Tag Archives: Sitemap

Creating Your SEO Plan

The SEO plan is the document that you’ll use to stay on track as you try to implement SEO strategies on your site.For many people, the thought of implementing SEO on a web site that includes dozens or even hundreds of pages is overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be, though.

Prioritizing pages

Look at SEO in small, bite-size pieces. For example, instead of looking at your site as a whole, look at each page on the site. Prioritize those pages, and then plan your SEO around each page’s priority. Taking a single page into consideration helps to eliminate the “everything has to happen right now” issue and makes it possible for you to create an SEO plan that will maximize your web site’s potential in the minimum amount of time.

Top priority pages should be the ones that your visitors will most naturally gravitate to, such as your home page, or pages that will generate the most in terms of traffic or revenue. When prioritizing pages, you’re also creating a road map for your marketing efforts. If three of the pages on your site are your top priority, those three will have the lion’s share of time, capital, and effort when it comes to SEO and marketing.

Site assessment

After you have prioritized your site, you should assess where you stand and where you need to be with your current SEO efforts. Again, assess each page individually, rather than the site as a whole. In SEO, individual pages are equally important (if not more so) than the entire site. All of your efforts are designed to rank one page above all others in search results. Which page is the most important should be determined by your business needs.

Your SEO assessment should be a document that outlines the current standing of the main SEO elements of each page. It should contain columns for the element of the site you’re assessing, the current status of that element, what needs to be improved in that element, and the deadline for improvement. It’s also helpful if you have a check box next to each item that can be marked when improvements are completed and a column for follow-up, because SEO is a never-ending process. The elements that should be considered during an assessment include:

  • Site/page tagging: The meta tags that are included in the coding of your web site are essential to having that site listed properly in a search engine. Tags to which you should pay specific attention are the title tags and description tags, because these are the most
    important to a search engine.
  • Page content: How fresh is your content? How relevant is it? How often is it updated? And how much content is there? Content is still important when it comes to search results. After all, most people are looking for a specific piece of content, whether it’s  information or a product. If your content is stale, search engines could eventually begin to ignore your site in favor of a site that has fresher content. There are exceptions to this generalization, however. And one exception is if your content is, by nature, very rich but not very dynamic. Because of the usefulness of the content, your site will probably continue to rank well. But it’s a difficult case to determine. In most cases, fresh content is better.
  • Site links: Site links are essential in SEO. Crawlers and spiders look for the links into and out of your site in order to traverse your site and collect data on each URL. However, they also look for those links to be in-context, meaning the link must come from or lead
    to a site that is relevant to the page that is being indexed. Broken links tend to be a large problem when it comes to search engine ranking, so be sure to check that links are still working during the assessment process.
  • Site map: Believe it or not, a site map will help your web site be more accurately linked. But this is not the ordinary site map that you include to help users quickly navigate through your site. This site map is an XML-based document, at the root of your HTML, that contains information (URL, last updated, relevance to surrounding pages, and so on) about each of the pages within a site. Using this XML site map will help to ensure that even the deep pages within your site are indexed by search engines. If you don’t have a site map, you should create one. If you do have one, make sure it’s accurate and up to date.

Finishing the plan

With the site assessment out of the way, you should have a good idea of what areas need work and what areas are in good shape. Don’t assume the areas that don’t currently need work will always be perfect, however. That’s not how it works. At the least, changes to the pages will require changes to the SEO efforts that you’re putting forth; at most they may require that you begin SEO efforts for that page all over again.

You can now take the time to put together all of the information that you’ve gathered into a cohe-sive picture of the SEO efforts you should be making. Your SEO plan is more than just a picture of what’s there and what’s not, however. This is the document that you use to tie everything together: current standing, marketing efforts, capital expenditures, time frames — all of it.

The document should look much like any other plan that you’ll create, for instance your business plan. In this plan, you should have an area for background information, marketing information, plans for growing the business, and plans for managing problems that may arise.

An SEO plan is very similar. You’ll have your current standings, the goals that you plan to hit, and the marketing efforts that you plan to make for each page (or for the site as a whole). You’ll even have the capital expenditures that you plan to encounter as you implement your SEO plan.

