Search Engine Indexing

Your site is as big as life and twice as handsome, but still doesn’t get enough traffic? That hurts. And, to be truly honest – it sucks.

Sure, there is a great idea behind any standing-out online solution. There’s definitely an unbeatable one backing up your online business, right? Yet, ideas are worthless on their own. What’s the point of being revolutionary if nobody knows about you?

We are currently talking about something we, at QArea, love to call “the masterpiece” effect. Simply imagine the impact one of Picasso’s paintings has on the entire mankind as we know it. Did this happen because Pablo was a brilliant artist with an extraordinary, outstanding personality he could transfer into his work? Most definitely.

But was his vision all it took?

Unlikely.

To tell you the truth, despite all the effort Pablo invested in his art he was quite broke and unknown up until 1920s. At the time when he met Paul Rosenberg, Paul was an art dealer. With his help Picasso made a wide variety of important acquaintances.

Those were the connections introducing a young artist’s works to the world. They were Picasso’s Google, Yahoo, and Bing. These people allowed others to witness his genius, not the other way around.

A deal with the dealer!

We now understand that having a product online is not enough. It requires assistance from outside in order to dominate. Consider Search Engine Optimization as your arts dealer, a famous person people already go to when looking for rare and unique masterpieces.

Will such a person work with you for free and without any conditions or requirements whatsoever? Would you work for free in such a person’s shoes? That’s what I thought.

And, even if money is not the issue, dealers would prefer to purchase and spread quality products. Your art really needs to be a masterpiece. It has to be unique. It has to be of value to others. Every single decent dealer tests new art before showing pieces to the public.

However, Google as well as other search engines are not your ordinary art dealers. And their requirements slightly differ:

All they really want is for your site to be as optimized as possible. It makes their life easier. Optimized sites ensure search engines understand that whatever masterpiece is before them is not a fake, but a product worth selling to others. And, this ensures your art is exactly what you are trying to give it credit for.

Whose terms will you play on?

All that's noted above makes it sound like you need the dealer more than he needs your website. That mindset is wrong. There’s a bargain to every deal, you see…

Search engines demand sites that are entirely, absolutely open to their search bots. Giving them what they want would be madness! And, additionally, it wouldn’t even be beneficial. Not to you, nor to them.

You might have content that the world is not supposed to see. It’s either for internal use, or some copies of pages (that’s duplicate content).

Such pages are usually of no value to a site’s visitors and you keep them for some practical, internal reasons, right? And, correct me if I’m wrong, but you do realize that showing them to Google is a bad idea. Content that’s placed there might kill your ranging, right?

4 levers of absolute control

All that, noted above, leads us to the tastiest part of our story. We are about to dive into those juicy tools your site should be using in order to fully control Search Engine Indexing. We love to call them “The Search Engine Control Levers”. These are some neat Drupal modules and handy solutions capable of doing actual magic in the right hands!

  • Lever 1 – The Metatag Module. What are metatags? The means used to describe a site in search results the way you wish to. Without META descriptions search engines will display your pages with the first few lines of content placed on them. And that will most certainly work out undeniably wrong for you, considering the first words on your page are surely not as descriptive and tempting as they should be to grab enough attention.

    What will the Metatag Module give you? Primarily it’s a great mean to add structured metatags to your site’s pages. The module does so automatically. And it also extends reach throughout social media as it support’s Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol and Twitter Cards. This means you will be able to control the looks of your content on-site and in social media.

  • Lever 2 – XML Sitemap Module. A sitemap’s value can hardly be overestimated. It is The Protocol webmasters use to communicate with search engines. Basically, your sitemap is an XML file that lists all URLs and allows you to include additional information about them. Information like: how often does the URL change, when it was last updated, how valuable it is, when compared to other site’s URLs, etc. Webmasters can advise search engines on what to look for and, more importantly, how to do so via the Sitemap XML file.

    What good is the XML Sitemap Module for? It makes life easier. The module creates a great sitemap that fits all sitemap.org regulations and specifications. Additionally, any sitemap created with the module may be automatically submitted to Google, Ask, Yahoo and Bing, which is nice.

  • Lever 3 – Robots TXT. Robots TXT aka Robots Exclusion, aka Robots Exclusion Protocol is the basic standard websites use to communicate with search bots as well as other web robots. If we were to use plain English – the protocol is a set of rules and regulations that specify which areas of the site are not meant to be scanned or analyzed by search bots. The file is used to inform search engines about pages of poor or zero relevance to indexing.

  • Lever 4 – The Global redirect Module + .htaccess rules. What is the 301 redirect? It is a permanent redirect responsible for passing 90-99% of all ranking power to the chosen page. Google recommends using it, when the need comes to directing search engines to the exact spot they should aim efforts on. But Google’s recommendations are of poor assistance to website owners, considering they tell you what must be done and are not too clear on the “how” part. Luckily we, at QArea, are here to help!

    .htaccess rules. Let’s say your website is accessible with and without the good old “www.” prefix. This may lead to numerous unsatisfying events such as page doubles and, as a result – double indexing that literally demolishes the value and uniqueness of your content in the eagle-sharp eyes of the search engine. That’s when .htaccess comes along to assist you in the time of need.

    The rules you are to use if you wish to redirect all users to the pages with the www. index:

    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} .
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\. [NC]
    RewriteRule ^ http%{ENV:protossl}://www.%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

    And when we are doing the opposite:

    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.(.+)$ [NC]
    RewriteRule ^ http%{ENV:protossl}://%1%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

    As simple as that!

    Surely even the process of redirecting may be automated to ensure further comfort and higher levels of efficiency. We use the Global redirect Module for that at QArea, in most cases.

    This amazing Drupal module checks if current URLs have any alias and does a slick-&-sharp 301 redirect to them. The module also powers users to create custom 301’s straight from the admin back-end of the site and has many other useful features.

Now you are the master!

These simple tools and tricks allow you to beneficially bargain with your new arts dealers. You will have the recognition you deserve, and you will have it on your terms!

All that’s left is finding a team capable of integrating these solutions into your own website.

Sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it?