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Do the Search Engines Know Your Website?
By Chet Childers
Are you considering a search engine promotion campaign to improve your website's search engine visibility? To aid in your decision, have you checked your website to determine its search engine awareness?
Perhaps you may be thinking why do I need to check my website? Do you remember going to the doctor for an illness? Hopefully, your doctor performed some tests to diagnose your illness before prescribing your medication. If not, you may have gotten some very undesirable results.
In the case of your website, you need to diagnose the patient and determine the extent of your website's search engine visibility. Based on your findings, you can decide to focus on standard search results or paid search results.
Your checks should be done in the Google and Yahoo search engines since they are the major search engines in today's marketplace. As an option, you should consider MSN since they have recently released their search engine. It is only a matter of time before they are considered a player, if not already.
Your first check determines if your website is indexed in Google or Yahoo. Think about the card catalog in your library. Each book has a card in the card catalog signifying the indexing of the book in the library. In this exercise you'll check if your website has a "card" in the Google or Yahoo card catalog.
The first exercise is opening your web browser to the Google - www.google.com, Yahoo - www.yahoo.com or MSN - www.msn.com website. Enter your website's URL, www.yourdomainname.com, in the search box and review the search results. Your website's domain name or URL should appear in the search results if your site is indexed.
If just the domain name or URL is listed, the website has been indexed but not crawled by the search engine spider. A domain name and several lines of descriptive text indicate the website has been crawled by the search engine spider to determine the website's content. Also, look for the link "Cached Page" or a similar phrase. This is another indication the website has been crawled for content by the search engine.
Now, you should know if your website is indexed and has a "card" in the search engine card catalog. Your second check evaluates the extent of your website's indexing by determining which website pages are indexed by the respective search engine.
The second exercise is opening your web browser to the Google, Yahoo or MSN website. Enter the "site" command and your website's URL in the search box in the format "site:www.yourdomainname.com" (quotation marks not required) and review the search results. All of your website's pages indexed by the queried search engine should be listed. At the top of the search results screen look for "Results X - Y of about Z from www.yourdomainname.com" or a similar phrase. The value for Z indicates the total number of pages indexed by the queried search engine for your website.
In addition, you might see the comment "repeat the search with the omitted results included" in the results listing. Since the search engine does not always show the entire listing, you can click the link and view the complete list of your website's indexed pages.
Your third check determines the number of inbound links from other websites to your website. The number of inbound links is very important in the ranking algorithms of many of the search engines. The commands for this exercise are slightly different between the search engines. We'll review the commands for the three major search engines. The other search engines have similar commands.
Google & MSN
Open your web browser to the Google or MSN website. Enter the "link" command and your website's URL in the search box in the format "link: www.yourdomainname.com" (quotation marks not required) and review the search results.
All the external website pages linked to your website and indexed by the queried search engine should be listed. At the top of the search results screen look for "Results X - Y of Z linking to www.yourdomainname.com" or a similar phrase. The value for Z indicates the total number of externally linked pages to your website.
Open your web browser and go to the Yahoo website. Enter the "linkdomain" and "-site" command and your website's URL in the search box in the format "linkdomain:www.yourdomainname.com -site:www.yourdomainname.com" (quotation marks not required). The "-site" command is used exclude the internally linked website pages from the results.
Review the search results. All the external website pages linked to your website and indexed by Yahoo should be listed. At the top right of the search results screen look for "Results X - Y of Z linking to www.yourdomainname.com." The value for Z indicates the total number of externally linked pages to your website.
Do not be alarmed if the displayed results from Yahoo and MSN are significantly different from Google. Recently, Google began displaying limited or no results from the "link" command. The general conclusion from the search engine optimization community was that Google felt disclosing the link information might possibly share too much information regarding their ranking algorithm and its impact on a specific website.
From these three simple checks you should have determined if the search engines know the existence of your website and be prepared to select the proper search engine promotion campaign. A pay-per-click search engine campaign would be a good choice if your website's search engine visibility is limited and the time deadline to achieve your desired search engine rankings is short. If the time to achieve the desired search engine rankings is not critical to your website's marketing plans, then a search engine optimization campaign to improve the standard search results could be a logical decision.
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