Becoming a Search Result on Google
If it isn't in Google, it probably doesn't exist. This may be an exaggerated statement, but a lot of people act as if it were true. Explore the things you can do in order to help Google find you and index your pages.
If it isn't in Google, it probably doesn't exist. That statement may strike you as an exaggeration, but a lot of people act as if it were true. They run a quick Google search, and if they don't find what they're after right away, they're more likely to adjust their query than move on to another search engine. So if your site is listed on AltaVista, Yahoo, and every other search index on the planet, but Google doesn't know about it, chances are good that millions of people are going to miss it, too.
In addition, it's not just Google proper you should be concerned about. Google's reach is broad, powering the Web search features of AOL and Amazon, your neighour's website or blog, even other search engines like Lycos. And those are just the obvious ones proudly displaying a "Google Search". Many more use Google as an underyling search service without announcing the fact.
So if you have a site and you want people to find it, you have to get in Google. Here's what we won't tell you: tips on gaming the Google engine, interfering with the proper functioning of its index or otherwise playing the Google ranking game unfairly. While Google tries its hardest to keep up with such attempts - and does a pretty good job of it - people have found some dirty tricks that pay off in the short run. If you came to this article looking for that sort of edge, you'd best look elsewhere. A sense of fairness ought to keep you playing straight. But if it doesn't, consider this: Google is known for ignoring or even removing from its database sites that try to trick the crawlers or interfere in the proper operation of the Google engine. Don't become one of the tens of thousands of losers each day who are blacklisted by Google.
Getting Your Site Ready for Google
If you want people - and Google - to notice your site, you've got to make it presentable. That means paying attention to visual, interactive and technical details.
While Google doesn't give care for your choice of colour scheme or whether your humour site is actually funny, it does care about many of the same things your visitors do. If your site is difficult for Google to roam through and road, the search engine is unlikely to index it properly and thus include it in search results as you'd like.
Here's some of the things you can do in order to win friends and influence Google:
Don't Hide Indoors
Google only tracks what is actually on the Web and readily accessible. Just because your site is on a server, doesn't mean other people can see it. If you trap your site behind a corporate firewall, at the end of a cable-modem or DSL link that doesn't allow traffic to your home server, or in any other way make it unreachable to the general public, Google will never find it. It may sound obvious, but many a fledgling Webmaster has missed this point. Don't be one of them.
If you set up your site at work and you can't reach it from outside your corporate networ, chances are your company doesn't like its employees running web sites from its computers and has set their system to prevent it. Check with your IT department about their policy and where best to put your site on their system.
If you've set up your site at home, make sure your Internet Service Provider lets you run a server over their network. Many don't, so it's important to ask. But they may well provide some space for your site on their own servers. In fact, most individuals' sites actually live on their ISP's servers, or third party hosting companies.
Google - and your visitors - are likely to be put off by complex URLs that are hard to decode and differentiate from one another. For instance, nobody but you and your server knows what to make of http://www.example.com/products.cgi?cat=autoparts&partnum=6502.
Humans like easily readable, memorable addresses. But Google has its own logic for avoiding complicated URLs. The problem, as Google sees it, is that complex addresses often point to dynamic pages - those that your site has created temporarily, in response to a query. And a dynamic page suggests to Google that your site may have a large database underlying it - one that would take its spiders eons to discern all the possible ways people could view that data.
- You can spot dynamic pages easily: they include a "?" in the URL -
For example, say your site sells socks and it's connected to your huge database containing descriptions and prices for thousands of pairs of socks. When somebody searches your website for 'blue children's socks'. your site might generate a page just for that person, showing the eight items that match that query. If Google catches a whiff of this setup, it flees in terror, assuming that to properly track your site it would need to index thousands of millions of pages, many of which might show the same thing in a different order.
The most well-known system for creating dynamic pages is called GCI, which stands for Common Gateway Interface and is the "Look at me, I'm building Web pages on the fly" of file types. CGI scripts are bits of programming code you can set to build web pages on request out of databases and other bits and bobs. If you're using CGI scripts, Google may not properly index your site, which is what's happening if Google seems to know about all of your site except for the parts served up by a CGI script. It the situation were dire enough (that is Google is ignoring you altogether), you might want to consider reconfiguring your system.
Because it knows what it's getting, Google is more comfortable with sites consisting of pages that you always have up (known as static pages). URLs with endings like .html and .htm indicate stability and are thus Google-friendly.
Provide a clear path into your site
Google, like humans, hates wasting time on superfluous pages. The most serious offender is the splash page, that annoying intro page that you sometimes have to view or click through before you get to a site's real home page. Splash pages typically feature Flash animations that can suck important minutes out of your day, but offer nary a real link to anything. Google - and many visitors - take a dim view of splash pages. Do everyone a favour and skip them. You can show off your graphic sensibility and your Flash skills on real pages in your site.
Don't use frames if you can help it.
Frames - pieces of web pages you can designate to appear independently of other items on a page, like scrolling a scrolling column that moves while the navigation bar next to it stays put - are confusing to robots and people alike. Use them sparingly, if you must use them at all, and label them clearly. You should also consider providing a noframes option just in case the spider- or, indeed, your visitor's browser - doesn't know quite what to do with frames.
Find and Fix Broken Links
Google's spiders, like nearly all web site visitors, have zero interest in guessing where this or that link should have taken them. In fact, spiders have nothing but links to go on to find the rest of your site; don't stop them short with a broken link. Before you publish a new article or add any new links within your site, preview the content in your browser and make sure that any links you've embedded do, in fact, point where they're supposed to.
Article Tags: Dynamic Pages
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Gibbins is an experienced business professional who has worked within Retail, Customer Service, Audit and Operations Management. He is the Managing Director of Cortina Web Solutions, a Website Design and SEO Consultation business that provides advanced internet business solutions.
Daniel is also the Operations Manager and Senior Project Leader of The Church Website Design Project, a Christian based not-for-profit online communications service that offer church website design for Christian churches throughout the world. Daniel is also a member of the General Teaching Council of England and holds Qualified Teacher Status in the UK.