Making Sure Search Engines Can Index Your Pages

The first thing to consider is that if search engines can't read your pages, they can't index them. They won't be included in the search engine index, and so have no chance of appearing if someone searches for a term related to your products and services.

note Just because a page is in the index, doesn't mean it will appear in the search results. The first step is to make sure it will be indexed... but you also have to create it in such a manner that it has a good chance of appearing high in the search results.

When are search engines unable to index your site? When you have very complicated URLs. For instance, a page may not be indexed if its URL looks like this:

http://www.domainname.com/Catalog/Catalog.asp?PageLevelID=54 8&bRange=2 750 &tRange=8975

Here's a rule of thumb. If you have one or two database parameters in a URL—one or two = signs or? characters—the page is probably okay; the search engines will quite likely index it. If there are three or more, though, you may have a problem. However, there are a number of technical reasons why search engines won't index pages with very complicated URLs, which we don't have space to cover here.

This URL references a page that is "databased"; the web server sends a "query" to the database, asking for the page. Each = sign in the URL indicates a different "parameter" in the query.

Another issue that causes problems is that of the session ID, a piece of code that is used to track a particular user session as the site visitor moves through the web site. It might look like this:

http://www.domainname.com/index.jsp;jsessionid=S8HFB9 8 7 6R9BSD98 76WR9B

tip If y°u see the word sessionid in a URL, it's a session ID string! (But some URLs that don't include that term may also be session IDs.)

If your pages use session IDs, two problems can occur:

■ Search engines may not index the pages.

■ If they do index the pages, the URL in the search results page probably won't work correctly.

Dnote Pages created using the Yahoo! Merchant Solutions e-commerce system do not have these — problems. They can be read and are indexed in the major search engines.

Both these issues are problems with e-commerce products; the first is very common with all types, including "off-the-shelf" systems, while the second is more common with more sophisticated custom systems.

How do you know if your site, or a product you are considering using, has this problem? Find out if pages created by the system—either on your site or on other companies' sites using a system you are evaluating—are indexed by the major search engines.

a' tip Here's a quick trick to see if a site is indexed by the search engines. Search for this: site: domainname.com. The search engine returns all the pages on the site it knows about. This trick won't work on all search engines, but it will work on Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.

100 SEO Tips

100 SEO Tips

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