One of the most
fundamental aspects of search engine optimisation
(SEO) is ensuring that the pages within your website are
as accessible as possible to the search engines. It's
not only the homepage of a website that can be indexed,
but also the internal pages within a site's structure.
The internal pages of a site often contain important content
such as products, services or general information, and
therefore can be uniquely optimised for related terms.
As a result, easy access to these pages is vital.
There are many
do's and don'ts involved in ensuring all of your pages
can be found by search engines. However, it is important
to first establish how the search engines find and index
use "robots" (also known as "bots"
or "spiders") to find content on the web for
inclusion in their index. A robot is a computer programme
that can follow the hyperlinks on a web page, which is
known as "crawling". When a robot finds a document
it includes the contents within the search engine's index,
then follows the next links it can find and continues
the process of crawling and indexing. With this in mind,
it becomes apparent that the navigational structure of
a website is important in getting as many pages as possible
the navigational structure of your site, the hierarchy
of content should be considered. Search engines judge
what they feel to be the most important pages of a site
when considering rankings and a page's position in the
site structure can influence this. The homepage is generally
considered the most important page of a site - it is the
top level document and usually attracts the most inbound
links. From here, search engine robots can normally reach
pages that are within three clicks of the homepage. Therefore,
your most important pages should be one click away, the
next important two clicks away and so forth.
The next thing
to consider is how to link the pages together. Search
engine robots can only follow generic HTML href links,
and submit buttons will all be inaccessible to robots.
Links with query strings that have two or more parameters
are also typically ignored, so be aware of this if you
run a dynamically generated website.
The best links
to use from an SEO perspective are generic HTML text
links, as not only can they be followed by robots but
the text contained in the anchor can also be used to describe
the destination page - an optimisation plus point. Image
links are also acceptable but the ability to describe
the destination page is diminished, as the alt attribute
is not given as much ranking weight as anchor text.
The most natural
way to organise content on a website is to categorise
it. Break down your products, services or information
into related categories and then structure this so that
the most important aspects are linked to from the homepage.
If you have a vast amount of information for each category
then again you will want to narrow your content down further.
This could involve having articles on a similar topic,
different types of product for sale, or content that can
be broken down geographically. Categorisation is natural
optimisation - the further you break down your information
the more content you can provide and the more niche key
phrases there are that can be targeted.
If you are still
concerned that your important pages may not get indexed,
then you can consider adding a sitemap to your website.
A sitemap can be best described as an index page - it
is a list of links to all of the pages within a site contained
on one page. If you link to a sitemap from your homepage
then it gives a robot easy access to all of the pages
within your site. Just remember - robots typically can't
follow more than 100 links from one page, so if your site
is larger than this you may want to consider spreading
your sitemap across several pages.
There are many
considerations to make when optimising your site for
search engines, and making your pages accessible to search
engine robots should be the first step of your optimisation
process. Following the advice above will help you make
your entire site accessible and aid you in gaining multiple
rankings and extra traffic.