I recently had the opportunity to ask questions of some Google staffers. There were some questions I felt I needed to get
verification on, so when I had the opportunity via a conference call I took it.
In this article I highlight some of the points made during the call so you know what Google thinks.
You know it's bad when you take time from your holidays to come into work to attend a conference call. But that's what I did a
few weeks ago. You see I had to because I was going to have the opportunity to ask some Google employees specific questions on
things that I'd been pretty sure about, but wanted to hear it right from the horse's mouth.
The call lasted less than an hour, but in that time I found that there were many things I believed that were indeed true. So let's
start with the most obvious:
Is Pagerank Still Important?
The short answer is yes - PageRank has always been important to Google. Naturally they couldn't go into detail, but it is as I
suspected. Google still uses the algorithm to help determine rankings. Where it falls in the algo mix, though, is up for
speculation. My feeling however is that they've simply moved where the PageRank value is applied in the grand scheme of things.
If you want to know what I think, be sure to read this
Are Dynamic URLs Bad?
Google says that a dynamic URL with 2 parameters "should" get indexed. When we pressed a bit on the issue we also found that URLs
themselves don't contribute too much to the overall ranking algorithms. In other words, a page named Page1.asp will likely perform
as well as Keyword.asp.
The whole variable thing shouldn't come as a surprise. It is true that Google will indeed index dynamic URLs and I've seen sites
with as many as 4 variables get indexed. The difference however is that in almost all cases I've seen the static URLs outrank the
dynamic URLs especially in highly competitive or even moderately competitive keyword spaces.
Is URL Rewriting OK in Google's Eyes?
Again, the answer is yes, provided the URLs aren't too long. While the length of the URL isn't necessarily an issue, if they get
extremely long they can cause problems.
In my experience, long rewritten URLs perform just fine. The important thing is the content on the page.
That was a common theme throughout the call - content is king. Sure optimized meta tags, effective interlinking and externalizing
Do You Need to Use the Google Sitemap Tool?
If your site is already getting crawled effectively by Google, you do not need to use the Google sitemap submission tool.
The sitemap submission tool was created by Google to provide a way for sites which normally do not get crawled effectively to now
become indexed by Google.
My feeling here is that if you MUST use the Google sitemap to get your site indexed, then you have some serious architectural
issues to solve.
In other words, just because your pages get indexed via the sitemap doesn't mean they will rank. In fact, I'd bet you that they
won't rank because of those technical issues I mentioned above.
Here I'd recommend getting a free tool like Xenu and spider your site yourself. If Xenu has problems, then you can almost be
assured of Googlebot crawling problems. The nice thing with Xenu is that it can help you find those problems, such as broken
links, so that you can fix them.
Once your site becomes fully crawlable by Xenu I can almost guarantee you that it will be crawlable and indexable by the major
search engine spiders.
Does Clean Code Make That Much of a Difference?
Again, the answer is yes. By externalizing any code you can and cleaning up things like tables, you can greatly improve your
goes up which makes the page more authoritative.
Similarly, minimizing the use of tables also helps reduce the HTML to text ratio, making the text that much more important.
Also, as a tip, your visible text should appear as close to the top of your HTML code as possible. Sometimes this is difficult,
however, as elements like top and left navigation appear first in the HTML. If this is the case, consider using CSS to reposition
the text and those elements appropriately.
Do Keywords in the Domain Name Harm or Help You?
The short answer is neither. However, too many keywords in a domain can set off flags for review. In other words blue-widgets.com
won't hurt you but discount-and-cheap-blue-and-red-widgets.com will likely raise flags and trigger a review.
Page naming follows similar rules - while you can use keywords as page names, it doesn't necessarily help (as I mentioned above).
Further, long names can cause reviews which will delay indexing.
How Many Links Should You Have on Your Sitemap?
Google recommends 100 links per page.
While I've seen pages with more links get indexed, it appears that it takes much longer. In other words, the first 100 links
will get indexed right away, however, it can take a few more months for Google to identify and follow any links greater than 100.
If your site is larger than 100 pages (as many are today), consider splitting up your sitemap into multiple pages which interlink
with each other, or create a directory structure within your sitemap. This way you can have multiple sitemaps that are logically
organized and will allow for complete indexing of your site.
account for the crawlers not finding them. Therefore, the use of a sitemap can help get those links found and crawled.
and you should be able to find a spiderable alternative to whatever type of navigation your site currently has.
Overall, while I didn't learn anything earth shattering, it was good to get validation "from the horse's mouth" so to speak.
I guess it just goes to show that there is enough information out there on the forums and blogs. The problem is determining which
information is valid and which isn't. But that, I'm afraid, usually comes with time and experience.
About The Author
Rob Sullivan - SEO Specialist and Internet Marketing Consultant. Any reproduction of this article needs to have an html link
pointing to http://www.textlinkbrokers.com.