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SEO the easy way

Nothing causes people more heartburn than SEO. There is probably nothing that is as difficult to fully understand yet so mission critical to your website. In todays blog I will try my best to make the fundamentals clear, highlighting the areas that often cause the most pain or lead to the biggest downfall in your sites SEO.
First of all, real quick: what is SEO. SEO stands for 'search engine optimization'. It is both the art and science of optimizing your website so people who are using search engines to find companies like yours find YOURS. OK, that seems pretty simple, so what's the big deal? I mentioned it's both and art and a science, let me explain.
Let's start with the Science, as Will Farrell would say "it's science" and it is. In simpliest terms your sites needs to be correctly tuned so Google and Bing and Yahoo can index your site correctly. The process si simple. These groups spider your website and look for key indicators: things like a sitemap file, the look for meta data, the evaluate your sites content, and more. If for example you don't have a sitemap file then you really have little chance of being indexed correctly. The sitemap file is a blueprint of your list, listing all pages you want the public to see.
Beyond that you need to tune your content, so important terms are enclosed in H tags (as an example) and that images are lightweight, relevant and have an appropriately defined alt tag.
There is much more too this, we haven't even mentioned well written or friendly urls for articles of blog posts etc... But before you nod off to sleep I want to talk about the art part of SEO.
We have a customer, we increased their site traffice by 700%, it was a good combined effort, they added new content and we tuned it for them, monitored the progress and re-tuned. However eventually they largely stopped adding content, and worse the never could understand why that part is important. Remember CONTENT IS EVERYTHING
The big search engine providers reward you greatly for providing fresh, relevant content... this leads to a higher placement in their search engine results and thus lies the art of SEO.
Relevant content is very very important. Through some analysis we can tell what key words are trending on the internet. But it's not so simple as telling the customer what key words to load up their site with. If a site's content changing too drastically to reflect a trending term (such as when a news story hits the the media news cycle and your site does a 180 degree about face to try to capture people searching on the news key words, you may get punished). Or if you stuff in too many key words for highly competitive terms and your site never focused on these terms before you might get punished. But probably the biggest cardinal sin is not updating your content. Once the search engines deem your site stale or static in content they devalue you and your search value goes down.
If that isn't hard enough to keep track off you must also consider what key words you want to focus on. If for instance your company sales toasters but suddenly coffe makers become all the rage if you do a full about face and focus on selling coffe makers the search engine groups may look at this abrupt change of direction as a gimmick. You need to slowly change course and monitor the results. Not only that but if the term you want to focus on is hugely competitive, like selling tablets as an example, you may be 100% prefectly SEO'd and have the art of content writing nails, but if you are trying to target a global audience you are wasting your time (unless you a fortune 500 reseller paying for a high ranking). In this case you need to geo target correctly so you have a realstic change on hitting a target audience.
Whew, ok that is all for now. Next blog either Aaron or I will talk about the McKula Inc. monitoring process and how you can take the analytics we give you and turn that information into money. Thanks again for reading, I'll see you soon.

SQL Server 2012/14 auto increment seeding issues

Prior to the release of SQL Server 2012 it was a safe bet that setting a table key identity to auto increment would be a good way to generate a usable incremental ID. By usable I mean a real world ID you could use, for example, to ID a help ticket. The first ticket entered would be ticket #1, the next ticket #2 and so, where the number was generated by the field key, which was an integer set to auto increment. You could argue this was always questionable practice, what you can't argue is that is wasn't easier than manually counting rows and storing an ID alias in a separate table. But with release 2012 of SQL you no longer have this luxury. And worse yet if you are potentially handling millions of rows your auto increment ID, which you may use in a non visible way, has the pontential to grow into a very large number, on the order of 16 bit or more.

So what happened?

Well Microsoft decided to reseed any auto increment field by 1000 when the service is restarted. So if you use this field in the example above you may suddenly see ticket #1, ticket #2, ticket #1003. Be warned, you can read more to Microsoft's reasoning for this here.