The search engine spiders need to be able to read and interpret your website’s code to properly
spider and index the content on your web pages. Do not confuse this with the rules of
organizations such as the W3C, which issues guidelines on HTML construction. Although
following the W3C guidelines can be a good idea, the great majority of sites do not follow these
guidelines, so search engines generally overlook violations of these rules as long as their spiders
can parse the code.
Unfortunately, there are also a number of ways that navigation and content can be rendered
on web pages that function for humans, but are invisible (or challenging) for search engine
This is a popular method of helping users rapidly find their way around complex sites. For
example, the Pew Internet website provides Site Search in the top-right corner; this is a great
tool for users, but search engines will be stymied by it. Search engines operate by crawling the
Web’s link structure—they don’t submit forms or attempt random queries into search fields,
and thus, any URLs or content solely accessible via a “site search” function will remain invisible
to Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
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The IP address of your host can be of concern in some instances. IPs once belonging to sites
that have spammed the search engines may carry with them negative associations that can
hinder spidering and ranking. The engines aren’t especially picky about shared hosting versus
separate boxes, or about server platforms, but you should be cautious and find a host you trust.
Search engines have become paranoid about the use of certain domains, hosting problems, IP
addresses, and blocks of IPs. Experience tells them that many of these have strong correlations
with spam, and thus, removing them from the index can have great benefits for users. As a
site owner not engaging in these practices, it pays to investigate your web host prior to getting
Among the common questions in structuring a website (or restructuring one) are whether to
host content on a new domain, when to use subfolders, and when to employ microsites.
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These are the most basic elements of the Web—filenames, much like those that have been
found on computers for decades, which indicate unique documents. Search engines assign
query-independent scores—most famously, Google’s PageRank—to URLs and judge them
in their ranking algorithms. A typical URL might look something like http://
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