May 1, 2003
Why Isn't My Website In The Search Engine?
If your site isn't found in the search engines, it is probably
because the robots couldn't deal with it. It could be something
as simple as not being able to find the site, or it may be more
complicated issues involving the robot's not being able to crawl
the site or figure out what your pages are all about.
Submitting your site to the major search engines: that will
help with the "can't find it" problem. Even having
links pointing back to your site can be enough to attract the
search engine robots. Google, for example, suggests that you
may not have to submit your pages; they will find your site
if you have a link pointing back to it from at least one other
site on the web.
If the robots can find your site but can't make sense of it,
then you may need to look at the content and technology used
on your pages. Frames, Flash, dynamically generated pages, and
invalid HTML source code can cause problems when the search
engine robot tries to access your web pages. While some search
engines are beginning to be able to index dynamically generated
pages and Flash (e.g. Google and AllTheWeb), use of some of
these technologies can hinder your ability to be indexed by
the search engine robots.
Text in images cannot be read by the search engine robots.
Using ALT image text is an important way to help the robots
"read" your images. Websites with extensive images
rely heavily on ALT text to present their content.
How Do I Get The Most Out Of Indexing?
If you know what to "feed" the spidering robots you
will help yourself with search engine ranking.
Having a website full of good content is the major factor.
Search engines exist to serve their visitors, not to rank your
website. You need to be sure to present yourself in your site
in the way that will be most useful to the search engine visitor.
Each search engine has its own idea of what is important in
a page, but they all value text highly. Making sure that the
text on your pages includes your most important keyword phrases
will help the search engine evaluate the content of those pages.
Making sure that you have good title and meta tags will further
assist the search engines in understanding what your page is
about. If the text on the page is about widgets, the title is
about widgets, and the meta tags are about widgets, the search
engine will have a pretty good idea that you are all about widgets.
When their visitors search for widgets, the search engines know
to list your site in the results.
A sitemap page is a very good way of giving the search engine
robot every opportunity to reach your website pages. Since robots
click through the links of your web pages, make sure that at
least your most important pages are included in the sitemap;
you may even want to include all your pages there, depending
on the size of your site. Be sure to add a link to the sitemap
page from each page on your site.
Another important consideration is that of keeping all of your
pages within a small number of "clicks" from your
top page. Many robots will not follow links more than two or
three levels deep, so if your "widgets" page can only
be reached from your home page by following multiple links (e.g.
home page >> about us page >> products page >>
widgets page), the robot may not crawl deep enough to get to
the widgets page.
Testing Your Website For Search Engine Robot
To get an idea just what the search engine robot "sees"
on your page, you can look at the Sim Spider tool. You may be
surprised at how different your site looks to the robot. You
can find this tool at http://www.searchengineworld.com/cgi-bin/sim_spider.cgi
You will see text and ALT image text show up in the results.
If your entire website is built in Flash, you will see nothing
at all because robots don't understand Flash movies.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to search engine robots, think simply. Lots of
good content and text, hyperlinks the robots can follow, optimization
of your pages, topical links pointing back to your site and
a sitemap will help insure the best results when the robots
# # #
Daria Goetsch is the founder and Search Engine Marketing Consultant
for Search Innovation Marketing (www.searchinnovation.com),
a Search Engine Promotion company serving small businesses.
Besides running her own company, Daria is an associate of WebMama.com,
an Internet web marketing strategies company. She has specialized
in search engine optimization since 1998, including three years
as the Search Engine Specialist for O'Reilly & Associates,
a technical book publishing company.
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