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In this course, search engine optimization (SEO) expert Peter Kent walks step-by-step through the process of reviewing the content and markup of an existing web site to improve its ranking in search engine results. This course offers a consultant's take on how to analyze each component—from keywords to content to code—and determine what improvements are necessary to become more visible to search engines like Yahoo!, Bing, and Google.
This course was updated on 10/12/2012.
The very first thing we should do is find out if your site is indexed in the search engines yet. You may know this already, but if not, go to Google and search by typing the words 'site:' and then your site's domain name, no spaces anywhere, just site: domain name. For instance, site:twotreesoliveoil.com. press Enter or click the Search button and Google will show you a list of pages it has indexed on the specified site. Look up here and you can see how many pages Google has indexed.
In this case, you can see that Google has 85 pages in the index. This can be useful to know, but at least it can give you a goal. If you've got a hundred pages on your site and Google's indexed five, clearly you have a problem. It could be the Google is having problems getting to all the pages, or perhaps you have so few links to the site that it just doesn't think the site is worth indexing fully. Each page is listed below. The first line, the link, comes in the page's title tag. Now the text below is usually, though not always, from the description meta tag.
We'll talk about these items in a later video. In fact, I often use the site: search syntax as a way to not only find out what pages are indexed, but to get a quick look at what the title and description tags look like. Below you'll see the URL of the web page, and you'll also find a little cached link. Click that link to view the page that Google has cached, that it has saved. The cache is a stored page, a copy of what the page looked like the last time Google crawled the page. You can see up here in fact, the date and time that Google grabbed the page last.
The Google cache can be very handy for seeing what a page looked like in the recent past. I've helped clients recover damage to lost web pages for instance by pulling a copy from the cache. The site: domain name syntax also works on Bing, as you can see here. In this case, we're getting many fewer results than we found in Google. Hopefully that number will go up once we have optimized the site properly. As for Yahoo, well, Yahoo gets its searches out from Bing now, so whatever you see in Bing, you should see in Yahoo.
Still, if you do want to see it in Yahoo, be aware that the site: domain name syntax will work, but probably not in the main search box at Yahoo.com. It will work on the Yahoo site explorer page, which you can find at siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com. Or just search for site: domain name at the main Yahoo page. Yahoo will load a Site Explorer page in which it tells you that it can't find the results. Add site: back in and try again, and you'll get the results.
So what if you can't find your site in the search engines? First check the syntax. Did you type site: domain name probably? Remember, no spaces. If you type it correctly though and still nothing is found, what's going on? There is a slight chance that a problem with your robots.txt file could stop your site being indexed. A small typo can kill your site. robots.txt is a file in the root of your web site that provides instructions to web bots such as search engine spiders. This text is common. It simply tells spiders to stay out of the cgi-bin directory.
This tells robots that they can index the entire site. This however tells the search engines to stay out of the entire site. So a tiny change can kill your site in the search engines. It doesn't happen very often, but I have seen it. Most likely though, the problem lies elsewhere. It could be that the site is structured in such a manner that the search engines can't move from page to page, although in this case at least the homepage is usually indexed by Google. More likely is that there are so few links pointing to your site from other web sites, or not at all, that the search engines haven't found your site, or consider it unimportant.
We'll learn more about these issues in a later video.
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