November 25, 2011
I see it everyday. Someone wants to start a new blog, e-commerce site, or other site, including non-profits. The excitement is mounting, you start to see pieces of the puzzle come together, and the next thing you know, you’ve made the ever-important connection string from your database to your file manager – your site is now live. Did you forget anything along the way?
Depending on the Content Management Solution (CMS) you have chosen, upon the initial launch of your site, there are several “add-ons” you’ll want to install right away. I’ll use the ever-popular WordPress blogging platform for this example. Chances are, you don’t want to run your site these days without a single plug-in. Your initial choices should be related to site security, SEO (I am biased!), and site mapping. Other social items can be added or changed along the way according to your theme lay-out. But what is even far more important than this? Blocking search engines.
Unless you were able to completely design and develop your new site on a developer’s server that is not crawled by search engine bots, surely your site is not prepared. Important basics like the “About” page, “Contact”, and other critical information have not been written, or if they have, not yet installed. Before I use a different CMS, I will stick to WordPress for the conclusion of this example. The first thing I ALWAYS do right away is go to “Settings” and “Block this site from search engines”. This allows you to finish your basics or even the entire site structure before letting it go live. Now onto perhaps a little trickier CMS, Joomla.
This Content Management Solution is ideal for those that want a nicely designed, and feature-packed e-commerce solution. However, Joomla needs a bit more “commanding” from the developer. Anyone that knows me or has ever read articles written on SEO basics in the past by me, know that my personal rule when initially checking a website of ANY kind, is simply viewing the page source. In doing so, you see what the search engines bots do. That simple. I immediately go to the meta title, description, and keywords. My most recent experience actually got a well-deserved laugh.
Our company is located in a nice office park with many people with companies like us, small businesses with few employees. We have become “business friends”, and often joke with each other in passing. I knew that my neighbor was in the process of building another website to compliment one that has been around for some time. Each day, I would poke my head in the door and ask him how it was going. “Looks great”, he said, “Take a look”.
I have gotten so far into SEO that – while the site appearance is important – that is not my initial concern. (I leave this to those that are Photo Shop experts). I immediately ask my neighbor to right-click and select “view page source”. I started laughing. About two weeks previous to this encounter, I told my neighbor, “You are still developing your site, you are adding new products every day, the “About” tab is a “dead link”, “You need to hard-code into each page the “noindex, nofollow” attribute until you are ready. As of now, according to Google, you are “Joomla, a free open-source content management solution…” Oh, and you also sell antennas!”.
I had told him that with each passing day, his site is steadily “bleeding”. It would have taken him (or me) literally ten or fifteen minutes to code the “noindex, nofollow” attribute into each page until his site was ready for its big debut…and now we have to stop the bleeding.
He has since hired me to perform all of the SEO work on his site. It is not quite ready for launch, but I have done my due diligence as his newly hired SEO agent. I spent fifteen minutes adding the “noindex, nofollow” attribute to all pages until his site is ready.
Don’t let search engines crawl your site until it is ready!
Bryan P. Hollis is the owner and founder of Mid Carolina Freelance, LLC – A Complete Online Marketing and SEO Firm located in South Carolina. He has been in the SEO industry for over 5 years. The company owns several diverse sites, including their popular social media and bookmarking site, Blog Interact.