Once you’ve created a website, you need to let Google know it exists. Then you should give Google and the others some guidance on how to index your site properly. Here are some ways you can help it along.
There are three basic things you should take into consideration when helping any search engine:
1. XML Sitemap
Google recommends having an XML Sitemap, and so do most search engines (and so do I). An XML Sitemap is an easy-to-create file that helps search engines understand your site.
A typical XML Sitemap helps search engines index all the pages on your site, specify which pages are more important and how often should these be visited. You can read more about XML Maps on my previous post.
2. Robots.txt file
Most people use a robots.txt file to stop search engine from indexing certain pages or directories.
For example, if you don’t want your site’s images appearing on Google, you can make your robots.txt file tell Google not look at the folder where you have your images. Or if you have a page that is not ready to be published, you can specify that in robots.txt file too.
The Web Robot Pages is a good place to learn more about the robots.txt file.
3. Meta tags
You can also guide Google and most search engines with HTML “Meta Tags.” These are lines of code near the top of your page that give all sorts of information to the search engines that visit your site.
The three most common HTML Meta Tags are:
- <title>Your Page Title</title> (This is very important, make sure your page has a relevant title. Also, the “Title” tag is technically not a Meta Tag, but commonly treated as one.)
- <meta name=”description” content=”A short description of this page’s content. This will probably appear in Google’s search result under the title.”>
- <meta name=”keywords” content=”write, no more, than five, keywords”> (Google doesn’t use keywords to determine what’s on your site. Other search engines do take these into consideration, but the page’s content is much more important.)
There are other useful Meta Tags, like the one mentioned on the video:
<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>
Here’s a link to a good article on common meta tags.
This video is from Google’s Youtube Channel and it talks about the basics of “Discoverability” (another word made-up by techies).