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What Pages Does Google Know About vs. What Pages Does Google Care About

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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:

site:www.yoursite.com

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.

Quite arguable.

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.