When was the last time you looked at your Google results? Was it last Friday or this weekend? Good. Never? Not so good.
Last Friday we told you how to check your rankings. While it is important to check the rankings, it is more important to take action. I can think of three items that you should want to fix:
- Old or outdated pages and files.
- Links that have been removed from menus or navigation, but are still being indexed by robots.
- Pages that are not meant for the public, but are showing up in search results.
While these are all very different problems, the fixes are not necessarily unique to each other. The way to make changes depends on your website and the technology on which it is based. However, there are universal methods of managing unwanted results.There are several that you can implement to ensure that you control what is indexed on your site.
The best tool to manage this easily is Google Webmaster Tools. This free service from the big search giant will give you insight into why your results are appearing as they are, as well as give you tools to make changes and even exclude pages from results. So if you have, for instance, a login page that shouldn’t be included when anyone searches your store, Webmaster Tools lets you keep that URL from appearing in results. (Look under both Crawl > Blocked URLs and Google Index > remove URLs). Additionally, Webmaster Tools gives you insight into keywords associated with your website, pages indexed by Google, and a multitude of other helpful information.
Once you get your free account, you’ll need to verify ownership of the domain. (There are several ways to do that, all of which are outlined step-by-step when you log in.) From there, Webmaster Tools outlines several suggestions on what to do with the information they’re gathering. The first tutorials I recommend are:
Please note, this is not a five-minute fix. This tool and the knowledge it brings, equips you to make decisions about the future of you website. Be sure to set quarterly calendar reminders to check Google’s results and take action on them.