You’ll also want to include the strategies you plan to use. Those strategies can be efforts such as submitting your site or pages from your site to directories manually and planning the content you’ll use to draw search crawlers, or they can be keyword marketing plans or pay-per-click programs you plan to use. Also be sure to include a time line for the testing and implementation of those efforts as well as for regular follow-ups.

Follow-up

Follow-up is also an essential part of your SEO plan. Many people believe they can develop and implement an SEO plan and then just walk away from it. The truth is, however, that SEO is not just a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process that requires testing, monitoring, and often re-building. A good plan for conducting follow-ups is to plan for them quarterly. Some companies will choose to follow up and reassess their SEO bi-annually, but to be truly effective quarterly is much better. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that following up on your SEO efforts too soon is non-productive. In many cases, it takes at least three months to get a clear picture of how successful your efforts are.
Conducting an evaluation before that three-month mark could have you chasing after an elusive SEO goal that doesn’t really exist. Or worse, it could lead you away from a successful strategy.

Give your plan at least three months but no more than six between checkups. Once you create the habit of re-evaluating your SEO efforts on that time schedule, it will be much less time consuming than you assume.

Site map Optimization Technique

Site Maps can be a great tool for making search engines crawl through your web site in a much more effective manner, thereby helping you get more pages indexed, and ultimately getting you more visitors. Most people know what site maps are, as they can be seen on many of the major websites, although for those who don¡¦t, ¡§a site map is a page which contains a list of all the links within a website, under different categories and headings, just like a table of contents of a book¡¨. Now when a search engine hits the site map page, it gets to see all the links within that website and this enables it to crawl through those pages. It¡¦s just like guiding search engines with the help of a map, in this large universe of internet.

Site maps also help visitors to get an overview of the entire web site, and hence act as a great navigational tool. It helps visitors find specific pages through a single page, for which they might have had to follow several links to reach the desired page. Here are some example of well designed site maps.

http://www.google.com/sitemap.html

This leads us to the next question, i.e. how should site maps be designed. Designing a site map can be as simple as designing any other static pages without any pictures, graphics, etc. But all effort should be made to keep the structure logical and simple. Its best to browse through the web, and check out a variety of site maps before you decide on what kind of structure you want to follow.

Here are some things you should keep in mind, before designing a site map.

Homepage Link: It is important to give a prominent link from the homepage to the sitemap page, so that visitors and search bots can easily hit the site map page. In fact, preferably there should be a link to the site map page from every page of your website.

Text Links: Plain text links should be used for all the links, as some search bots can have problems crawling through ¡§JavaScript¡¨.

Categories: It is important to organise the contents into well defined categories, and even sub-categories for easy navigation of the user. Although this doesn¡¦t have direct SEO implications, it makes more sense to the user.

Descriptive Content: It is ideal to add some content describing the links, as search engines tend to ignore pages, full of links. It is also important to use your targeted keywords in your descriptive content as well as in your anchor text.

Anchor Text Link: It is important to use page titles as your anchor text, so that you can increase your anchor text back links. This is helpful for search engine optimization as it increases your link popularity.

Sitemaps – Uncover the Only Quick and Easy Site Submission Strategy

What is the easiest and quickest way to get your site index and listed by Google and Yahoo?

This is an eternal question, one that many frustrated SEO specialists and online business owners are still trying to figure out. The trick to answering this question is to find out exactly what Google and Yahoo want you to do to get listed; not what you THINK they want you to do. That being said, the tried and true methods to get your pages indexed and listed by Google and Yahoo have been the following:

1. Blogging and Pinging

2. Submit your website through the standard submission form provided by Yahoo and Google

3. Pay a search engine submission service to do it for you

4. Figure out how to create a Sitemap for each of the engines to get the spiders to come to your site (you still have to manually submit)

These are all decent methods. However, the problems with 3 of these methods are many, and here are just a few:

1. Blog and Ping and submission forms are all slow ways to get listed. Who has that kind of time?

2. Search Engine Submission services can be expensive

3. Using an automated search engine submission service can get you banned, if the search engines think that you are “spamming”

Of all the methods listed above, both Google and Yahoo prefer that you create a sitemap and then submit your site to them. You create a database file that contains information about ALL of your web pages. You then load that file onto your website and then let Google know where that file is. Google is extremely specific about how the database should be submitted, which is in XML format.

