posted on February 15th, 2012

The Difference between Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Compliance

Many web development firms claim they can produce search engine friendly websites and there is nothing wrong with this claim. The CMS technology has come a long way and most of the content management systems are built to output search engine friendly URL structures and at the same time they minimize the other negative SEO signals like duplicate content and URL canonicalization too.

However, when a web development company misconstrues their offering as “search engine optimized”, there is a case for the client to look deeper into it. As a premier web marketing firm, our project estimates typically start with an overall understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the client website. We get daily requests to redesign and revamp websites and this is when our creative team works with the search marketing team to identify issues with search visibility and conversion optimization on the websites. Our solutions are as much about visitor conversion and interaction as they are about design and programming.

A search engine optimized website is different from a search engine compliant website. First, let us understand what makes a website search engine compliant.

  • Your website URLs should be short and it should carry keywords– If you have a static website then this is never an issue as you can decide how you will construct a URL. However, if your website is CMS based, the URL structure should be like: and not

  • .htaccess redirect – If you’re are looking for changing your static website to a CMS driven site, you should redirect the older URLs to the new ones to preserve the link juice.

  • Robots exclusion protocol – Your web design firm should know how to exclude the private pages, login screens, register boxes and user pages from being indexed in search engines.

  • A search engine compliant website has provision to add a title element, headings and image alt attributes and title attributes.

  • A search engine compliant website should be easily indexed in search engines and should be cached too. The pages should load fast and all the Javascript and CSS code should be in an external file(s).

  • You should be able to generate XML sitemaps for all the URLs – this is important for membership type websites where new users are created every day.

A search engine optimized website is a different beast altogether. Search engine optimization is a web marketing service where SEO experts would ensure that your websites rank on the first page in search engines like Google. While, it is not easy to explain the process of SEO in one single blog post, here are some attributes of a search engine-optimized website:

  • An optimized website is built on a proper keyword base. A typical website can support 2x to 3x keywords as there are pages. These should be divided into words with primary focus and secondary focus.

  • An optimized website is the one which when redesigned doesn’t lose rankings and link juice.

  • An optimized website has properly written title and Meta tags which comply with search engines’ standards in terms of character length.

  • An optimized website has a hierarchy to every page on it with properly defined main and sub headlines.

  • An optimized website has keywords in folder names, URL paths, image file names and has title attributes for all HTML elements like DIVs, tables, images, paragraphs, lists and headlines.

·         More important than anything else, an optimized website should rank well and receive traffic from search engines with a minimal bounce rate.

As the saying goes – proof of the pudding lies in its taste. It is true that a website should rank well in search engines to qualify as “optimized”. Contact us if you want us to look at your compliant website and turn it into a ranking superstar. 


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