Imagine you are visiting The Louvre Museum in Paris to see the most magnificent painting in the world, the Mona Lisa! But, when you get out of your hotel, you find the metro lines are down and the street signs are too confusing to read. You can’t get there!
That’s what happens to search engine spiders when they visit websites that are not search-engine friendly (SEF). They can’t get to your magnificent content.
Let’s back up a second.
Search engine spiders are the programs that go to your website, get the content and put it in the search engine’s database. This is how search engines fill their database with information to provide to a searcher. As you can see, if a spider cannot access your website, then your content doesn’t get into the database, and hence, doesn’t get a chance to be listed in search results.
And it’s pretty obvious that if your website doesn’t appear in search results, then searchers can’t click to your website, and you miss out on the opportunity to turn searchers into clients, or newsletter subscribers, or website sales.
One of the biggest factors that affects the SEF-ness (search engine friendly-ness or how well your website helps spiders get at your information) is linking.
Without getting too technical, the thing you need to know here is that spiders “like” links that easily take them from page to page within your website. They “dislike” links that are complicated to decipher or inaccessible.
The best links are simple text links.
Simple text links are the most common on the web and they are usually blue, underlined text like this: Visit Google (that takes you to Google’s search engine).
Other links which are often difficult for spiders to follow include:
Dynamic links – which are usually associated with databases that create fresh pages with content based on your choices. You can see them by looking at the address bar. You will see characters such as: ?, &, $, = and +.
Flash links – are for adding extra visual flare through animation.
Image links – you click on an image to get to another page. Image links aren’t as difficult as the others, but are less ideal for spiders.
Making sure your links are easy for spiders to follow is a big step in the right direction. Here are some more tips to further help you make your site friendly to spiders.
Be cautious of hosting services that provides automated site builders – they often use dynamic links that are difficult for spiders to follow.
If you hire a designer, be sure to ask if they practice SEF-fy (search engine friendly) design.
Build a sitemap that links all of your pages together using simple text links.
Don’t hide content in databases, unless it’s for a good reason, such as private access membership.
Make sure all your pages are linked up to other pages.
Check all the links on your website to verify that they all work.
In general, keep the coding of your website simple. This reduces the chances of a spider getting lost in the code.
If you haven’t done so, be sure to submit your website to the top three search engines today: Google, Yahoo and MSN. You can easily find the submission pages by doing a search – for example, “google submit url.”
Over time, about a month or two, spiders will make their way to your website. If your site is SEF, your pages will get into their databases.
SEF-ness gets your website into search engines. It’s an important prerequisite to building your online visibility. As your practice grows and you put more content on your website, like articles and blog posts, more searchers will find your site.
When your website becomes as popular as the Mona Lisa – you will be smiling too!
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