Google-Friendlier

14 Mar 2005

I just took some suggestions from a post on Scribbling.net to “help the Googlebot understand my website.” That’s why the title of each blog entry is now linked to, rather than having the “Link” link at the end of each entry.

Why? Well, Google associates the text you use to link to entries with the content of the links’ destinations. For example, if everyone with a website linked the word crap to microsoft.com, microsoft.com would become the number one search result for the word crap even though the word “crap” appears nowhere on Microsoft’s site. That’s why the words you use to link should be relevant. (It’s also the stuff Google bombs are made of.)

The word “link” is not at all relevant to the content of an entry. It’s essentially meaningless, just like “click here” or “here.” A surprising number of sites apparently don’t seem to care at all about this (Boing Boing, for example). I suppose those sites figure they owe nothing to the internet, or the budding Semantic Web, or whatever, and just want to do their own thing. I guess I’m more of a team player in this respect.

Anyway, Scribbling.net’s suggestions are worth checking out.

Also, if you read comments (including ones to old entries), you may be interested in the changes I made to the “Responses” box in the left column. Now you can click on [view] for a popup window of just the comments for that entry. This makes for faster comment viewing. If you want to see the whole entry as well as the comments that follow it (or if you just don’t like javascript), then click on the linked entry title.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Thanks, John. I’ll try to get this to our website builder. I’ll also keep it in mind in case I become the designate web site maintainer.

  2. Nice and informative, Thanks John..
    Good to see your still kicking around in SH..

    Love to hear about your trip to taiwan with wilson. flick us an email if you get a chance..

  3. Thanks for the good info.

    I read on Scribbling.net that the Googlebot only reads text.

    So how would the link on your main page to all other parts of your site (which is not text based) affect the Googlebot?

  4. Anony,

    There’s a reason I wrote that “I took some suggestions” from Scribbling.net.

    Yes, you’re right, technically I should have text links on the main page. In this case, though, my site is not new and has already been pretty thoroughly indexed by the Googlebot (remember, the Googlebot finds my pages via internal links, but also via external links, such as other blogs’ links to my blog). So I’m not really going to sweat it.

    The menu on the front page is actually only meant to be temporary, so when I update it, I’ll add text links.

  5. mr. snarky Says: March 15, 2005 at 10:34 pm

    Might want to augment your website’s stated goal to include “..and to raise my web profile as determined by Google.” I hope you aren’t kidding yourself by thinking that playing the Google ratings game won’t affect your decisions about what to write.

  6. snarky,

    You clearly aren’t a regular reader of this blog.

  7. mr. snarky Says: March 15, 2005 at 11:42 pm

    Touche, sort of. But I was refering to something much more insidious than the Chinese censors you may or may not have recently run up against, if that’s what you were after: the temptation to write the kind of trendy, middle-america, corporate friendly stuff that will get you traffic via google. Without being too obnoxious, so I can check the little box in good faith, do you not think that helping the Googlebot understand your website is a step toward tailoring your website to the kind of discerning surfer that high google ratings bring in? That would after all pull in the same intellectual giants who have made Janet Jackson, Vin Diesel, and ‘spring break’ top ten searches this week.

  8. snarky,

    I know exactly what you meant, but I don’t think that’s a strong temptation for me, and I’ve been blogging for a few years now.

    I write mostly about topics that the masses are not at all interested in. I just want the people that want to read what I write to be able to find it. That’s where Google comes in.

  9. Scribbling.net also states “Now, Google doesn’t explicitly recommend this [changing permalinks],” so it’s not clear whether changing your permalinks from just “link” a real title to really helps Google understand any better than what sites like BoingBoing do. BoingBoing’s actual permalink addresses include parts of the titles of their posts. So, when you do a Google search for “daily show clips” BB is the third result (www.boingboing.net/2004/10/31/daily_show_clips_gal.html).

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