Sunday, January 14, 2007

Search Engine Webmaster Services

Recently I have been working on a new website. You know what that means? That's right, search engine submission. I went to Google and found their Webmaster Tools fairly easy. Then I went to Yahoo and found Site Explorer easily as well. Both services allow you to see the information each search has on your site, though how much information you actually see and what you can do with that information is limited.

Google has Google Webmaster Tools which allows you to link to a sitemap, check out robots.txt information, see web crawl information, get page rank information, and other things of this nature. I have learned a few things from the service such as how to set up a sitemap to help Google index my site better and how to set up a robots.txt to screen what info search spiders are allowed to see. The service is ok and I can see it being useful but I think the service needs some work before I would call it great, though they do let you vote on the tools which is good for feedback I suppose. These kinds of services could be helpful if they actually did something useful. Knowing your page rank on Google is great but there is no way to change your listing or correct mistakes that I can find. For example, one of my sites has several errors listing missing links. It has been quite awhile since those pages existed and even making sure the sitemap was up to date did not get rid of all the errors, though nothing in my current website links to these pages.

Yahoo has Yahoo! Site Explorer which allows you to associate an xml feed with your site and verify that the site is yours. A sitemap is an XML file so you can link it with your site here just like a RSS feed. The explorer function does nothing noteworthy other than allows you to see very limited info about what listing Yahoo has on file and verification of your site does not give you access to more information that I can find.

I was curious so I went over and checked out Live.com, Microsoft's search engine site. After looking around and not seeing anything, a search turned up a submission form to submit a website to Live.com. No other usability that I could find involving sitemaps, xml feeds, or anything else.

Overall I would say using these services is worth the effort just to be able to see what information a search engine has on file for your site. Without a way to correct that information or a way to have the site re-spidered in a timely manner, these services will continue to be limited to information and not much real help in improving your site for search or improving the search for your site. I would like to see suggestions foremost, suggestions from each search provider on how to get better listings in their search engine is good information everyone could use. I would also like to see a better error system in the least that would let you know which page in your site has generated the error not just which page is missing. So, I hope we see some real growth in these services this year with new ways to help track and interact with what information the search engines index about our sites.

**UPDATE (1/14/2007 - 11:20pm) It seems Google Webmaster Tools is a fast service. I included XNA Portal in the service on Friday, submitted a sitemap on Saturday and I am now receiving hits from Google Search on Sunday. So, about a 2-3 day turnaround from listing it to getting hits, some within the top ten on certain searches, not to bad in my book. I definitely recommend this service to anyone promoting a website.

2 comments:

Lord Matt said...

If you have an apache server then you can use .htaccess (leading dot) to redirect r=301 to some general this page is not here. All the page rank these pages that don't exist would have will pour onto the new page. 301 is the moved permanantly message.

Thanks for the review I think I might have to link to it.

tijir said...

That's very interesting. I will definately set it up, thanks for the tip :)

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