What pages are indexed in Google, Yahoo or Bing?

Search EnginesAs a small business owner you are working hard on your website’s search engine friendliness every day.  But sometimes you get frustrated with the search engines honoring your hard work.  Actually you are always getting frustrated with them, but let’s stay focused.

When you are trying to determine why your pages are not showing up in the results, you may ask the question?

What pages are indexed by Google, Yahoo or Bing after all?

It would be helpful to know what inventory of your pages do they have to consider when showing search results, right?  There are two answers to the question: the quick and dirty and the more complex, but more reliable.

The Quick and Dirty Way to Find What Has Been Indexed

Regardless of the search engine, in the search box type “site:yourdomainname.com”.  Actually try it on every search engine.  You will get a different answer from each one.

Google Results Pre Click To End

Results Prior To Clicking To Last Page

With Google in the top right you will see their count of indexed pages.  Even then, though, there is trickery going on.  Click as efficiently as you can to the last page of these search results.

Google Results Post Click To End

Results After To Clicking To Last Page

Typically I’ve found the results end long before that claimed amount.  There are many possible reasons here:

Reasons Your Results May Vary Between Search Engines

  • If you’re running a blog, you may have your tag, category, archive pages and more indexed.  Some engines may store them, others may not.
  • The search engine may choose to not be forthcoming about what it really knows.  Yes this is the conspiracy response, but there is truth in not sharing too much detail about a site unless it’s confirmed you own it (see the next method).
  • You may getting personalized search results.

The More Complex, But More Reliable Method To Find What Has Been Indexed

This one will only work for Google and Yahoo.  For Google, using Google’s Webmaster Tools you can verify you own the site through a META tag or unique file on your web server.  This grants you rights to more privileged data seen by Google.  Yahoo and Bing have similar tools and insight.

I’ll cover Webmaster Tools in a later post.

How can I best use Google Voice?

If you are fortunate enough to have received an invite to join the Google Voice beta, then you may be wondering what you should do with it. Here are some suggestions and also some pitfalls.

Suggestions

  1. If you live from your cell phone, Google Voice can help you protect access to that number. By placing your Google phone number on your business cards, email signatures or even your personal website/blog you don’t have to worry about abuse. It will act a screening mechanism. After you have established a relationship with someone you can share you real cell phone number.
  2. If you load your contacts into your Google account you can make intelligent decision on how those callers make it through to you. You can create a friends or family group that doesn’t have to announce their name before being forwarded to your phone. Or you can route callers not in your list directly to voicemail thereby limiting only know callers to your cell phone.
  3. Using their widget you can have Google connect you and a website visitor without exposing your real phone number. This is great for customer support or relationships that need a level of discretion.

Pitfalls

  1. You have to choose your area code when you create your account. Carefully think this through. Is there a move in your future? Are there multiple area codes available to you such that you can represent a presence in a city you may want to? If you so, choose wisely. It’s a one-time decision.
  2. Since the Google phone number you’ve chosen merely routes to another phone number, it is hard to respond to callers without exposing your real number. It can be done through the Google Voice system, but it’s likely more work than it’s worth.
  3. You cannot have two Google Voice numbers routing to the same phone number currently. While it would be nice to have a Google Voice work number and a Google Voice family number (that’s routes to you and your spouse), it won’t work. If you try to you will kick off the first account in place of the second.

Google Voice will grow and become even more powerful than its current adolescent self. When that happens its reach will have a significant impact into other applications currently supported by Google and used by us all.

3 Lessons Learned From A Blogging Virgin

This week I helped a good friend lose his blogging virginity by setting him up on WordPress and the Thesis Theme for WordPress (affiliate link). If you’re interested take a look at some of the great work he’s done already.

As a designer, his content is primarily images so far. His goal for the blog’s look and feel is very visually appealing. It’s refreshing to see his approach. There are some key lessons to learn or at least be reminded of:

  • Blog as though the world is reading. Each post will live forever and eventually the world may get around to reading each of them. So even though you may have no readers, you will one day and those first posts will still be there. So they need to be written for today’s and tomorrow’s audiences. Your content does not go out with the recycling.
  • My friend knows nearly nothing about SEO and it shows. But that’s OK. Today he needs to create content and lots of it. For his readers and the search engines. Getting hung up on the details of SEO will slow down that natural creation process. Pick it up later and work it into the process. The search engines are looking for relevant content. Give it to them.
  • He’s found his voice. Many folks, myself included, start off not knowing our voice, our message and goal. While it’s better to start and change than to not start at all, it’s important to remember that you need to eventually find your voice and target it. Your readers will reward you for that by returning and spreading the word. You will become more than your person when you can create a new persona online that reaches people consistently.

Keep up the good work, Mike. And thanks for the lessons, accidental or not.

