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Zend Framework SEO: Now There’s a SERP that needs help

Tsk tsk tsk… there is but one thing more annoying than a web programmer community site that doesn’t properly handle sessions. And that is a web programmer community site that posts a review of an SEO for PHP book, offers an opportunity to comment, but then then prevents me from posting my comment (presumably because of the sessions issue, but who cares why?).

Anyway that community site is Zend Developer Zone, and the less-than-stellar review I can’t comment on is for a SEO for PHP book over here.

If you search Zend Framework SEO you get three misleading results in the top three spots. You then get non-relevant stuff. We could really use some decent content ranking in that SERP for Zend Framework SEO. The top result is the most worriesome: a positive review for a book on SEO for PHP, that is misinformed and clearly biased. I would like to suggest that all SEO Consultants read that review, because it clearly demonstrates the bias held by PHP coders regarding SEO. Understand the perspective of that PHP coder writing the review, and you understand what I deal with when I work with tech teams on client projects.

Here is the response I wanted to post to the comments on that Zend Developer page:

I’m going to use this review as an example of how programmers view SEO. It demonstrates a bias quite well.

First let me say that if you are a PHP pro, comfortable with the ZF repository, you are far different from the majority of technologists responsible for SEO implementations.

Second, SEO is a dynamic discipline. Even the best book on SEO and PHP has to spend the bulk of it’s 300+ pages on enabling infrastructure. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not all you need to SEO your sites. Whenever the book recommends implementation tactics, that advice must be suspect because SEO factors change continuously.

Third, if you really know PHP, you recognize that 10 good PHP programmers will implement a web site on ZF 10 different ways. All on ZF, but all different. Same for SEO. Ten SEO-savvy people will SEO a web site 10 different ways. What’s different about SEO, however, is it is accountable. The implementation that was “best” is the one that out ranks the others.

Which brings me to the final point: SEO tactics by themeselves are like ZF by itself: basically useless. ZF is an enabling framework for web app development. SEO is a framework for ranking on targeted search phrases. Would you implement ZF for a project without a good PHP coder? Why do you think you can implement SEO without a good SEO?

I’m not saying you can’t.. I’m not much of a PHP coder but I deploy PHP web sites all by myself and they do their job. But I know very well the value of a good PHP coder, even when I decide against hiring one for a project.

Now I would expect this to be WAY over the head of most SEOs, because very few SEOs are so advanced in their PHP work to be working with the latest release of the Zend Framework. That’s not an elitist statement – I am far from a good PHP coder. But I do work with ZF and it is non-trivial stuff. You really need to be waste high in PHP development world to understand how ZF is properly deployed SEO-wise; much more than user-level involvement. What SEO has time besides the tech team (PHP coders) or the PHP-skilled self-practioner? And that is the problem.. those PHP guys will read that review and get misdirected. I have greatest respect for those who SEO for themselves, and especially those competitive webmasters with mad PHP skillz. And I’m all for selling books if you’re friends are writing them. But I dislike reading bad SEO advice, no matter the context.

These are the current top four results in Google for Zend Framework SEO:

Zend Developer Zone | Search Engine Friendly Websites with the …
The Zend Framework allows for websites that are search engine friendly, although some thought needs to be taken when building your application. …
devzone.zend.com/article/949-Search-Engine-Friendly-Websites-with-the-Zend-Framework – 35k – Cached – Similar pages

Zend Developer Zone
Zend Framework and the New Hybrid Designer … (the lovely and talented Kathy) attended a very expensive conference on SEO put on by 4 SEO Professionals. …
devzone.zend.com/ – 30k – Jul 24, 2007 – Cached – Similar pages

SEO friendly URL’s on Zend Framework – Zend Framework Forum
Hello, I am very concern about SEO things for some websites and i am wondering what can do ZF for us. This is in fact the main reason for which i didn’
www.zfforums.com/…/search-engine-optimization-friendly-urls-zend-framework-44.html – 74k – Cached – Similar pages

AJAX Tooling For Zend Framework Will Be a Full Development …
Also on the future roadmap is AJAX tooling for the Zend framework. … By SEO/SEM News Desk. FTC Probing Microsoft & Yahoo Ad Deals As Well As Google’s …
search.sys-con.com/read/397497.htm – 76k – Cached – Similar pages

What would be really cool to see? Stuff that matter when considering SEO on Zend Framework? How about:

Having your Cake and Eating it 2.0 : Using a front controller with strict URLs. Rerouter Black Magic for Zend Framework.

Cross-platform Trailing Slash redirection: We don’t need to stinkin’ Apache

Getting More out of URLs: 100 Ways to encode infrastructure bits into URLs to drive SEOs Crazy: (starts with CamelCase parsing, moves on to underscores, hacks its way to hyphens and finally configurabe separators! Plenty of language-specific issues included!

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10 Responses to “Zend Framework SEO: Now There’s a SERP that needs help”

  1. Todd Mintz Says:

    Yep…way over my head:.) I think I need to drink stronger coffee…

  2. Neil Says:

    Looks like your comment got through in the end… 3 times.

  3. Cal Evans Says:

    Thanks for the comment you posted on DevZone.

    I apologize for the trouble you had posting on our site. It’s a known issue and one that we are working on. I am confused about your session comments as the issue, if it’s the one we have traced down, has nothing to do with sessions. If you have evidence to the contrary, I would appreciate you sending me an email sharing it so that we can continue to improve our site. (BTW, I deleted the duplicate posts, leaving your original. They will disappear when our cache expires)

    One of the things that puzzles me about your article is why this article is about the Zend Framework and SEO. The neither the book nor my review have nothing to do with the framework yet your article seems to indicate otherwise. I don’t have my copy of the book handy but off the top of my head, I don’t remember the framework being mentioned in it at all. The book concentrates on SEO techniques and (where applicable) the general PHP programming techniques necessary to implement them. So I’m really curious why you chose to include the name of a specific framework in your title. Especially since Google may eventually rank this article high enough to hit the front page of a search, even though it does not add anything to the body of knowledge about how to implement SEO techniques within the confines of the framework.

