Five years ago, I was working at Great Schools, and got interested in SEO. I started running all sorts of experiments on my own site, to understand how I could affect things. I reorganized the URLs, added keywords, and followed all the standard recommendations.

I quickly realized little tweaks to URLs, meta tags, and optimizing keyword density wasn’t going to help much. These types of changes really are “optimizations”– they’ll give you a small percentage increase, but they are not game changers. If you’ve got millions of visitors, a 1% may mean real money, but if you’re me, it doesn’t matter.

So, after working on SEO, I pursued another idea. Why not create something of real value to drive people to my site? I had an idea and created some “cheat sheets” to help me with my own development. I created them, and then posted them where I could to get some inbound links. Shortly thereafter, someone at O’Reilly found my page and linked to it, and all of a sudden I was getting hundreds of page views per day. So that was my lesson: If I provide something of value, people will come. That was five years ago. Even though technology changes fast, I still have a bit of tail from those original cheat sheets.

Last night, I decided that since of 80% of the people hitting my site are seeing those pages, I should take a look at them and see what impression they might be making. I really don’t have a “goal” of driving traffic anywhere else, but I might as well make them look as good as I can. So I cleaned up the visual design and fixed the editing.

Check out the spruced up pages here: Hibernate Mapping and JSPx Cheatsheet.