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Does your website have spiders crawling through it?

By John L. Beath
A client recently hired me to optimize their website to get more search engine traffic. When I asked him if and how often search engine spiders crawled his site, he gave me a deer-in-headlights look. Search spiders are sometimes called search robots or bots, Web wanderers or Web crawlers.
My client had no idea where visitors to his website came from, how often they visited or where they went on his site. However, he was very proud of his visitor counter at the bottom of his page that showed a total of 7,547 visitors since 2006.
When asked if he thought that was a good number of visitors he happily said “yes.” In reality, those numbers are extremely low and reflect negatively to visitors coming to his site. Additionally, it shows all of his competitors exactly how few people visit his site – a number that should remain confidential, no matter the number, except to paid advertisers on the site, if any exist.
First, I removed the visitor counter from my client’s site. Next, I optimized his meta tag site title and description to accurately reflect the content of his site. Then I edited the text on his site so that it was more descriptive and blended better with his site title and description. I also renamed his link pages to be more descriptive and search engine friendly. For example, “Photos” is far too generic and will never attract search traffic. Since his site is from a specific area, I named the link “Valdez Alaska Fishing Photos.” This link takes more space, but it accurately describes the origin of the images and helps search engines determine relevancy for search results.
Now the fun part: adding code that enabled the site owner or administrator to see who and where traffic is coming from on the Internet. Lots of companies provide free stat counters. One of the best is www.statcounter.com. It provides a user-friendly interface and comprehensive statistics.
Stat Counter is an invisible Web tracker that lets the user customize and configure the counter specifically for their website. Once the code has been added to the site, it will show real time Web statistics, including where the visitor came from, what search terms were used to find the site, and how long visitors spend visitng on the site. The stat counter also shows when search spiders crawl the site and the search engine or directory from which the spiders originated.
“I love StatCounter.com because it offers a huge range of features to help me determine search engine relevancy for my site and contents,” explained Mary Alice Donahue, owner of glutenfreetravelmagazine.com and LAgrapevine.com. “My stats from StatCounter.com give me a complete understanding of quality and quantity of visits to my Web properties, for free.”
This information is invaluable for learning how to analyze your site and fully optimize it to receive more relevant traffic. Donahue uses StatCounter’s popular page feature to determine quality of content and follow trends. She also says the recent visitor mapping tool helps her sell advertising. When selling ads on her site, she uses this tool to show her clients where traffic is concentrated and the relevancy and benefit of advertising on a particular page.
For more information about this valuable program, visit www.statcounter.com. To see how a search engine spider works, try this simulator: http://www.webconfs.com/search-engine-spider-simulator.php. ◊
John L. Beath is OWAA president and owner of Pacific Lure Communications. He is a writer/photographer and owner/editor of several websites and online stores. He is also an Internet marketing consultant for several businesses. Contact him at jbeath@gmail.com.
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