    Another point where your article confuses me is when you say that the review is less than stellar. I can only assume you mean that you disagree with my opinion of SEO professionals as my conclusion about the book is:

    “I would recommend this book to any PHP developer interested in helping their clients with SEO.”

    That’s about as strong of a positive as I give in book reviews. I’m really unclear as to how this will “misdirect” any PHP developer considering purchasing the book. (unless you just didn’t like the book, in which case, that’s fine, you can’t please everyone)

    Finally, when I search Google for “Zend framework” SEO (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=“Zend Framework” SEO&btnG=Search) I get the same results as you.

    Possibly it’s because that I am not an SEO professional but as a programmer I disagree with you about the results being irrelevant. The first article that comes up gives specific advice and code samples for building SEO friendly URLs in applications built using. As a programmer, when executing that search, that’s really the kind of content I would want to come up.

    The Google search above comes up with 611,000 hits. Just glancing at the articles on the first page give me a good feeling that if I cared for programming advice on how to implement the SEO techniques that can be implemented in code, I would have no problem finding the code I need.

    Thank you again for reading the review and taking the time to post a comment on the site.

    Sincerely,
    =C=

  4. john andrews Says:

    Hi Cal and thanks for responding. As I noted, I don’t know if there is a sessions issue behind the posting problem. I do know it’s frustrating, and I recall trying harder last time with different browsers, which led me to suspect a sessions issue. I don’t recall why, and did not troubleshoot much. That was quite a while ago.

    RE: Your question about the post title: I searched Zend Framework SEO and found that review of PHP/SEO on the Zend site. The Zend site is for PHP coders. My post says the SERP for Zend Framework SEO needs help.. hence the title. Your review of a PHP for SEO book, on the Zend site (the same PHP company that publishes the Zend Framework) connected things for me. I assume it would also connect things for other PHP coders (working with ZF) who searched for SEO information related to Zend Framework.

    Just to clarify, if the SERP were improved, your editorial review would probably not appear if, as you say, it has nothing to do with Zend Framework. Again, that’s what I mean by “the SERP needs help”. In SEO publishing circles, that would suggest someone needs to write some good SEO for ZF content and get it indexed (or that someone could, because there is opportunity, in other words, it’s not a very competitive search.

    Now, since you asked, why did I say the review was “less than stellar”? Because I found the review very biased. I found it predisposed towards a perspective on SEO in general that is not shared by everyone, and not supported by the book (I assume that, given the book’s topic). I believe a review should focus on the subject matter, not use the subject matter to confirm or support a predisposed opinion. It would be great if a PHP person who cares about modern SEO reviewed the book. That would be more meaningful than a PHP person who ranks SEO professionals below used car salesmen. Right away based on your admissions, I don’t think you’re quaified to review the book. That, among other things, makes the review “less than stellar”.

    Rather than continue this too-long comment, I’ve got an idea fo a new post.

  5. Cal Evans Says:

    Good morning John,

    Thanks for answering. While waiting for your next post, I do have a question. This is asked out of ignorance of SEO techniques, other than SEO friendly URLs, what techniques SEO do you expect to implement through a framework?

    =C=

  6. Postcards From My Life » Blog Archive » People Who Block FireFox Are Just Stupid Says:

    […] A while back a blogger named John wrote a snarky review of my review of Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP. While his review was a bit on the “untrue” side and prompted me to write Just Say No to SEO, his blog was interesting enough to put in my feed reader and follow. Heck, from time to time, I even clicked through and read an entire entry and believe I even commented once. […]

  7. Adam Prall Says:

    Haha, I love the way you wrote this. Of course, it’s gonna be hard for those diehard URL encoders (and probably quite a few Java heads) to handle…

  8. john andrews Says:

    @Adam I think that is job security for the SEO people.

  9. Rich Says:

    I’m sorry, but I’m still confused as to exactly how an application framework impacts SEO? Seems like you dodged Cal’s question up there at #5. All the frameworks I’ve used (symfony, ZF, CI) allow complete control over whats rendered as well as the URL structure. I know this is an old/dead topic, but I’m curious as to your response.

    @Rich: Perhaps we need to clarify what “complete control” means. There are many facets of SEO that are impacted by the framework, but of course just about anything can be done by modifying the framework, so we need to draw a line somewhere. At the time of this post, for example, Zend Framework did not yet have a full rewrite router integrated into it. So if you wanted to manage URLs for SEO, you had to go outside of the framework (to mod rewrite) or try to work out a customization by modifying the framework. For example, relying only on the framework’s control of views/rendering meant you could not enforce strict URLs (one URL per web resource or rendered view). That was not a reasonable customization due to the ZF conventions in use at the time.

    I did not directly answer Cal’s #5 because it is both too general a question for my taste, and because the answer would reveal too much of what I consider to be competitive information. The fundamentals of SEO are well described on the net. Implementing SEO is a strategic craft left to the practitioner, who in fact competes in the search engines with other SEO practitioners.

  10. » Open Source Skills: Been There, Done That - John Andrews - johnon.com Says:

    […] do you mean by SEO for Magento. It’s already search engine optimized, because it runs on Zend Framework” I will likely switch from Pinot Noir back to Jameson. Yes frameworks are about best practice […]