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POCC Meeting Report – SEO, Web Scalability and Olio

Dhananjay Nene wrote this detailed report on the Pune OpenCoffee Club meeting last Saturday, which covered Search Engine Optimization by Dimakh Sahasrabuddhe, and Web Scalability by Hashamkha Pathan of SUN. We have reproduced it here with his permission for the benefit of PuneTech readers.

Went to the Pune OpenCoffee Club meet yesterday. It was supposed to focus on Search Engine Optimisation, Web Scalability and Sun Startup Essentials Program.

Search Engine Optimisation – Dimakh Sahasrabuddhe, Dimakh Consultants

I really liked this session. It is always refreshing to see a very down to earth speaker explain things broken down in a very simple way (tinge of jealousy at my end ?). While I feel like a ??? ????? (half doctor or amatuer) on this topic since I know only parts of it, I came back with some more insights into the space and some comfort in knowledge that the little I knew wasn’t way off the mark.

Anyways, here’s what Dimakh had to say on the topic :

Make sure you know what keywords you are conducting the SEO. Don’t forget the site name itself in the process. For good SEO, focus on the following issues (listed in a descending priority as per Dimakh, he said Google hasn’t ever published the priorities)

  • Content : It is important to make sure your content is in tune with the desired topics and keywords. Make sure the keywords (and sometimes even the phrases) you want to optimise for are covered in the content. Google does look at the keyword density in the content and that can influence your site rankings.
  • Domain : It is preferable to have the important word or two about your site in the domain itself. eg. You may consider having a site domain as sushrut-icecream-parlour.com instead of sushrut.com (I am not sure if he would’ve preferred the hyphens there – just applying my own thoughts here).
  • Filename : Make sure your filenames (ie. those in the URL) actually reflect the content.
  • Tags : Ensure that the tags (meta?) reflect the content appropriately
  • Alt Tags : Use the alt tags to enrich the information available to the search engine to better understand the images or hyperlinks. Keep them short but give enough info to the search engine eg. in a link to a file called enquiry.html, have the alt tag mention “Enquiry for Motors”.
  • Internal Links : Make sure it is easy for the spider to traverse through your site using the various links. Sometimes you may want to provide an alternative navigation mechanism if the default mechanism is not easily understood by a search engine (I assume he was referring to things like a Flash based navigation)
  • External Links : I really couldn’t understand what he implied here (probably because I got a little lost into thinking when I should’ve been listening), but some could help fill out the stuff in the comments below.

Finally Dimakh mentioned Seo Root and Google Rankings as sites to visit for further learnings. On the whole a very helpful session. One more karma point Pune Open Coffee Club earned in my books.

Web Scalability by Sun Microsystems :

(I missed the first couple of mins, hence didn’t catch the presenter names). (The presenter was Hashamkha Pathan from Sun. -Navin) The presentation focused on a toolkit designed for prototyping various technical and architectural issues around web 2.0 applications called Olio. Its a very nice and capable tool which in the words of the web site can be used for the following activities :

  • Understand how to use various web2.0 technologies such as AJAX, memcached, mogileFS etc. in the creation of your own application. Use the code in the application to understand the subtle complexities involved and how to get around issues with these technologies.
  • Evaluate the differences in the three implementations: php, ruby and java to understand which might best work for your situation.
  • Within each implementation, evaluate different infrastructure technologies by changing the servers used (e.g: apache vs lighttpd, mysql vs postgre, ruby vs Jruby etc.)
  • Drive load against the application to evaluate the performance and scalability of the chosen platform.
  • Experiment with different algorithms (e.g. memcache locking, a different DB access API) by replacing portions of code in the application.

An excellent piece of content that was poorly targeted imho. Sun has an extended amount of experience dealing with enterprise architects, and this was a really wonderful presentation which most enterprise architects would’ve understood easily. This particular community of people often need to do their homework very well, and usually are allowed a fair amount of time and money to do their homework, and in many cases also have access to a body of people who are also equally capable in working out various issues related to architecture.

I really think this is a useful tool which can be used by startups but that they shall need to spend the time to understand the tool and what it could do for them. However it is not a point and shoot kind of a tool. Based on the questions I could very easily understand that most persons very quickly ended up assuming that the tool could do much more than what the tool authors ever intended, and then felt disappointed. This was really a situation of positioning gone awry and I think Sun will need some more effort in positioning the presentation in its early stages to prevent disappointment later.

Finally as in a question I did ask quite explicitly, the reason why it makes sense for Sun to invest in and open source such a tool, is that this tool really forces you to do your homework well in the first place. If you were to do your homework well in the first place and focus on performance and scalability early on, the tool usage would tell you to either focus on Java or more infrastructure to handle high load or low read percentage scenarios. These are very reasonable and sensible outputs of the tool. What olio does not tell you is the set of tradeoffs which are outside its scope, impact of the various choices of languages and toolkits on spead of release, agility, robustness and maintainability – that is something that the startup architect will need to come to some decision independently.

Finally sun talked about its Startup Essentials Program which offered various promotional incentives to startups. Very useful incentives, though I would advise people to evaluate if usage of such incentives introduces a small degree of lockin onto open solaris (I like opensolaris – just would ensure that I would use it in a manner that doesn’t introduce too much lock in), and also the post production cost implications including support. There were a fair degree of questions through the session, and I think as an audience it makes sense to pause and take the matter offline if the proceedings continue to be stuck at a stage after two or three questions.

Update: A presentation similar to the one presented can be found on Olio site at Olio Presentation

In parting

All in all a very useful session, and a left me with the desire to attend more sessions subsequently. Thanks POCC and all the organisers.

About the Author – Dhananjay Nene

Dhananjay is a Pune-based software Engineer with 17 years in the field. Passionate about software engineering, programming, design and architecture. For more info, check out his PuneTech wiki profile. He blogs about software engineering and programming languages at /var/log/mind, and other more general topics at /home/dhananjay.

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