A website is more than just a home page. In fact, it is useful to think of a website as a cluster of mini websites, with each of the inner pages being a full-fledged website. Depending on the content of these inner pages, visitors will enter your site through these “side doors” on the strength of search engine queries that match the content of these interior pages.
This is great news for you, especially if you have a lot of pages with interesting content. However, if these inner pages are not indexed in the search engines, then you will not gain the advantages of all this “extra” traffic. Here are some steps to take to make sure that all of your pages are “spidered” and included in the major search engines.
1. First, make a check to determine your present indexing position
Normally when a search engine robot finds your main page, it will then follow links to your inner pages, and continue following links until all of your pages have been indexed. If your site is well constructed, and search-engine friendly then all of your pages may already be indexed. You can find out how you are doing by going to Google, Yahoo or MSN and making the following search query: site:www.yoursite.com . The results of this query will show you how many of your pages are already included and which pages they are.
2. Improve the navigation system of your site to make your links search engine friendly
If you do a check and find that only your main page or only a few of your pages are indexed and the rest are not, then it is important to look at your link and navigation structure and to make changes that will enable search engine robots to find and follow all of your links.
Links to inner pages that are contained in the java script of drop-down menus or as “hot spots” on graphics are more difficult for spiders to recognize and follow. If your site uses this kind of navigation structure, then it may be helpful to add an additional text link navigation system at the bottom of the pages. This will not only help the search engine robots, but will also give your visitors another handy way to go on to the other pages of your website.
3. Build an html site map with text links to all of your pages
A site map is something like a table of contents. Construct a web page using your usual graphical and navigation, so that it matches the rest of your website. In the main content section of that page, make a text link to each of your pages, using the title tag of those pages as the clickable link text, and putting the description tag of the page as text below the link. Putting the descriptive text under the link does not affect the work of the search engine robots but it will help your visitors to choose which page to click on.
Some online website builder and website construction software (such as Xsitepro) contain built in site-map generators. If you have a very large site with many pages then you can find free online site-map generators or download software for this purpose.
4. Participate in the Google Sitemaps Program
Last year Google set up the sitemaps program to help webmasters make it easier for their site’s pages to be found by the Google spider. To participate, you have to construct an XML file with information about each of your site’s pages and upload this to the main directory of your website. XML files are the same kinds of files used in RSS syndication, but in this case the XML file is meant only to provide information for the Google robot.
If you don’t know how to make an XML file or you have a very large website with hundreds of pages it is best to use an XML sitemap generator. A free, online Google Sitemaps generator can be found at http://www.auditmypc.com/free-sitemap-generator.asp
Once you have made your XML sitemap and have uploaded it to your server, go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps and set up a sitemaps account with Google. When you log into your account you will see a tab at the top of the page that says Add. Click it and then check the box, add “General Web Sitemap”. You will be asked to put the url of your sitemap. Normally the url of your sitemap will be http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml
The Google sitemaps program is particularly important if you have a large, data base driven site or ecommerce website with many pages that you want to be available in Google searches.
If you want to increase traffic to your site, check and see how many of your pages have actually been included in the various search engines, and then take steps to make sure that all of them are included in future search engine updates. Your efforts to improve the search engine friendliness of your site will be well rewarded.