Evangelizing Mainframe
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Tips For Getting Your Website Running and Optimized

There are lots of mainframers out there who have given up the day job–either because they wanted to have more of a life or because their organization decided to “let them go”–but don’t want to give up work completely. And these people have probably created their own website to tell potential employers about their expertise and years of experience. But how do you make sure that people will find your website (which, I assume, as technical folks, you’d write and build yourself) on a search engine? What easy techniques are there for search engine optimization (SEO)?

The first thing to avoid is duplicate content on your site, but here’s the first problem, the search engine may treat sites that can be accessed with and without www (e.g., www.domainname.com and domainname.com) as duplicate content. So, if people can access your site with and without the www part of the address, you have duplicate content without knowing about it. The solution to the problem is to use 301 redirects. These are bits of server-side code that permanently redirect from one URL to another, probably the one with www in it.

Make sure your site is responsive. That means it must look good on a laptop, tablet and smartphone. Search engines like sites that are responsive. They also like links, so try to have lots of pages that link to each other. And ensure what you say in the meta tags is repeated in the body text.

Next, make sure your sitemap is up to date. XML sitemaps contain a list of the URLs that exist on your website and, importantly, allow search engines to read the pages more intelligently. Sitemaps usually include information about the site’s latest updates, frequency of change and the importance of URLs. The problem for most people is they add new pages, or delete older pages that aren’t quite right, and don’t update the sitemap, making it harder for search engines to find those new pages.

Do you use Flash on your site? Lots of sites do because it was a fairly easy way to add content to a website. The problem is Flash content can't be properly indexed by search engines. So, to maximize SEO, stop using Flash. The other reason is that Flash and Silverlight don’t usually work on tablets and smartphones. With HTML5, you can use the <canvas> tag to draw graphics on-the-fly using JavaScript. JavaScript actually draws the graphics; the <canvas> tag acts as a container for the graphics.

The other thing search engines have a problem with are frames. Again, they can’t crawl or index the content within them. So avoid using them.

One thing you might not think about is font size. It’s recommended that the base font size is 16 pixel so that it’s easily legible on mobile devices. The second thing to consider is the Viewport meta tag. This specifies the area of a web page that’s visible to the user and varies between devices (particularly smartphones and tablets). Set it to:

content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0”

One way to reduce the length of time it takes to load a web page on any device is the size of the page. An easy way to reduce the size of a page is to compress it–and you can do that with gzip compression. This can be enabled using .htaccess, Apache, Nginx and Litespeed webservers. The other things to compress are the CSS files. This is done using minify. Minify takes the easy to read CSS files and removes the spacing, indentation, newlines and comments (which makes them harder to read by a human). You can also minify JavaScript. And you can minify your graphics, leaving them clearly viewable on a screen but removing as much information from the image file as possible.

One thing you may not have come across is Schema.org, which was founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex. This provides a way to highlight information in the code on a web page so search engines can use it to refine search results, filter with greater accuracy and enhance the way results are displayed. This makes it easier for potential clients to find the information they're looking for (e.g., street address, postcode, phone number, etc.).

Lastly, you should think about changing from http:// to https://. By using an SSL certificate, you’re creating an encrypted connection between your visitor's browser and your website's server. In 2014, Google announced HTTPS would become part of its ranking algorithm, so it’s worth having it just for that.

And, if you can, add a video to your page. Search engines like videos, which will help optimize your website on a search.

I hope that helps improve the SEO on your website. And I hope you get plenty of traffic and offers of mainframe consulting work. If you have built a website, what tips do you have to share? Please leave them in the comments below.

Trevor Eddolls is CEO at iTech-Ed Ltd, an IT consultancy. A popular speaker and blogger, he currently chairs the Virtual IMS and Virtual CICS user groups. He’s editorial director for the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook, and was an IBM Champion between 2009 and 2016.

Posted: 7/18/2017 12:30:06 AM by Trevor Eddolls

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