William Laakkonen, AVATAVA
One of the most important things to avoid in creating a dynamic web site is the use of session IDs in your URLs or pages with an ending of ?parameter. Here’s an example:
PHP Session IDs may be suppressed in your .htaccess file using: php_flag session.use_trans_sid off
The reason to avoid using PHP variables and session IDs as well as URLs ending in question marks is due to the fact the URLs may be ignored by some web bots and search engine spiders. It’s best to avoid anything that even resembles a session ID. Here is a direct quote from Matt Cutts also known as Googleguy: “sites shouldn’t use “&id=” as a parameter if they want maximal Googlebot crawlage, for example. So many sites use “&id=” with session IDs that Googlebot usually avoids URLs with that parameter,” See: http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum30/29720.htm for the full article.
Another thing to avoid is the use of variables in URLs. Here’s an example:
Using even one variable in the URL can decrease your search engine results and multiple parameters likely make it even worse; per Googleguy: “The number of parameters in a URL might exclude a site from being crawled for inclusion in our MAIN index’ (IOW parameters = relegated to a supplemental listing)”.
Another thing to avoid is serving all your content from a single page or a set of pages. As far as a search engine is concerned it sees the same pages or sets of pages over and over again. This will likely relegate your web content to either the supplemental index or even out of the index altogether.
What should be used instead is a server side rewrite to create static page names and links such as:
Buy-Product-Name.html or Buy-Another-Product-Name.html
With the Apache web server you can use the Apache module mod_rewrite to do the rewrites. For Microsoft® Windows® IIS you must look for a third party module to do a rewrite of your URLs. On IIS there are several ISAPI modules for rewriting URLs, including one which requires no changing of your web pages at all. Most of the IIS modules are commercial but there is one free module available from Antonin Foller of Motobit.com.
Commercial ISAPI rewrite modules for IIS
I’m sure you may find additional ISAPI rewrite modules for IIS, these are the ones I found available during June, 2007.
URL Rewriting schemes to avoid
You should avoid using underscores in file names or URLs. See: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/dashes-vs-underscores/
The Google Supplemental Index
If you find your site is guilty of doing all the things listed here earlier as ‘not-to-do’, your site is likely already in the Google supplemental index. How do you know you if your site’s pages are in the supplemental index? Go to google.com and type in the search form: site:your_site followed by *** -sjpked Example: site:www.domain.com *** -sjpked
Here are some other reasons your pages may not show up in the indexes or end up in the supplemental index:
- You have little or no unique content on pages
- Your pages have no or identical titles and descriptions
- Your site still has dynamically generated pages without static URLs (use mod_rewrite or similar to solve)
- You have used the same header, side navigation bars, and footers on all your pages
- Your site has many unlinked (orphaned) pages
- All links to your site are reciprocal rather than natural one way incoming links.
How do you check where you stand?
Checking where you stand and will depend on who you ask. The actual raw data of the number of visitors to your site is really not as relevant as is the quality of the visitors to your site. It really does not matter if you only have 100 visitors to your site each month if your goal is to have 10 sales and 10 out of the 100 visitors purchase your product. That would be much better than having one million visitors and no one purchasing your product. Use your web site statistics (log file analysis) as a guideline. People should be finding your site both as a result of a natural search, and additionally as a paid search result listing for you to have the highest conversion rates.
Some easy things to do for checking your site:
What else to do?
Optimize the content on your pages once you have created static pages using mod_rewrite or a similar product. You can choose appropriate key words and key word phrases using wordtracker.com or goodkeywords.com. A handy tool for analyzing your existing web pages is WebPositionGold (you should note that the use of WebPositionGold on google.com in an automated fashion violates their terms of service).
One of the best ways to get a good idea of what the search engines see when they visit your web site is to view your web page in a text only web browser such as Lynx. You might be surprised how the semantic presentation differs from your visual layout. The search engines treat HTML semantically. As an example, a H1 tag takes precedence over a font-size tag. Keep this in mind when viewing your pages in the text browser and consider adjusting the HTML accordingly.