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July 1 2008

Google Sitelinks Explained


Ever since Google introduced sitelinks, website owners and webmasters have had lots of questions about how these work. At Google’s recent June Tune Live Chat, the question arose again as to why some sites have these links and how they can control them. Here is an excerpt from the transcript of the Q and A section of the chat with Google’s answer to the question:

Q: Will we ever have control over sitelinks to bring searchers to the better pages on our site, vs the ones Google thinks are the best pages?
A: Sitelinks are automatically generated by our algorithm and are meant to help users navigate your site. While you cannot opt into having sitelinks, you are able to block sitelinks using Google Webmaster Tools.

Later on during the audible portion of the chat, in answer to this question:
Does the design of my site affect how these links are compiled? What can I do to help Google compile better sitelinks?

Bergy Berghausen replied that site architecture can affect your chances of getting sitelinks:

“Having a very simple html based navigation is the best way that we can tell how your site is organized and we try to guess based on where we think people are going on your site and how your site is structured.”

While we can’t tell you how to get the sitelinks, we can tell you how to get rid of them. If Google is linking to a page of your site that you would rather not have in the results pages, you can use the sitelink tool in Google’s Webmaster Tools to tell Google to remove the sitelink.

June 16 2008

Making Robots.txt Simple


Last week, all three major search engines posted on their respective Webmaster Help blogs that they were uniting in their interpretation of the robots exclusion protocol. In the past, robots.txt instructions that would work to exclude Google would not work in the same way as they would for Yahoo and MSN, so this was welcome news. All three blog posts are listed here:

Google’s Blog
Yahoo’s Blog
MSN’s Blog

Webmasters now have no reason to worry about keeping track of different methods of controlling robots, so keeping your robots.txt file simple is easier then ever. Making robots.txt simple is a good strategy for several reasons:

The more complicated the robots.txt is, the more likely there could be a mistake that would accidentally limit access to important parts of your site.
Adding listings for too many directories or files could lead to security issues with your robots.txt file or at the very least, give your competitors access to future site plans by listing all of your “secret” directories and/or files.

Robots.txt is a great tool for handling duplicate content issues related to the architecture or technology of your site, but remember that not all robots will respect the robots.txt file. If you really want to protect access to pages of your site, don’t link to them in the first place and remember that the only consistent way to make sure those pages aren’t accessible to everyone is to limit access with a login page.

May 22 2008

Alternate Ways to Learn SEO


One of the great things about Web 2.0 is all the different media choices we have to access information. Not everyone enjoys reading blog posts even if they have the time, so I thought I might list a few other ways that you can get information about search engine optimization, SEO.

1. Books — there are some great books out there. Which you should choose depends on your particular interest.

2. Videos — while this hasn’t quite caught on as much as non-readers might like, if you’re one of those that likes to view your content, Google features a few videos on YouTube about SEO. We expect that with the rise of video online, this can only increase in future.

3. Podcasts — these can be great if you have a long commute and want something to do while idling away your time stuck in traffic. Webmaster Radio features podcasts on a wide variety of topics relevant to internet marketing.

4. SEO Webinars — there are many resources online that offer webinars that explain all about various aspects of search marketing. Morevisibility is especially proud of our great series of search marketing and optimization webinars.

5. Blogs — well, naturally, blogs can still be a good source of SEO information, but if you don’t want to take the time to come visit us every day to see what’s new, feel free to subscribe to our feed and let us come to you.

Of course, as our client, we’re always ready to help out with any questions or concerns you might have, but if you’re looking for alternate ways to learn about SEO, these tips might be helpful. Enjoy.

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