By submitting your website in this way, you are cutting down on their overhead by a huge amount. You see, when you submit the old-fashioned way, using the standard submission form we talked about earlier, Google and Yahoo have to convert your information to the database XML format themselves. As you can imagine, this takes time, especially with the zillions of web pages that are submitted daily. So, those sites that are submitted in the manner and format that Google and Yahoo are already using will get their pages index faster…do you see the logic here? Using this process, you are enabling them to visit many MORE of your web pages quickly and easy. This is exactly what Google and Yahoo want you to do.

By submitting your sitemap in the preferred format, you will accomplish the following:

1. Save enormous amounts of your valuable time and money.

2. You don’t risk getting banned

3. You will get Google and Yahoo to spider the pages of your site faster.

So, if you want to get your site index, and therefore listed, faster, you must create and submit the sitemap. In theory, the search engines can list your pages whenever they want. In reality, until you get them to spider your web pages, you will never get them listed!

Sitemaps 101 – Back To SEO School

Sitemaps are without doubt one of the most often ignored and undervalued aspects of search engine optimization. You’ve probably spent a huge amount of time working on pages of original content, keyword density and getting incoming links but never once spared a thought for a sitemap for your new creation.

What is a sitemap?
Put simply it’s a page or pages that contain a list of and link to all the other documents on your site. This is useful on two levels:

1. Your visitor can quickly reference all the documents on your site to find exactly what they’re looking for.

2. Search engine spiders can also quickly find and index every single page of your site in the least amount of time. The SEO benefits of using a sitemap far considerable and should not be ignored.

This is a win-win situation for you, your website visitors and the search engines. Put simply you’re nuts if you’ve not included a sitemap as part of your overall website promotion strategy.

The good news is that it’s never too late to start. You can create a sitemap page today but there are some rules to creating an effective sitemap that you need to follow:

Your sitemap must only be linked to from your homepage and no other page. Why? You want the search engine spiders to find this link directly from your homepage and follow it from there. Your sitemap MUST NOT be linked to from every other page of your site. Also from a Google Pagerank point of view only linking to your sitemap from your homepage can also “funnel” PR quickly to pages all over your site.

If you have a large website of 50 pages or more limit the number of pages listed on your sitemap to a maximum of 30. This is to prevent your sitemap from being misinterpreted as a link farm by the search engines. It also makes the sitemap a lot easier for real human visitors to read through. Limiting the number of pages listed on each sitemap to 30 might mean splitting your sitemap over 5, 10 or 20 pages. This has to be done and the long term benefits are worth it. Bear in mind that if you do create a 20 page sitemap you’ve just created an extra 20 pages of content for your website!

Make absolutely sure that each of your sitemap pages links to the next. If you have 10 sitemap pages in total then each of those needs to link to every other sitemap page. Otherwise both visitors and search engine spiders will find a broken link, lose interest and go away.

Test your sitemap thoroughly. Make sure all the links works. Make sure it’s easy to read and navigate through. Your sitemap is there to assist your visitor and not confuse them.

How should you structure your sitemap? The following tips must be adhered to in order for your site to gain the maximum possible benefit from having a sitemap.

1. The title of each sitemap link should be keyword rich and link directly back to the original page.

2. Include 10 – 20 words of text from the original page of content underneath the relevant sitemap link. This creates more content for search engine spiders and human visitors can see exactly what each page is about in advance of clicking.
uman visitor benefit is that they can see what the pages is about in advance.

3. Ensure that the look and feel of your sitemap page is consistent with the rest of your site. Use the same basic HTML template you used for every other page of your site.

So now you understand the importance of building a sitemap for your website. There is work involved but the long term benefits for your websites far outweigh any effort you have to make right now.

Search Engine Optimization

The Good and the Bad of SEO ‘s From Google’s Mouth!

