• Are you unintentionally spamming the search engines? Search for old pages on
your site that are still live and displaying the same content as your new pages.
Check to make sure your pages aren’t doing something silly and spammy, like
displaying text that’s the same color as the background.
• One of our favorite mysteries to investigate: Exactly which page on your site
does Google think is your “official” page? (You learned about a related topic—
canonical URL problems—in the section “Week 5: Site Structure Improvements”
in Chapter 8.) Search for your organization’s name and check the URL that
Google returns for this search. It may be your home page, or it may be an alter-
nate domain, or it may something else deep within your site. Are you surprised?
Dismayed? What’s the reason that this URL is displaying? Is it the number of
pages linking to this page? Is it that the “official” URL is the only listing your
site has in the Open Directory?
• Do you know how to search like an expert? Try using advanced search opera-
tors on your favorite search engine. For example, Yahoo! allows you to build
your own search shortcuts. You can define a shortcut so you can type just
“!pix” into the search box and Yahoo! will automatically search for “pictures of
ethanol vehicles” or whatever you prefer. Or, try one of the numerous built-in
shortcuts, listed here:
. Are there any
that your target audience might be using?
• Are your competitors tracking their conversions using Google Analytics? Peek
into their source code and look for the Google Analytics tracking tag. (Just
search for the text string “google-analytics” in their code, and you’ll see the
• Are there any additional domains that your organization should own? For example,
do you own a .org domain name but not the .com? If a searcher had to guess at
your site’s URL, what do you think it would be? And, when is your current domain
set to expire? Make sure you don’t inadvertently let it run out.
• Howz yore spelleng? Search for misspellings of your product or service and see
what comes up.
• Do a little volunteer work for the search engines by helping them clean spam
out of their listings. Every major search engine allows you to report spammers;
Google’s spam reporting tool can be found at
• What are people saying about your organization on discussion boards? Look to
Lycos Discussion Search at
to find out. Or, see where
you stand on the blogs at
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