Googlifying weirdness

After some tweaking of site permalink and URL settings, posting sitemaps to Google, and other such SEO tinkerings, I have managed to get my posts into Google’s search engine. Before, I had no luck finding my posts, no matter how specific I made the search terms.

Strangely (or maybe not), my stats plugin reported almost simultaneously a dramatic drop in daily unique hits, from the 180s to 2. Pretty depressing, until I realized those multiple hits were probably from the googlebot trying to index the site, failing, then trying again. [UPDATE (82/06): The stats plugin was not compatible with the upgraded version of WordPress. I caught on when I saw it had clocked absolutely zero hits right after one of my posts appeared in the latest Tangled Bank. My other site counters registered dozens of visits, so I realized the WP upgrade must have broken the stats plugin. There was an update available, so the plugin (ShortStat) works now.]

So, here is what I have learned. Plain text permalinks are best. Trailing slashes on site URLs are important, at least to the w3.org validator service computers. Getting a sitemap with those permalinks into Google’s hands is a good thing. Tweaking your .htaccess file to allow bots to index your site is necessary, especially if your site dwells in a subdirectory, as mine does, of a different domain. (www.wheatdogg.com is forwarded to the “real” location.) Clearing up your .htaccess file also seems to help people find the site, especially if it’s tucked in an obscure corner of your main domain. Adding tags helps you get onto Technorati’s radar screens, and thus Google’s. Putting Google Analytics code on your site helps give you a real sense of your traffic, and maybe it convinces Google’s computers to pay attention to you.

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