I remember the days when search engine optimization was a black art of analyzing and improving on-page factors.  WebPosition Gold was king, and people obsessed over keyword density and which HTML tags to use.  The WebPosition Gold manual went so far as to recommend optimizing content for different search engines individually, thusly creating different pages with similar content optimized with different densities and tags.

Now, in 2006, that would be called duplicate content.  The struggle today is creating a site with interactive content and navigation with no duplicate content, with fancy rewritten URLs, with good internal linking-structure, etc.  I read a thread on SearchEngineWatch recently where someone asked which skill everyone would like to hone.  Almost all of them enumerated programming as at least one of the skills (http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?t=11945).  This does not surprise me.

When people ask me where I'd suggest spending money in an SEO plan, I always recommend making sure that one is starting with a sound basis.  If one doesn't exist, this probably means hiring a programming and design firm.  Only then should one worry about the other stuff.  If your site stinks structurally, it's like turmpeting your message about the top of a house of cards — not a mountain.  Some design firms I know of are: RustyBrick, PixelMesh, and WebProSys. I also do consulting, but I don't work cheap, and I'm only one guy.  The site I'm working on now is LawyerSeek.  Contact me only if my office is in a vacation house in a tropical climate :)

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