Q and A: Does Ask.com Accept XML Sitemaps?

QuestionHi Kalena

I have uploaded my XML sitemap to Google, Yahoo and more recently Bing, thanks to your blog post about the Bing Webmaster Center.

However, I’m wondering if Ask.com accept XML sitemaps and if so, how do I upload mine to Ask?

thanks
Georgia

————————————–

Hello Georgia

Yes, Ask.com DO support XML Sitemap submissions. Here’s a blurb about it from their Webmaster Help area:

“Yes, Ask.com supports the open-format Sitemaps protocol. Once you have prepared a sitemap for your site, add the sitemap auto-discovery directive to robots.txt, or submit the sitemap file directly to us via the ping URL”

The ping URL is as follows:

http://submissions.ask.com/ping?sitemap=http%3A//www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml

To add your sitemap to your robots.txt file, simply include this line:

Sitemap: http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml

Actually it’s not just Ask that supports the addition of sitemaps in robots.txt. Did you know that both Google and Yahoo also support that method of sitemap delivery?

You can either submit your sitemap via the search engine’s appropriate submission interface (e.g. Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer, Bing Webmaster Center) or specify your sitemap location in your robots.txt file as per the above instructions.

Share this post with others

Q and A: Why isn’t Google showing my Backlinks?

Question

Dear Kalena…

I am a dentist who owns his own practice. My website (domain provided) currently has a page rank of zero and zero backlinks. This is despite many attempts to optimize my site, requests for backlinks, etc. I believe I do have a few linking sites with Page Ranks greater than 3. I don’t understand why they won’t show up in google backlinks? (Yes, i have the toolbar.) Any advice you could give me (in lay terms, i’m a website novice) would be greatly appreciated. thanks.

Ryan

Hi Ryan,

I’ve had a quick look at your site and you have a reasonable amount of keyword rich content, but the dentist niche (like many others) is rapidly becoming more competitive.  It’s not clear how long your site has been active, but with the PageRank of zero I’m guessing that your site has only been around for a relatively short time.  These days Google only updates the published PR of sites a few times a year so it probably doesn’t reflect the “real” PR value of your site.  Don’t be too concerned over this – it is likely to improve over the next few months.

Google is notorious for only publishing a very small subset of backlinks.  You are better to use Yahoo for checking your backlinks – use a search query of linkdomain:yourdomain.com -site:yourdomain.com , which will show you most sites that link to your domain (excluding your own internal links).  For your site, Yahoo is currently showing 29 backlinks.   Yahoo still only shows a subset of your links – but it is typically a lot more than Google shows.  For a more accurate list of backlinks from Google you should register your site with Googles webmaster tools.

As you are probably aware, establishing links to your site from external websites is very important to your rankings, so you should always be on the lookout for related sites that might be prepared to link to you – and don’t be afraid to ask.  There are many strategies for link building, and many agencies that offer a link building service.  You can even learn how to do it yourself via Search Engines College’s Link Building Course.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting SEO – Brisbane

Share this post with others

An Overview of Bing Webmaster Center

Hands up those of you who have verified your sites with Google Webmaster Tools? Ok, good. Now keep your hands up if you’ve done the same for Yahoo Site Explorer? Hmmm a few hands dropped then.

Now keep your hands up if you’ve verified your site with Bing Webmaster Center? Oh dear.

Seems quite a few webmasters are concentrating on Google and forgetting about the other major search engines. If you want to understand how search engines interact with your site and find potential issues before they impact your traffic, you really need to verify your site and sitemaps with the big 3 and monitor your stats regularly.

Most people are familiar with Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer, but today I want to give you a brief overview of Bing Webmaster Center.

To add a site to Bing Webmaster Center, simply login to your Bing account (or create a new one) and then type in a URL and a sitemap if you have one. You will be prompted to verify your site via either a meta verification tag you place in your home page header, or an XML file that you upload to your server.

