Google Sitemaps - An Introduction

Google Sitemaps are "XML" files that contain a list of all the web pages on your site, provide an indication of how often they are updated and the importance of each. Once created you upload them to your website - to the "root directory". By root directory it means that the sitemap is available from e.g. www.yoursite.org/sitemap.xml and NOT from a subfolder such as www.yoursite.org/foldername/sitemap.xml

If you don't already use Google Webmaster sign up for it, add and verify your site and register the sitemap with Google. This will ensure that as many pages as possible get indexed.

For smaller sites under 500 pages there a range of free tools that will generate a sitemap for you  (e.g.  http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ ).

Sitemaps need to be updated as content on your site changes - for example as you add or remove pages (it doesn't matter if you just update content within pages). To update your sitemap simply generate another and upload it to your site to replace the old one. You don't need to tell Google Webmaster about this.

For larger or more dynamic sites such as those run by content management systems your sitemap should ideally be updated automatically whenever content on your site changes.  Many open source CMS solutions - e.g. Wordpress or Joomla - have plug ins that you can upload that will do this for you.

Hacked Site Notifications in Search Results

Google has recently added a new notification in its search results to let people know if a site has been hacked.

If a site has been hacked, often for spamming purposes, the message "This site may have been compromised" will appear under the page title in search results.

Webmaster will need to address such alerts promptly or there is likely to be an impact on search traffic.  Once resolved the message should automatically go away but it is also possible to request a review of your site to accelerate removal of the notice.

Reducing High Bounce Rates - Identifying Problem Areas

If you are concerned about your site's bounce rate you first need to identify where the problem is arising.  There are a number of factors that could be at fault - most importantly these are likely to be:

  • a poorly designed online marketing programme driving low quality traffic to your site
  • a marketing programme sending people to poorly designed or inappropriate landing pages
  • issues with your site design, layout, content or the structure of your site ("information architecture")

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Google Analytics - How To Set Goals

Setting and being able to measure online goals for your website visitors is an essential component of both website and conversion optimisation.

For example, if you have a form on your website tracking the traffic sources that lead to people making an enquiry can be extremely helpful to both your marketing and online conversion strategy.

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What Is An Average Bounce Rate?

There is a lot of argument over what an acceptable bounce rate is - some people suggest that if you have a bounce rate over 40% you have problems whilst others are either more relaxed or even suggest that even a bounce rate of 20% is too high.

Average bounce rate for most sites typically fall in 40% - 55% range.  If your site bounce rate is below 40% you are doing well and if it's above 60% then you definitely need to find out why.

Bounce rates do however differ across sectors, from business to business and are also affected by the size of your site and a range of other factors.  Most webmasters will want to have as low a bounce rate as possible but there will be certain occasions where a web page answers all of a visitors questions where bounces are unavoidable - think for example about a Wikipedia style page that provides a complete overview on a particular topic.

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