3rd October 2007

The Truth About FrontPage and SEO

While recently reading one of my favorite SEO e-Newsletters, HighRankings Advisor, my brain got stuck on a letter asking the newsletter editor (Jill Whalen – one of the foremost authorities on SEO) a question about Microsoft’s FrontPage HTML Editor, stating that they’d been told by an SEO firm that “the problem was that their site was written in FrontPage”……….

For those who don’t know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is simply designing your site and writing your content to help the search engines index it properly (and understand what your site is about) so that you can get good “ranking” in the search engine results, and thus get more traffic to your site. Over the years a huge number of SEO firms have sprung up to help site owners with this, for a fee of course. Some are good, reputable companies and others are, well,…not. There are definitely things you can (and should) be doing to optimize your site, as well as things you should not do, but none of it is difficult to learn, and HighRankings.com is a good place to start learning.

What got my blood boiling was that the SEO firm in question (that told the letter-writer that FrontPage was their problem) is clearly either a) highly ignorant, or b) highly unscrupulous. If you come across any SEO firm that tells you that your HTML editor is a problem and they offer to “fix it”, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Either they don’t know what they’re doing or they’re trying to scam you.

Granted, FrontPage is not a *great* HTML editor, nor is it even a *good* one, it is at best, mediocre. It creates messy HTML, and there are much better applications out there – some are even, like FrontPage, free. If you have the budget to buy an HTML editor, Adobe’s (formerly Macromedia’s) Dreamweaver is still the very best there is.

But all that aside, SEO has to do with how well you write your content, not how clean or messy your HTML is. If you spend the time to research your keywords and phrases (what folks use to search the internet to find your product or service), and structure your site to be easy to navigate and use, and write good content that speaks to your potential customers (consider hiring a copywriter if writing is not your strong suit), you should be able to achieve good search engine ranking regardless of what HTML editor you use.

The point is this: Anyone, even an SEO firm, can slam FrontPage just for being a crappy application, but for anyone to imply that it will “hurt” your rankings is just plain outlandish. Every good web designer needs to educate their clients about SEO *before* any site design work is started, and to steer them away from unscrupulous SEO companies.

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