SEO with PHP

4 comments | Posted: 11 May 07 in Books, by Nathan Smith

SEO with PHP Last year, I reviewed the book Ajax and PHP by Cristian Darie. Since then, he and I have kept in touch. When he asked if I would like to read his latest writing endeavor, Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP, I was immediately interested. He joined Jaimie Sirovich in co-authoring this one, and they are also writing a companion version on SEO with ASP.NET. Their ASP.NET edition will be available in August of 2007. First off, here’s a bit of background info about the authors.

Jaimie Sirovich is a self-titled “SEO Egghead” and is a hybrid programmer turned search engine marketer. What makes him uniquely qualified is that he understands the tech side of SEO and isn’t just a slimey snake oil salesman who spouts off conjecture. He has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, and a geeky sense of humor. Digging through his XHTML, I saw this meta data:

<meta name="savior" content="Jesus" />

Cristian Darie is a software engineer and PhD student, currently studying distributed application architecture for his dissertation. He has published several books on a variety of web topics – including: Ajax, ASP.NET, PHP and SQL. Needless to say, he is himself quite the server-side programmer as well.

The book starts off by defining who it is written for: PHP programmers and search engine marketers. Programmers will benefit because this book talks about the factors that help improve readability of URLs for both humans and search engines. For instance, using Apache’s mod_rewrite to create:

As opposed to:

Marketers will benefit from this book because rather than rely on the myriad of disinformation that is available (leading one another in circular logic), they can start to understand things from a more concrete perspective and begin to make more accurate assessments. If it’s true that All Marketers are Liars, then at least they will sound more convincing when it comes to SEO.

Once the basics are out of the way, this book delves into more tangible code examples, showing how to use .htaccess redirects as well as HTTP responses to your advantage. They also cover the concept of cloaking, such as employed by the New York Times, allowing search engines to index their content, but not cache it. This enables them to rank high in relevant search results, but also requires a subscription to read it. Apparently, Google turns a blind eye for big business, but potentially punishes smaller sites for such practices.

They also explain how to use “white hat” methods such as IP sniffing, to make sure that international readers receive pages that are relevant to their particular locale. While not always 100% accurate, this can assist in returning pages in the correct language for a particular country or region.

Additionally, they explain how to use sitemap XML and text files to describe to Google and Yahoo, respectively, the information architecture of your site. This is helpful for sites which are inherently inaccessible due to excessive use of Flash or Ajax. While it’s certainly no substitute for semantic code, at least search engines know you have more than just an index page.

Overall, this book is great. I appreciate their description of both accepted and unethical SEO, rather than obscuring dirty “black hat” tricks. Acknowledging these methods exist is necessary in order to spot them. While I don’t go out of my way for SEO when developing a site, I certainly don’t want to knowingly or ignorantly do anything that would hinder a site’s visibility.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Nate Klaiber

    I read through the first few chapters of this book last week. I liked what I had read. Nothing new for the most part (but could be new to many). I think that what it encourages/practices will help many. I like that they take the approach of quality SEO – instead of using poor techniques to try and up their rankings.

    What did you think of the chapter on sitemaps format? I have been using this for a while and consider it a very powerful tool (for the long term).

    Thanks for the review….

  2. 2 Nathan Smith

    Nate: I thought the chapter on sitemaps was pretty informative. I wasn’t aware that Yahoo and Google each have their own flavors of sitemap files, nor did I realize that there is a standardization effort underway to unify the format.

  3. 3 Art

    If you have any problems to create XML sitemap files for your sites or to notify search engines about updated sitemap files, try Sitemap Writer Pro. It is a powerfull tool that helps you to create and keep up-to-date sitemaps for your websites.
    Sitemap Writer Pro has new tools – FTP manager for uploading sitemaps, search engine notification tool (now supports and, site crawler for adding an URLs into the sitemap and Yahoo Index viewer.

  4. 4 Stephan H

    My friend Over at is mentioned in the book. He is the one who created the Chicklet Creator (Downloaded it at It is a great app that allows you to add feed buttons. I edited the buttons to follow the theme of my site.


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