Once you’ve verified your first site, you’ll see a dashboard that looks quite similar to Google Webmaster Tools, with the following tabs:

  • Summary – lists the date Bing last crawled your site, the number of indexed pages, your domain score and the top 5 pages of your site.
  • Profile – lists your URL, the verification process you used and the email address associated with your site.
  • Crawl Issues – lists any issues Bing discovered while crawling and indexing your site, such as 404 errors, malware infections and long dynamic URLs.
  • Backlinks – lists which webpages (including your own) are linking to your site.
  • Outbound Links – lists the web pages your site is linking to.
  • Keywords – allows you to see how your pages are performing in search results for specific keywords.
  • Sitemaps – provides various ways for you to notify MSNBot of new sitemaps or when you change an existing sitemap.

The following additional tools are available when you’re logged into Webmaster Center:

  • Robots.txt validator
  • HTTP verifier
  • Keyword research tool

So don’t ignore Bing Webmaster Center. Remember that Google is NOT the Internet.

Share this post with others

Q and A: Why are some directory backlinks not showing-up?

QuestionDear Kalena…

As I am submitting my site to directories as part of my link building campaign, I go back to some of the ones I submitted to 3 or 4 months ago and can see my info/link on these directories. However, when I check on Google WebMaster or Yahoo Site Explorer, these links are not listed as incoming links.

Can you tell me why that is?

Yen

Dear Yen…

There could be a number of reasons for this.

It’s not uncommon for some directories utilise the ‘nofollow’ tag, or use redirects or javascripts to link to your site. If any of these techniques have been applied, the link won’t be shown in the Webmaster / Site Explorer tools.

Some directories are very low quality, excessively employ reciprocal linking, sell links and/or link-out to bad neighbourhoods – if you’ve got a link from one of these directories, the link won’t pass any value and also may not be displayed in the link checking tools either.

Then there are the directories that are really big with hundreds/thousands of categories and sub-categories (and if those categories are not updated on a regular basis), then there’s also a very good chance that the spiders may not have crawled deeply enough to even find your link.

While submitting to a few of the more trusted directories isn’t a bad thing, my advice would be to adjust your link building approach.

Spend more time building relationships and trying to get a few really good, relevant links from well trusted sites instead of submitting to a bunch of average directories that most likely don’t pass much real link value.

Hope this helps!

Peter Newsome
SiteMost SEO Brisbane

Share this post with others

Q and A: How do I migrate my site without risking my SEO and rankings?

QuestionHi Kalena

You optimised my website back in 2004 when we first launched the site – did an amazing job – site still coming up first page of Google 5 years later with some minor keyword tweaking now and again. The site is pretty dated now and am just about to relauch it.

My questions are: MY new CMS has global meta description/keywords as well as page specific ones available. Should I utilise both of these or will it be too much and negatively affect ranking? Also any advice on migrating sites – am a little nervous I will fall off Google under the new site, particularly as one of the most important and high ranking pages will have a different URL. Am planning on reusing existing meta data. Also new site contains flash. Any advice on use of this – alt tags?

Thanks very much for any advice.

Hilary

————————————————————–

Dear Hilary

My word, that’s a lot of questions! Great to hear my SEO efforts from 5 years ago are still paying dividends.

On to your questions. Firstly, you should only ever use one set of META tags per page. Google and most other engines will simply take the first set indexed and ignore others so you are simply contributing to code bloat to include more than one. Each page of your site should have a dedicated title and META tags individually optimized for the unique content on that page.

Secondly, you mention that one of the pages already ranking will have a new URL. Does that mean that all your other pages will retain their existing URLs? That is the ideal outcome but not always possible. For any high-ranking pages that will change URL, make sure you use 301 redirects to point the old URL to the new one so that Google and other engines know it has moved. That will also ensure that anyone clicking on existing links to the old URL (whether in search engines, directories or on other sites) will be automatically taken to the new page. My SiteProNews post about moving a site using 301 redirect should guide you.

Also remember to update your sitemaps in Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer with your new pages.

Keep in mind that changing the structure of a page, let alone the content, will impact the way the page ranks. So your new CMS design may result in the page jumping or falling in the rankings. If the page content has been optimized for particular keywords, try to retain as much of the existing body text as you can. Use the opportunity of the redesign to optimize your existing pages for new keywords and optimize any new pages added.

Good luck!

Share this post with others