Now where did that come from?

Try this trick…

Find our your site’s top ten internal search terms. Ask Omniture or Google Analytics, they’ll know.

Now type them into your site search. Better yet, type them into Google, using the site:your URL

Look at the results.

Find anything you don’t like?  That old product page you thought you’d ‘retired’?  That PDF application form you’d replaced with an HTML one? Maybe even some test content you didn’t realise had been published.

It’s very interesting to see your site the way Google sees it. This is the way most of your customers see it. You can learn a lot too.

Running internal site searches like this every few months is a good way to clean house.

Is there an unexpected page appearing at the top of the search results page? Look at all the links you have pointing to that page. What words are they using?

Many years ago, if you Googled click here you’d get the download page for Adobe Acrobat reader. An interesting use of link text but probably not what Adobe would’ve chosen as their top keywords.

Try doing the same in your ‘site:www[your]’ search. Type in terms like; click here or find out more. Try read more or simply more.

I bet you get a lot of results.

These are all the pages where your content writers took a time-out from their usual brilliance and creativity and defaulted to the four most popular, least customer-centric, link names on the web. Weeding these out of your site could improve your user experience significantly.

It doesn’t stop there. Google can let you know what other under-garments your site is showing.

Do your PDFs show really ‘codey’ URLs? Most content management systems give PDFs and other downloads URLs with terms like ‘blob’ and ‘blobheader’ in them. Total machine talk.

Usually you’d mask these with nice ‘usable’ link text. You can’t mask URLs in search results.

It might be time to talk to your server guys or your devs about a download repository with a human-friendly URL.

My favourite Google ‘site:’ search was when I found a rather heated memo from the project manager who’d built the site to the project owner, stating what was wrong with the site and recommending it not be put live. Now how that got there I’ll never know, but I can tell you it got ‘nofollow’ed and ‘noindex’ed in RECORD time.

The internet is a funny place. It has a long memory and nowhere to hide.

It doesn’t hurt to play customer now and then and look at your site with Google’s eyes.

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