Registering your website
You should register your new website with the Open Directory Project, dmoz.org. This has limited effect on your ranking these days compared to years gone by, but will help your site be recognised by search engines while it is new (although obtaining a listing on dmoz can take quite some time). Dmoz listing is free but requires that your site follows some guidelines. There are other directories you can consider, most of which require paying a fee. It’s not strictly necessary to register with a directory to grow your site’s popularity, so do not invest major effort in doing so. If your site is already well established and its content is optimized, getting listed in any single directory will not have further impact on your search ranking, as search engines will already have a clear idea of your site’s popularity for given search terms. You can also register directly with individual search engines.
WebPlus offers easy integration with free Google and Bing Webmaster services, which provide a direct way to manage your search settings with those providers. You can ‘validate’ your website by adding piece of code or a single file to your site, proving that you are the site owner and establishing your role as master and commander of a website. You can also set up visitor analytics, advertising, and other services.
Select Site Properties from WebPlus’s Edit menu then click on Google Validation in the Search Engine section at the left. Click the Visit the Google Webmaster Tools Site button. Sign in if you have a Google account (otherwise, click the SIGN UP button). Add your site address (it must be published online to do this) and follow Google’s instructions. The recommended method of validating your site is to include a file with your site, but you can easily add a snippet of HTML code to your home page. We’ve created mini videos covering these tasks for Google and Bing, and written instructions for these WebPlus tasks in the Help system (in the Using File Manager or Attaching HTML Code topics).
So now you’ve added the file to your site, or the HTML fragment to the head section of your home page, click VERIFY. You’ll need to follow these steps again for Bing validation, it’s an almost identical process so shouldn’t take long.
You can choose which pages in your site are scanned and analysed (indexed) by search engine bots and which of your pages are ignored. This gives you flexibility to make sure all the pages you want people to find get found, to “hide” pages from public view, and to add more information such as a page’s update frequency. The update frequency tag will suggest to the search engine how often their bots should rescan your pages.
Again in WebPlus’s Site Properties, click Indexing in the Search Engine section at the left. There are two types of indexing file that WebPlus can make for you to help search engines understand your site. One file offers the direct ability to exclude pages from indexing, while the other is a sitemap.
Robot meta tags and robots.txt
Check the Create robots meta tags and Create search engine robots file (robots.txt) boxes to list your pages as searchable. As we’re currently editing Site Properties, this will enable the option for all of your pages. To prevent a page being scanned by search engine bots and being listed in search results, you can override this global setting. Just go to the page you want to exclude, select Page Properties from the Edit menu, and uncheck Index this page.
You can also choose, using the same Site Properties or Page Properties dialogs, whether search engines should follow hyperlinks found on your pages. Following hyperlinks allows search engine bots to find and scan all your interlinked site pages, which has a positive effect on your site’s visibility. Unchecking this option for specific pages e.g. those containing links to other sites, can also have a positive effect on your site particularly if any of your external links are to low quality sites. Excluding pages containing external links will also negate the positive impact of those links on other sites’ rankings. Just enable or disable Follow links from this page, for your whole site or single pages as you require.
Check the Create search engine sitemap file option in Site Properties to create a Google-friendly index of pages you want to be searched. This list includes all pages by default, and will exclude individual pages you’ve chosen not to index (as described above). This index file is named sitemap.xml by default but you can change the name in this dialog if you want to keep it hidden from casual snoopers (remember to give Google the correct file name via your Google account).
The sitemap.xml file can also list each page’s priority and refresh frequency, so these are settings you should modify for each page using the Page Properties dialog. Be honest with this information. If you don’t think a page is going to update very often, don’t specify that it will change Hourly; bad SEO practices can be punished. For Page Priority, you can leave the default value of 0.5 for each page and let the search engine decide for itself which of your pages matter the most. If you wish, you can rank your own pages from top priority (1.0) down to the lowest priority (0.1) as a guideline. Again, if you are going to specify a priority, be fair, don’t set all pages at the maximum 1.0.
Although it’s the same word, this sitemap indexing file for search engines is not the same as a sitemap page that your visitors could use to navigate their way about your site – although you should also have one of those to improve your site’s visibility.
How about registering your business on an actual map, so that people can find you in real life? This could be even better than making a sitemap so that people can find all your pages, and like many other SEO recommendations it’s free of charge! Searching while using a map is on the increase with the rise in use of GPS-enabled smartphones and other gadgets; an obvious example is people finding restaurants while travelling, but the possibilities are as varied as people’s activities. Simply visit Google Places and other local services to add your business description, website address, and photo – and maybe reviews too if you can rally some real customers – then check it out on Google Maps.