I recently had the opportunity to ask questions of some Google staffers. There were some questions I felt I needed to get verification on, so when I had the opportunity via a conference call I took it.

In this article I highlight some of the points made during the call so you know what Google thinks.

You know its bad when you take time from your holidays to come into work to attend a conference call. But that’s what I did a few weeks ago. You see I had to because I was going to have the opportunity to ask some Google employees specific questions on things that I’d been pretty sure about, but wanted to hear it right from the horses mouth.

The call lasted less than an hour, but in that time I found that there were many things I figured were indeed true. So lets start with the most obvious:

Is PageRank still important?

The short answer is yes  PageRank has always been important to Google. Naturally they couldn’t go into details but it is as I suspected. Google still uses the algorithm to help determine rankings. Where it falls in the algo mix, though, is up for speculation. My feeling however is that they’ve simply moved where the PageRank value is applied in the grand scheme of things. If you want to know what I think, be sure to read this article.

Are dynamic URLs bad?

Google says that a dynamic URL with 2 parameters should get indexed. When we pressed a bit on the issue we also found that URLs themselves don’t contribute too much to the overall ranking algorithms. In other words, a page named Page1.asp will likely perform as well as Keyword.asp.

The whole variable thing shouldn’t come as a surprise. It is true that Google will indeed index dynamic URLs and I’ve seen sites with as many as 4 variables get indexed. The difference however is that in almost all cases I’ve seen the static URLs outrank the dynamic URLs especially in highly competitive or even moderately competitive keyword spaces.

Is URL rewriting OK in Google’s eyes?

Again, the answer is yes, provided the URLs aren’t too long. While the length of the URL isn’t necessarily an issue, if they get extremely long they can cause problems.

In my experience, long rewritten URLs perform just fine. The important thing is the content on the page.

That was a common theme throughout the call  content is king. Sure optimized meta tags, effective interlinking and externalizing JavaScript all help, but in the end if the content isn’t there the site won’t do well.

Do you need to use the Google Sitemap tool?

If your site is already getting crawled effectively by Google you do not need to use the Google sitemap submission tool.

The sitemap submission tool was created by Google to provide a way for sites which normally do not get crawled effectively to now become indexed by Google.

My feeling here is that if you MUST use the Google sitemap to get your site indexed then you have some serious architectural issues to solve.

In other words, just because your pages get indexed via the sitemap doesn’t mean they will rank. In fact I’d bet you that they won’t rank because of those technical issues I mentioned above.

Here I’d recommend getting a free tool like Xenu and spider your site yourself. If Xenu has problems then you can almost be assured of Googlebot crawling problems. The nice thing with Xenu is that it can help you find those problems, such as broken links, so that you can fix them.

Once your site becomes fully crawlable by Xenu I can almost guarantee you that it will be crawlable and indexable by the major search engine spiders. Download it from http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html

Does clean code make that much of a difference?

Again, the answer is yes. By externalizing any code you can and cleaning up things like tables you can greatly improve your site.

First, externalizing JavaScript and CSS helps reduce code bloat which makes the visible text more important. Your keyword density goes up which makes the page more authoritative.

Similarly, minimizing the use of tables also helps reduce the HTML to text ratio, making the text that much more important.

Also, as a tip, your visible text should appear as close to the top of your HTML code as possible. Sometimes this is difficult, however, as elements like top and left navigation appear first in the HTML. If this is the case, consider using CSS to reposition the text and those elements appropriately.

Do Keywords in the domain name harm or help you?

The short answer is neither. However too many keywords in a domain can set off flags for review. In other words blue-widgets.com won’t hurt you but discount-and-cheap-blue-and-red-widgets.com will likely raise flags and trigger a review.

Page naming follows similar rules ‘ while you can use keywords as page names, it doesn’t necessarily help (as I mentioned above) further, long names can cause reviews which will delay indexing.

How many links should you have on your sitemap?

Google recommends 100 links per page.

While I’ve seen pages with more links get indexed, it appears that it takes much longer. In other words, the first 100 links will get indexed right away, however it can take a few more months for Google to identify and follow any links greater than 100.

