For as long as I can remember, going to Google, Yahoo and Bing (or MSN, or Live), you could use the site operator to find out how many pages you have indexed.
Go to your engine, and type:
Check out the results. Interesting to see what they give you. But the problem is, this is sort of bunk data. See, search engines don’t crawl all the pages they know about. They also don’t index all the pages they crawl. Thirdly, they don’t publish all the pages in their index with the site operator. Google once said they prefer not to display this data because it’s not really valuable to the average site owner, and not necessarily worth the processing power.
Google’s response to webmasters (and SEOs) is to give you a better, more accurate count through Webmaster Tools. But it’s not as accessible as going to Google.com and typing “site:” into the engine.
SEOmoz put out an article about using Google Analytics to get a better view of not the pages Google knows about, but the pages Google serves. Now that is actionable!
It’s a must read article. Knowing what pages serve and what pages don’t help you identify the pages that need the most attention.
Don’t have Google Analytics on your site? Hopefully you have some kind of sophisticated web analytics package that is configured to retrieve this type of page-level data. The more data you have, the less guessing you’re doing within your SEO strategies.
Google is smart. They want to be smarter. Every search engine dreams about developing an algorithm that actually predicts a searchers intent, and if there is anyone out there who might solve the puzzle, it will probably be Google. I appreciate when Google can look at a search I make and understand when I misspelled something. But what happens when I’m trying to rank something that is intentionally spelled incorrectly?
Well, Google hasn’t quite planned for that. At least their algorithm doesn’t address it.
I’m working with two companies now that have altered, cute spellings for their brand. One ranks properly for the misspellings, the other doesn’t. The first has been in existence for a while with a lot of links, the second is equally old, but very small – it doesn’t have a large link portfolio. Both have the intentionally misspelled terms in their URL.
I’m not alone. Other webmasters frequent the Google help forums with the same issues. We do not want Google auto-correcting our spelling. Frankly, I don’t even want a “did you mean…” link in the result pages, but I understand the option. To be a company with an intentionally misspelled name or product, it’s pretty important you hammer home your intentions with your content and your links. You have to work harder to get Google to notice, just like you do your consumers. Led Zepplin and Def Leppard didn’t get spelled in the “officially” correct names until they were household names. Same concept applies.