The search engine Google is fairly adept at indexing most travel blogs whether they are search-engine optimized (SEO) or not. You can however help the Google bot along so that it discovers new content you post quickly, which is especially important when publishing articles that are time-sensitive.
Having A Clear Code Road
Much of Google’s indexing is based on link-jumping, that is to say that the Google bot follows the path of links on your site to new content. The higher the Pagerank of a given site, the more value Google places on following links from it. If your new posts appear on your homepage, which likely will have some Pagerank after a few months, that’s a vote of confidence.
- Having A Ranked Blog Or Category Page Can Help – Now, let’s say your new posts pop up on a ranked “blog” page as well, for example, http://yoursite.com/blog, then you’ve got two votes which can result in speedier indexing.
The theme you’re running is also very important to how quickly your site is indexed. Google favors Blogspot users of course, but if you’re self-hosted on WordPress, look for themes that were designed with SEO in mind (e.g. Thesis). Your travel blog may look pretty to humans, but it’s the code that Google cares about.
- Increase Your Interlinks – Make sure you’re linking back to relevant content on your blog pages and posts. It makes your site more readable by both search engines and humans as well.
- Avoid Ugly URLs – Another instance where what looks good to Google is also appealing to people. (e.g. http://travelblogadvice.com/guest-post/gaining-links-to-your-blog/ vs. http://travelblogadvice.com/?p=1000)
Links are the road map to your travel blog and what Google uses to navigate your site. Sometimes though you might want to give Google a nudge, especially if it seems to be particularly neglecting your newer posts.
- Google XML Sitemaps – One of 13 recommended WordPress plugins, it, and those like it can create easily search-engine digestible sitemaps and automatically submit them to Google. Sitemaps can also be manually generated and submitted using this plugin, which can help speed up the indexing process and notify Google of a new post.
Finally, to find out if Google has already indexed a particular page on your site, just Google your site in this format: “site:yoursite.com” or “site:yoursite.com/blog”.
Have Links Ready
Although increasing Pagerank, site age, and good code will help improve how fast your travel blog is indexed over time, you can give particular help to time-sensitive posts by pre-linking to them. Incoming external links (i.e. links from other websites) to a particular post cue Google to how quickly it should index a given post.
- Ask Blogging Buddies – Get in touch with other travel bloggers you have a rapport with and see if they might be interested in linking to that particular post of yours. Don’t forget to return the favor!
- Link Out – When your posts seem to be a bit stale or slow in Google’s eyes, you might need to link out to external sites more. Only linking inward can ding your reputation with the giant search engine.
- Watch The Keywords – Be sure that you’re not stuffing your posts (or image alt tags) with an over-abundant amount of keywords.
- Increase Crawl Rate – Google’s Webmaster Tools is extremely versatile and gives you a number of Google-centric options, including increasing the frequency at which your site is crawled.
Using the Google Webmaster Tools, you can also create a “www” preference for your links. When possible, it’s good practice to be consistent when interlinking and to let Google know if you’re a with-www linker (e.g. http://www.yoursite.com) or not (e.g. http://yoursite.com).
No Guarantee, Only Guidance
Unfortunately, you can only build the path for Google but not take them down the road. Crawl time and indexing are based primarily on automated algorithms and while it helps to provide a good map, ultimately it’s up to Google as to when they’ll decide to take a look. Try posting articles that are time-sensitive (around holidays for example) a few hours earlier than you might otherwise, stay within Google’s guidelines, and occasionally check your site for crawl errors to get under the clock.
[photos by: delphaber (ticking clock), gsbrown99 (steel links), rustybrick (Google Lego logo)]
Thanks Anil. One of the things I’ve challenged myself to do lately is always have at least one interlink in my posts and up to three. It can be a bit tough but usually I find a way to make it work.
That’s a good way to also increase your pageviews per visit 🙂
Thank you for this post, Anil. I agree with a lot of your advice here. I’ve had to resort to changing the crawl rate once when I had a couple of instances where Google didn’t index my latest post for over a week. Not sure it fixed the problem but it got indexed in the long run. I guess there are times when you do everything right but Google skips it.
I agree about blogpost being favoured over your own domain when starting a new blog. the latter needs more time and hard work. Everyone says Thesis is good for SEO and although it’s customisable, it still looks like Thesis! I prefer to write for people than bots 🙂
Blogspot blogs almost always have higher Pagerank than self-hosted sites of similar scope. I agree with you on Thesis, it’s tough to make it look original. The SEO boost is nice though, pages on my Thesis sites (like this one) get indexed much more quickly than on foXnoMad.
This is all good advice. Trying my best to put it into practice, but it’s not easy. My blog is more of a satirical/sarcastic nature, so I at least have the advantage of being somewhat unique.
What’s the one part you struggle with most?
All sound advice for getting your posts indexed fast. I run many blogs, and what I would add to this post is post on a regular basis, once google takes notice of your site and starts crawling it, it kind of learns your rhythm of posting.
To get the ball rolling, tweet your posts, and get two of your friends to retweet them. I have found with a brand new blog, never crawled before by google, just getting 3 retweets from some active twitter accounts with a decent amount of followers resulted in a new post being indexed within minutes.
Other suggestions are submit your rss feeds to sites that will syndicate your content (eg travel blog directories etc), as these get crawled many times a day, so the link back to your latest post will be picked up quickly.
Thanks for the great additional advice John!
Thanks for good advices. Some of them I didn’t know about, so it is really usefull!