If your site is larger than 100 pages (as many are today) consider splitting up your sitemap into multiple pages which interlink with each other, or create a directory structure within your sitemap. This way you can have multiple sitemaps that are logically organized and will allow for complete indexing of your site.

Can Googlebot follow links in Flash or JavaScript

While Googlebot can identify links in JavaScript, it cannot follow those links. Nor can it follow links in Flash.

Therefore I recommend having your links elsewhere on the page. It is OK to have links in flash or JavaScript but you need to account for the crawlers not finding them. Therefore the use of a sitemap can help get those links found and crawled.

As alternatives I know there are menus which use JavaScript and CSS to output a very similar looking navigation system to what you commonly see with JavaScript navigation yet uses static hyperlinks which crawlers can follow. Therefore do a little research and you should be able to find a spiderable alternative to whatever type of navigation your site currently has.

Overall, while I didn’t learn anything earth shattering, it was good to get validation “from the horses mouth so to speak.

I guess it just goes to show you that there is enough information out there on the forums and blogs. The question becomes determine which of that information is valid and which isn’t. But that, I’m afraid, usually comes with time and experience.

Get Listed In Google By Making An XML SiteMap and Without Spending A Dime

If you have been unsuccessfully trying to get listed in Google or just hitting roadblocks when trying to get more of your pages listed in Google, then you need to read this short article. I am about to reveal a simple SEO secret that can save you a lot of time, money and effort.

Google has a preferred search submission format that it actually asks webmasters to use, It’s called a Google SiteMap.

Admittedly, creating and using XML is no easy task for anyone who is non-technical or inexperienced with web coding, however there is a site or two on the web that can actually help you create an XML sitemap and then submit it to Google so that this venerable search engine can crawl your previously unknown web site and get you listed.

Of course there are no guarantees that your site will get high ranks or that it will meet Google’s guidelines for inclusion, so be sure to make sure that your site is properly optimized and meets their guidelines before using these tools.

Before I reveal these tools and show you where to go to find out how to use them, let’s take a look at the basics.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a special document formatted created to allow communication between applications and also between organizations. XML is a practical system that structurally defines the format and composition of intricate documents and data such as invoices, news feeds, inventory reports, catalogue listings and other complex documents. A seasoned programmer who understands XML can easily create XML applications that know how to pull data from XML sources and then format it for presentation to end users.

In the case of Google, this same XML data format can be used to define your site’s pages and their position in relation to each other. So for example, your “about_us.html” page is usually connected only one click away from your “index.html” page. When used in this manner to define pages and their positions we are creating what is commonly known as a sitemap.

Google says in the own words, “Google Sitemaps is an easy way for you to help improve your coverage in the Google index. It’s a collaborative crawling system that enables you to communicate directly with Google to keep us informed of all your web pages, and when you make changes to these pages.”

So in essence, Google is asking us to help them index the web by using this simple technique that will no doubt become a major help to struggling webmasters everywhere.

Google, by the way, will accept simple text file based sitemaps. Please consult their site for more information.

How to get your sitemap indexed.

Once your sitemap has been created and uploaded to the main directory of your web site, simply use this URL to submit it:

www.google.com/webmasters/

Login with your google user id and submit the sitemap.xml in site configuration’s sitemap tab

example
http://www.canigetinfo.com/sitemap.xml

You can also open a Google account before submitting to make sure that you can actually track your submission to check your sitemap status.

https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount

I promised to reveal the tools used to facilitate the creation of XML sitemaps and here they are…

The Tools Revealed:

SiteMapspal:

Use this Google recommended online tool to generate a Google friendly xml sitemap that you can simple cut/paste and then upload to your site. Simply provide your site URL and select a few optional settings and with one-click ease you will have a sitemap, ready to go.

http://www.sitemapspal.com/

Google SiteMap Generator:

http://code.google.com/p/googlesitemapgenerator/

SiteMap Validator:

Use this Google recommended tool to validate your sitemap for accuracy.

The Webmaster of google will give you the information and errors if any in your sitemap xml