Applying Lean Development (and SEO)

We tackle the hard software problems. Every day Eureka works on products that have to scale to support millions of users and need to mask complex interaction behind elegant user interfaces. So how do we tackle something equally complex, like SEO, that we don’t do every day? The same way we approach our software projects! We stay lean, we test, we iterate, and we perfect.

When faced with needing to increase traffic for an underperforming website, we did just that.

We aren’t experts in SEO, but take a look at the web traffic chart below to see how well we did:

See a difference? That’s more than a 10-fold increase in traffic — not too shabby for software developers masquerading as SEO experts! What you don’t see in the chart are the numerous adjustments tested to see what worked best in the post-Penguin world. Over several weeks this summer we tweaked and evaluated, and once we had our data, a cohesive redesign was completed to incorporate what was learned. This simple test-and-improve approach is the essence of lean development… and it also proved quite effective for optimizing this site.

Here are a few things simple things we learned:

  • Create good content, and lots of it. We’ve become fans of the “single page site” layout, and it gives designers a large canvas to lay down relevant content. It also works great for mobile users who can easily scroll through your content.
  • Dump non-indexable media: Flash and bitmapped structure are out. Make your site more consumable for both for humans and site crawlers by using modern native HTML techniques.
  • Use widely available typefaces (like Typekit) instead of pre-rendering exotic text into images. Your designer may not find the exact font he/she wants, but indexing a “close” font is better than not indexing the perfect one.
  • And one Don’t: One of the big changes putting sites in the Penguin penalty box is the excessive use of site-wide links in page footers. For legitimate site navigation in your footer, use nofollow links.

Remember, SEO is a bit of an art, and some would say a black art at that, so your results may vary. But this message isn’t just about SEO. It’s about problem solving, and it’s about how we approach building software. To paraphrase Edison, building great software is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration — test and iterate until you achieve genius! It’s not enough to write code once and be done. Great software is about execution and process, and frankly, it’s hard work. But it’s what we wake up and do each day, and it has made Eureka and our customers successful for over 25 years.

One last thing: You know that underperforming site we fixed? It was our own. Check out the new