See your web site like search engines do

Hey search fans

I’m tired, sore and grumpy today so just a short post from me.

I’m not sure why I’ve not heard of this site before but some Twitter homies put me on to it today. If you’ve ever wondered how search engines see your site when they index it, check out SEO Browser. It parses your site just like a search bot and displays your site in the format that most search engines “see” it in.

It works just like the old Lynx browser, but is web-based so you don’t need to download anything in order to use it. Simply enter your URL and watch the magic.

So why is it helpful to view your site as search engines see it? Well I’m glad you asked. That’s because you can gauge what parts of your code are being indexed first, what parts are ignored and what parts could be tripping up bots.  Is there extraneous code impacting your keyword density for the page? Is the meaty part of your text being pushed down the indexing chain because of a serious case of code bloat? Is that Flash file stopping robots in their tracks? SEO Browser can answer all those questions.

If you choose the Advanced Analysis you even get a mini SEO review, including word count, link count, meta tag check, server response codes, redirects and text to page weight ratio. It’s a great tool and one I’ll be adding to the recommended resources for Search Engine College students. Nice work Ian!

My Favorite WordPress Plugins for 2008

I’ve had a couple of people ask me which WordPress plugins I use these days and the answer is that I have a couple of staples and the others I mix up on a regular basis depending on their usefulness or my mood.

I’m putting together a more detailed article about these soon, but in the meantime, here is a list of my favorite WordPress plugins that I’ve used on a regular basis in 2008:

I’ll do a more in-depth post soon describing the features of each, but for now, it’s Friday night and ice-cream and raspberries are beckoning.

Q and A: Is it a good idea to use a different domain for each product?

QuestionHi Kalena

In Lesson 3 of SEO 201, there is a suggestion that “if you sell wool socks AND cotton socks, then have a page dedicated to each kind”.

The owner of the website I’m trying to optimize said that she was once told that it’s a good idea to have several domain names for that same purpose. For example, have a separate domain for wool socks and one for cotton socks. What do you think of that idea?

Jena

Dear Jena

I think that’s a terrible idea. You can read up on this issue here but basically, creating multiple sites defeats the whole purpose of trying to attract traffic and promote a single brand. If you have multiple web sites, not only is it confusing to customers, but other sites will be linking back to several sites instead of your main site/brand and that dilutes your link popularity.

Google and other engines will be looking at the number of links your site has pointing to it and if those links are spread across several domains, you will lose trust-rank and therefore won’t rank as highly as you would if all links pointed to your single site.

I understand the desire to rank for several products, but you can easily achieve this on a single domain if you design individual pages for each product and carefully optimize those pages for keywords relating to each. Alternatively, you can use sub-domains for each product which provides the bonus of having each product page sitting at the root level of your site. Google staff actually recommend using sub-domains in this manner.

More information on this issue can be found in these older posts:

Could purchasing and redirecting multiple domains to our main site hurt us from an SEO perspective?

How do we stop our domains from competing with each other for search rankings?