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Best practices to help Google find, crawl, and index your site [Latest 2012]

We have already talked about avoiding Panda Penalty for your website, and what to do if you get hit , because apparently, Google isn'...


Help Google Crawl and Index your site


We have already talked about avoiding Panda Penalty for your website, and what to do if you get hit, because apparently, Google isn't very forgiving, and has impacted tonnes of websites. But that is about as far as we can go to avoid a penalty. The next step would be to facilitate Google, and help it find, crawl, and index your website. The easier it is for Google to find your site, the quicker it will be indexed. And the better it is, the faster it will be crawled on a regular basis, hence giving you more organic traffic each day. Here are some of the best practices recommended by Google that you should apply to your website in order to get the most out of it.




Submit your website



When your website is up, submit its URL at http://www.google.com/submityourcontent/. Also, submit a sitemap of your website in Google Webmaster Tools. This will ensure that Google knows about your site.


Content and design





When designing your website, and creating content, here are a few things you should keep in mind, because they will facilitate Google by making your site friendly.




content


  • Create a hierarchy of your pages, and make navigation easy for users. Use categories to break them up. Most sites implement an easy-to-use navigation bar for their categories. It'd also be a good idea to provide an archives page, or a sitemap page to your readers.

  • Create informative, rich and quality content for your readers.

  • Interlink your website pages to make your website rank higher and also to provide user-friendliness. However, keep the number of those links from getting too high.

  • Always tag images with ALT tags, and if necessary, do not use important text within images. Write it as text instead.

  • Use proper meta titles, descriptions and keywords (optional). They should summarize the content of your webpage.

  • Keep URL parameters to a minimum. Check out our post on what URL parameters are, and how to modify them.



Quality



Quality is a very sensitive issue with Google, and rightly so. The aim of the search engine is to return the best possible search results. And if a website falls short of the recommended quality guidelines, or tries to exploit loopholes, then it will be penalized sooner or later. Here are some quality guidelines recommended by Google.





quality content



The Do's



  • Focus your attention on making your website for users, rather than search engines. Ask yourself this; "Does my content help my users?"

  • Avoid tricks and exploiting loopholes, because Google will ultimately get you, and penalize your website. If you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've don't to your website to a Google employee, then you're fine. Otherwise, there's probably cause for concern.

  • Create unique, and useful content for your users

  • Look for hacked content on your website, and remove it ASAP

  • Remove user-generated spam (comments etc) from your site.





The Don'ts





  • Avoid link schemes (buying links, giving out paid links etc)

  • Avoid auto-generated content. Also don't send automated queries to Google

  • Don't use sneaky redirects

  • Avoid cloaking (serving different content to search engines and readers) and hidden text and links.

  • Don't stuff your pages with irrelevant keywords

  • AVOID malicious content, such as virus, Trojans and other phishing practices




Website guidelines


Webmasters often get so engrossed in the visual look of their website, that they often forget the bare-bones, the text part. Fancy features such as Flash, JQuery etc aren't the concern of search engines. They see your site much as text browsers, such as Lynx, do. If all of your site isn't available in a text browser, then you might want to reconsider its design.



Here are some more technical guidelines from Google




  • Make sure your web-server supports the If-Modified-Since-HTTP feature. This lets Google know if a page has been modified since it was last crawled.

  • Use robots.txt to specify what section(s) of your website you don't want indexed. But be careful so as not to introduce a site-wide blockage of search crawlers.

  • Make sure ads don't effect your search engine rankings. AdSense ads are usually blocked from being indexed. For affiliate ads, you can use a nofollow attribute etc.

  • Test your site occasionally, and monitor its performance, such as load time etc. Things like fast load times bode well with search engines.









Following these basic steps should help get your website gain favor with Google. Make sure you understand them, and implement them as well. All the best :)



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Experience Lab - Online business creation and development guide for bloggers and startups: Best practices to help Google find, crawl, and index your site [Latest 2012]
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