Digital Assets: Choosing Between Customer Satisfaction And Sales Integrity

Recently I purchased two digital products that did not meet my satisfaction. The way each company handled the situation brought to light how complicated business can be when your product has zero production costs.

Digital assets follow the rule: the first instance costs thousands/millions to create. The cost of creating the 2nd and subsequent instances is effectively zero. So how do you protect that asset if there is no way to return the product with certainty it was not used, duplicated or sold?

Experience #1


Last month I bought an audiobook from iTunes: Trust Agents. It’s a great book, highly recommended and well worth the read. I knew that before I bought it and I still believe it. However the audio version needs a lot of work. The two authors, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, actually narrated the audiobook. I’m not sure why some people want to do that. And if they do there should be some gatekeeper auditioning the authors as narrators. One of the two authors would consistently drop the volume of each sentence towards the end so that the last word was whispered. I listen to 3-4 audiobooks a month on my drive to/from work. It was in my Top 3 “A Pain To Listen To”. I stopped listening after chapter 3.

Having spent $20 for the audiobook I was a little upset. Years ago I would have chalked it up as a loss and just fumed. But not in today’s world. I decided an email to iTunes would only take 2 minutes of my life. So I explained my dissatisfaction and sent it away. After an immediate auto-reply I received an email from John within 4 hours.

Dear Mark,

I’m sorry to learn that this item did not meet the standard of quality you have come to expect from the iTunes Store.

I have reversed the charge for “Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust”. In three to five business days, a credit of $20.95 should be posted to a combination of the credit card that appears on the receipt for that purchase and your store credit.

I have also submitted this item for investigation. Apple takes the quality of the items offered on the iTunes Store seriously and will investigate the issue with this item, but I can’t say when or if the issue will be resolved. Please try again in a few weeks.

Thank you for your understanding. I hope that you continue to enjoy using the iTunes Store.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this issue, please feel free to reply to this email and I will do my best to assist you.

Sincerely,
John
iTunes Store Customer Support

Of course the credit was applied within 24 hours not 3-5 business days. This was handled so professionally I felt guilty for even asking for the refund.

Experience #2

Next up was a Joomla-WordPress integration tool from CorePHP. I had been pining away for this tool to use here on this site to integrate this blog (WordPress) into the look-and-feel of the website (Joomla). When I finally forked over the $80 I realized (or so I thought) that it was meant for another purpose. It would not work for me. I was bummed. Certain I could not use the tool I emailed their support team explaining what I really needed and asking for a refund given my misunderstanding. Yes, you would think that since it was not an impulse buy that I wouldn’t have made this mistake. And you’d be right, read on.

No auto-reply to my email was received, but I did receive a less than satisfying response from CorePHP within an hour:

Mark,

‘corePHP’ does not offer a cash refund or any exchanges once they have been downloaded. Unlike physical goods, electronically distributed software and software licenses can be easily duplicated. Accordingly, it is our policy that once we have distributed a release version to a customer, the sale is final and the software can not be returned for a refund or credit. Please refer to our Return policy as stated on our site: http://www.xxxxxx.com/subscription-plans.html#TOS

The WordPress is a product that sets inside of the Joomla, so the Joomla site is still in it’s normal state. The demo site shows how the site works. If you have any issues that you wish the developer to assist you with feel free to ask, and they can help you.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Kindest Regards,

********
‘corePHP’

Here’s my problem with this response.

  1. He didn’t address the true cause of my refund request. I actually explained what I thought it would do and that it didn’t meet my needs. Had he tried to solve that problem he would have shown me that the product actually does do what I need it to do. I had pulled the refund trigger too quickly. Of course I didn’t find this out until I was told I had no recourse for refunding my money. It was then I that I spent the time to look at the tool more closely and realize it does do what I need.
  2. Having a policy that penalizes the legitimate refund requests to protect the company against the scammers is wrong. You should not build your business model protecting yourself against all forms of attack. Just the most likely ones, which this is not. Any scammer who wants this product is going to find it for free or pay $80 and share it liberally. Their policy does not stop that, but it does penalize me unnecessarily.

I don’t have a problem with CorePHP. I’ve intentionally not linked to their site because I’m not interested in bashing them. I only use them as an example. They have a good product that I am still working on deploying. My issue was with the blanket “no” response that was obviously a canned response since the sale could have been saved and this post never have been written.

Results

In the end I have consumed both of the products that I asked for refund. The book was eventually bought in hardcover because I really did want to read it. And the tool is slowly being deployed on this website.

I don’t envy companies that sell a digital product. However I do believe that the online world again mirrors the offline world when it comes to customer satisfaction. You must do what’s right for the customer. My loyalty to iTunes only grew from my experience. CorePHP will need to do a little more to earn that level of loyalty.