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Resources for Web Developers

Web Publishing/Search Best Practices
When working with the Google Search Appliance, use these tips and guidelines to improve the search experience for users trying to find your content.

Make web pages for users, not for search engines
Create a useful, information-rich content site. Write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content. Don't load pages with irrelevant words. Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.

Focus on text
Focus on the text on your site. Make sure that your TITLE and ALT tags are descriptive and accurate. Since the Google crawler doesn't recognize text contained in images, avoid using graphical text and instead place information within the alt and anchor text of pictures. When linking to non-HTML documents, use strong descriptions within the anchor text that describe the links your site is making.

Make your site easy to navigate
Make a site with a clear hierarchy of hypertext links. Every page should be reachable from at least one hypertext link. Offer a site map to your users with hypertext links that point to the important parts of your site. Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).

Ensure that your site is linked
Ensure that your site is linked from all relevant sites within your network. Interlinking between sites and within sites gives the Google crawler additional ability to find content, as well as improving the quality of the search.

Make sure that the Google crawler can read your content
Validate all HTML content to ensure that the HTML is well-formed. Use a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site, because most search engine spiders see your site much as Lynx would. If extra features such as JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, frames, DHTML, or Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser, then search engine crawlers may have trouble crawling your site.

Allow search bots to crawl your sites without session IDs or arguments that track their path through the site. These techniques are useful for tracking individual user behavior, but the access pattern of bots is entirely different. Using these techniques may result in multiple copies of the same document being indexed for your site, as crawl robots will see each unique URL (including session ID) as a unique document.

Ensure that your site's internal link structure provides a hypertext link path to all of your pages. The Google search engine follows hypertext links from one page to the next, so pages that are not linked to by others may be missed. Additionally, you should consult the administrator of your Google Search Appliance to ensure that your site's home page is accessible to the search engine.

Understand why some documents may be missing from the index
Each time that the Google Search Appliance updates its database of web pages, the documents in the index can change. Here are a few examples of reasons why pages may not appear in the index.

  • Your content pages may have been intentionally blocked by a robots.txt file or ROBOTS meta tags.
  • Your web site was inaccessible when the crawl robot ttempted to access it, due to network or server outage. If this happens, the Google Search Appliance will retry multiple times; but if the site cannot be crawled, it will not be included in the index.
  • The Google crawl robot cannot find a path of links to your site from the starting points it was given.
  • Your content pages may not be considered relevant to the query you entered. Ensure that the query terms exist on your target page.
  • Your content pages contain invalid HTML code.
  • Your content pages were manually removed from the index by the Google Search Appliance administrator.

Don't use frames!
In addition to being against UWM web policy, frames tend to cause problems with search engines, bookmarks, e-mail links and so on, because frames don't fit the conceptual model of the web (where every document corresponds to a single URL).

Avoid placing content and links in script code
Most search engines do not read any information found in SCRIPT tags within an HTML document. This means that content within script code will not be indexed, and hypertext links within script code will not be followed when crawling. When using a scripting language, make sure that your content and links are outside SCRIPT tags.


The content above was provided by Google.

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