Imagine that you are visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris to see the most magnificent painting in the world, the Mona Lisa! But, when he leaves his hotel, he discovers that the subway 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 non-Search Engine Friendly (SEF) websites. They can’t access your great 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 can’t get to your website, then your content doesn’t make it into the database and therefore doesn’t have a chance to appear in search results.
And it’s pretty obvious that if your website doesn’t appear in the search results, searchers can’t click through to your website and you lose the opportunity to convert searchers into customers, newsletter subscribers or website sales.
One of the biggest factors that affects SEF-ness (search engine friendliness, or how well your website helps spiders get your information) is linking.
Without getting too technical, what you need to know here is that spiders “like” links that easily take them from one page to another within your website. They “dislike” links that are difficult to decipher or inaccessible.
The best links are simple text links.
Plain text links are the most common on the web and are usually underlined blue text like this: Visit Google (which takes you to the Google search engine).
Other links that are often difficult for spiders to follow include:
Dynamic links, which are usually associated with databases that create new pages with content based on your choices. You can see them by looking at the address bar. You will see characters like: ?, &, $, = and +.
Flash Links – These are for adding an extra visual flare through the animation.
Image Links: Click on an image to go to another page. Image links are not as difficult as the others, but they 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 help you make your site spider-friendly.
Beware of hosting services that provide 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.
Create a sitemap that links all your pages together using simple text links.
Do not hide content in the databases, unless it is for a good reason, such as a private access membership.
Make sure all your pages link to other pages.
Check all the links on your website to verify that they all work.
In general, keep your website coding simple. This reduces the chances of a spider getting lost in the code.
If you haven’t already, be sure to submit your website to the top three search engines today: Google, Yahoo, and MSN. You can easily find the shipping pages by doing a search, for example, “Google Shipping URL”.
Over time, around a month or two, the spiders will come to your website. If your site is SEF, your pages will enter their databases.
SEF-ness brings your website to the search engines. It is an important prerequisite for building your visibility online. As your practice grows and you place more content on your website, such as articles and blog posts, more search engines will find your site.
When your website becomes as popular as the Mona Lisa, you’ll be smiling too!