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Is Your Website Findable?

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Website FindabilityWebsite findability is the most important aspect of marketing your product, service or message over the web. If no one can find your site, how can they buy from you? This primary objective often gets lost when a team of collaborators work on a project, such as a website, to complete a common goal. Each team member is responsible for their own deliverable and the most important function of the site, attracting visitors or “findability” seems to fall by the wayside.

In my line of work, Internet marketing, it’s often hard to impress upon clients just how important findability is. To a search engine strategist, findability, closely followed by usability comes first. Clients often at times become consumed by aesthetics and snazzy functionality. When I tell them that their fancy javascript applet is a waste or that their flash intro needs to be scrapped, they sometimes become rather disagreeable even angry at times. I explain to them, these components are not crawlable and can even confuse or turn away the search spiders. The spiders are your friends, you don’t want to scare them away. I like to explain to site owners, if the only way customers are finding your site is by searching for your company’s name, then your site isn’t doing its job.

A recent client of mine has a beautiful site completely built in flash. It looked very appealing and was moderately usable as well. But the problem was, he wasn’t getting any organic traffic. All Google saw when they crawled the page was a function call to the flash component and a bunch of actionscript gobbledygook. There weren’t even any title tags on the page. I physically showed him the difference in the code between an html site and his flash based site. His response was, “so what do we do now?”  I explained to him, in order to rank organically he’d either have to scrap the whole site, or create a new complementary site (under a different domain) from scratch. He responded, “but I paid $8000 for this site.” Unfortunately for him, just because he paid a lot of money for his site didn’t mean it was going to bring him customers. Kevin Costners old adage, “if you build it, they will come”, doesn’t always hold true when it comes to website findability.

Here are few things to check for when you want to know if your site is “findable”:

  • Search for your site’s URL after the command “site” in Google(site:www.yourdomain.com). This will show what pages are being indexed by Google’s engine.
  • Always upload and update an xml sitemap in you home directory. This file should always be named “sitemap.xml”. Submit you site map to webmaster tools.
  • Label your images using alt tags. Image search can bring your site a lot of traffic and it also counts toward usability.
  • Learn what 301 and 404 redirects are and use them.
  • Use Google Webmaster Tools. It’s free and will give you a lot of important info about your site.
  • Submit your sitemap to Google, Yahoo and Bing. Each one of these engines has their own version of webmaster tools and allows for sitemap submission.
  • And finally, always remember the point of having a website is attract visitors, not to bolster your own personal ego.

109 Comments

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September 2, 2010

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