As mentioned before, when it comes to transforming your website into a tool to deliver qualified leads, content is king. The more content you have for a particular keyword, the more likely you’ll appear high up on the search results page. Thus, one of the key ways to get ranked high on the organic search results for your selected keywords is to have as many pages as possible dedicated to those keywords indexed with the search engines.
But how do you ensure that that these important pages are indexed? We’ve covered sub page best practices, keyword placement, link building, and basic on page optimization in other articles. One additional way to increase the likelihood that the pages geared toward your important keywords are indexed in the search engines is to make sure your main navigation bar does not consist entirely of images, flash or java script. Search engines can’t read images, flash and java script, so if the main navigation bar consists of these items and if the main navigation bar is the only path to enter the underlying pages of your website, then a lot of those pages will not be indexed.
This shortcoming hurts in three ways:
- Your home page becomes the only index able page, so if it’s not optimized for your keywords, then you won’t even appear on the organic search results when a browser searches for your keyword. Think of all the lost business in this scenario.
- Ideally, when a browser does a search for a keyword, you want the page(s) dedicated to that keyword to appear in the search results because those pages have keyword specific content, and calls to action. If these pages can’t be found by the search engines, then they can’t be indexed. Again – think of all the lost business in this scenario.
- Only those browsers who know your company or know about the particular page will visit it because it’s basically invisible to all others.
If you’re using Firefox, to tell if your navigation bar is image based, put your cursor over the About Us section and right click on it. If the pop up box has a category that says “view image“, then you know it’s an image. Click on the properties tab to see if you’re using alt tags, which are good but not as good as straight text.
To see if a particular page is indexed, copy and paste the url into the Google search bar.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. To be totally impartial, I did a search on Google for the term “Massachusetts software companies”. At the bottom of page seven, appeared a company called Bonaire Software Solutions. Their url is http://www.bonairesoft.com. Follow the steps above and you’ll see that their main navigation bar is images with no alt text. Click on the Services Overview link and then copy and paste that link into a Google search. Here’s the result for that search “Your search – http://www.bonairesoft.com/service_oerview.html – did not match any documents.” I hope this isn’t an important page for this company because nobody doing a search will find this page directly. The only people who will find that page are those who already know it exists and those clicking through from the homepage.
If your main navigation bar is images, then there are five things you need to do to ensure that the search engines are able to crawl your website and index the underlying pages.
- Add a text description to the images via the alt tag.
- Make sure you have a text based navigation on the footer of every page.
- Make sure you have plenty of relevant inbound links to your sub pages.
- Have a search engine friendly sitemap one click away from every page.
- Make sure you’re following SEO best practices on each page.
Besides image based navigation, there are other reasons that page might not be indexed. Some of these reasons include: not enough content on the page and/or duplicate content.