Ensuring Google likes your business website

May 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

We have mentioned in previous articles the importance of building links and getting your website ranked by the search engines.   In this article we’ll cover some essentials, do’s and don’ts for your site  to ensure that Google and the other search engines will both index your site and not penalise any of the content.


The essentials:

Make use of a sitemap.  A sitemap can simply be a page that contains a link to all the pages that you wish to have indexed for your business and we recommend all business websites have one.  The sitemap should be referenced from your main home page, and can simply be a link to the sitemap page in the footer text (called Sitemap). 

Sitemaps are the fastest method a search engine can become aware of all the content you wish indexed for your business, so there are two things to remember:

1. They need to be accurate and the links to pages within your site are not broken
2. You will need to keep them up to date by adding new page links to the sitemap and removing old ones when pages are retired.

If you are using some professional services to maintain your website, you may enquire about using an XML Sitemap.  These are very popular with all search engines and Google actually has an article that covers their description here.    Additionally, there are a number of services out there that will create the XML sitemap for you, one is www.xml-sitemaps.com (free for the first 500 pages, so excellent if you are just getting started).

Use HTML for links.  To ensure that a search engine will find and follow your links, ensure that simple HTML format is used and avoid using complex Flash or JavaScript as they are not easy for a search engine spider to locate or follow.

Most ‘off-the-shelf’ shopping carts, instant website software or hosting packages that include a website will generally use simple HTML for links and it is something that you can check for with your vendor.

The Do’s:

As with your links, keep the content of your site as simple HTML as much as possible.  It makes the actual content a lot easier to find.  As with the links detail above, the ‘off-the-shelf’ packages usually keep the HTML in use as simple as possible.  That said, there is an increasing number of ‘Flash enabled’ versions of templates appearing and although these do look lovely, we would recommend avoiding using those until your site has been established and the spiders are returning to check the content on a regular basis.

Check all your links to see if any are broken.  It may seem obvious but occasionally sites do have a page that won’t load due to a typo or some other simple problem with the link.  Broken links will delay new content from being indexed and potentially slow down the rate of return to your site by the spider (usually if there are a lot of broken links).

Make sure your home page links to all the main page of each category of your website.  For example, if you sell bracelets, necklaces, earrings and chain, and you have organised your website into four categories, ensure the home page contains a link to the category main page for each.
The important landing pages need to be reinforced.  For each of the pages within your categories, ensure that they link back to the main category page and the home page for the site.  This is what the search engines refer to as good navigation.

Focus your attention on the main content pages for your site and business.  These will always be pages that contain important information telling the spiders what your site is all about, the goods and services you offer and the individual items that you want a potential customer to find.  Avoid trying to optimise pages that won’t really help your website be ranked highly for your keywords (e.g. Contact Us, About Us, Privacy Policy and other such pages).

If you sell goods in a particular geographical area or town ensure that your body text contains references to where you are.  The title to certain pages should also contain this information as this will go a very long way to getting ranked highly for local searches – which are very important right now. 

As an example, if you sell earrings, ensure that you state somewhere on your home page and your category main page something like “.. our shop in <town name>, <county name> contains all the items you will find here..”  At this point, this is one of the few places you would deliberately place a link to your Contact Us page which must state clearly (and near the top of the page) your address.

Local searches via smart phones are on the increase, and this little tip is already benefitting many businesses.

The Don’ts:

Avoid forms for important pages.  To ensure a spider can index the important content you want to be found for, ensure that a form does not have to be completed first.  The spiders will index the form and move on.  You will see examples of this on this site as some content is completely free and you don’t even need to log in to see it.  This is to ensure that the spiders understand the nature of the site itself.

Avoid using frames.  Nearly all ‘off-the-shelf’ software will not use frames, but check just to be sure.  Additionally you can request professionally written websites do not contain them.

Do not put excessive duplicate content on each page or within the site.  The indexing system of the search engines will not rank you higher for it (sometimes the reverse will happen).  One example could be a type of earring sold.  If you have a pair of earrings that come in five different colours, do not have five pages stating the same thing other than a different colour.  You should place all five on the same page.

Don’t overdo it with the H1 tag.  H1 will place a nice big heading on a page.  This makes what follows significant (to the spider) and will be viewed as a potential keyword by the search engines.  Limit all pages to one H1 tag.

In a future article we will explore more do’s and don’ts and some of the current trends within Google for what they like to see in websites (and what they don’t).



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