search engines currently recognize microformats?
  • How can the rel-tag microformat be used to improve content findability?

Server-Side Strategies

  • Describe best practices in file and directory naming to improve SEO.
  • How might a domain name influence search engine rankings?
  • What are search engine friendly URLs, and how might you go about constructing them?
  • List 4 website optimization techniques that can speed up the indexing of a website.
  • Describe how the Google canonical problem can adversely affect a website's search ranking, and outline the solution to the problem.
  • Describe how dynamic URLs can be made search engine friendly.
  • Identify why younger domains tend to have lower search rankings.
  • Describe the best solution for directing users to a page that has been relocated while preserving the search ranking of the old page.
  • Why is it important to include a robots.txt file in a website? Where is it placed?
  • What role does a sitemap.xml file play in improving the findability of a website?
  • List important elements to be included on custom 404 error pages to get lost users back on track.

Content

  • Describe how high quality content that serves a target audience's needs can affect the findability of a website.
  • List and describe best practices in content creation that foster findability.
  • Describe how Creative Commons open licensing of content can potentially improve findability.
  • How might user-generated content influence findability?
  • How might the design of a home page influence content findability?
  • List 4 types of content that might could be added to an ecommerce site to improve findability.
  • Describe how aggregating content from social media sites can vastly improve findability.
  • Explain how you would research keywords to feature in your website for best SEO results, and how you could evaluate keyword density/prominence.
  • Describe the role of social networking websites in improving findability.

Findability Pitfalls

  • Identify how audio and video files should be presented on a website to ensure search engines can index the content.
  • Describe progressive enhancement and its role in SEO.
  • List and describe methods of presenting Flash content to improve SEO.
  • Describe the indexing problems posed by Ajax, and identify methods that could make Ajax more search engine friendly.

Search

  • List and describe tools and techniques that could be employed to add a search system to a website.
  • Describe OpenSearch and how it might be integrated into a website to improve findability.
  • Describe how logging search terms can inform a findability and content creation strategy.

Analytics

  • List and describe important web analytics metrics that are markers of findability success or failure.
  • Describe how heat maps and session recordings can inform the design of a web page.
  • Describe how web analytics software typically gathers information.
  • What is "bounce rate", and why is it a vital statistic to watch?

Resources

Essential SEO Tools

Microformats

Analytics Tools

Performance Optimization Tools

Learning Resources

Site Search Tools

Sitemaps.xml

Robots.txt

Audio and Video Transcription Services

Contributors

Primary course developer: Aarron Walter