We’ve all heard that link anchor text and your web page’s title tags are important ranking factors when it comes to organic search engine rankings. Google, in particular, analyzes the links to your web pages as well as the title tags of your page and figures out what your web page is about—and they compare that data to other web pages on the same topic. How would you like to pretend that you’re Google—and spider your own website to see what Google sees?

OptiSpider, a program by link expert Leslie Rohde, allows you to spider your own website just as if you were Google. When it’s done spidering, OptiSpider produces reports that allow you to see where your optimization weaknesses are so you can correct them. According to the OptiSpider site, (http://www.windrosesoftware.com/optispider), there are seven deadly ranking problems: The Spider Trap, Unreachable Pages, Missing Pages, Missing Page Titles, Incorrect Page Titles, Wrong Links, and Missing Links. After using OptiSpider, I was able to easily find and fix all of these problems on sites I’m currently optimizing.

The Spider Trap issue is a common one—so is the Unreachable Pages issue. If there are links to web pages that don’t exist then there’s a problem you need to correct. If there are missing links on your site (no links to certain pages or unreachable pages), the search engine spiders won’t be able to reach all the web pages on your website. By using a OptiSpider, you’ll know right away how many pages it was able to crawl—by comparing that with the actual number of pages on your website, you can identify if there’s a problem or not. Just knowing that there’s an issue is a big step—and analyzing the reports that OptiSpider produces help you determine where the problem is so you can fix it.

One report that OptiSpider produces is called the Pages View. The Pages View report includes a list of URLs and a list of Page Titles on your site, side by side. By scrolling through the report, you’re able to see exactly which pages have proper title tags and which pages don’t have title tags. You can easily see if there’s an issue with title tags. And by referring to the URL, you can see if there’s an issue with the wrong title tag on a web page.

Duplicate title tags are a major issue with a lot of dynamic and product-related ecommerce sites nowadays. Google doesn’t like to index duplicate content—and duplicate title tags can result in your web pages being removed from the index entirely. By viewing a report that shows all the title tags on your website you can easily determine if there’s an issue with duplicate title tags.

According to Leslie Rohde, “Keyword rich link text is critical to ranking in all of the modern search engines, but it is also one of the most tedious aspects of SEO to get just right, because the link text is distributed all over your site. What we need is to show the links pointing to a page with the page itself, so that we can make sure the link we use really is correct for that page. This is precisely how the search engines handle links! They put the link to a page, with the page it points to, creating what we call Link Reputation for that page… For every single page on your site, we record every single link, the link text used, and the page it points to. You can then sort and view these links to focus on the links that need work.”

Mr. Rohde explains that “links are the "conduits" that focus ranking power within your site (PageRank at Google, and forms of Link Popularity at MSN and Yahoo), so the comparative number of links used within your site determines which pages will be easiest to rank. A page with more internal links or links from higher PageRank pages, will be easier to get positioned at the top of the results. But counting every link on your site by hand is out of question.” That’s where OptiSpider comes in. “OptiSpider counts every single link on your site and shows which pages get how many so you can intelligently adjust how ranking power is used.”

OptiSpider is written totally in Java. That means that it will run efficiently on just about any operating system, including Microsoft Windows (2000 through XP), all releases of Linux, and Macintosh OS-X (10.2.3 or later). If you know me, then you probably know that I don’t often pay for search engine ranking tools. There are a lot of free tools out there that allow you to perform most search engine optimization tasks and analysis. However, OptiSpider and it’s cousin OptiLink are two tools that I’ve paid for and am glad to recommend.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
October 7, 2005

Bill Hartzer currently runs a Strategic Online Marketing Consultancy that includes services such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, and online reputation management.

Bill Hartzer formerly managed the Search Engine Marketing division of Vizion Interactive and MarketNet, leading interactive marketing and website design firms in the Dallas, Texas area.

Hartzer is a successful writer, blogger, search engine marketing, and social media marketing expert. During the past fifteen years, some of his many accomplishments include: Search Engine Marketing Manager, Vizion Interactive, Search Engine Marketing Manager, MarketNet, Search Engine Optimization Strategist, Intec Telecom Systems PLC, Webmaster, Intec Telecom Systems PLC, Founder, Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association, Owner/Author, Corporate Web Site Marketing, Administrator, Search Engine Forums, Frequent Speaker, Search Engine Strategies Conferences, Frequent Speaker, WebmasterWorld's PubCon Search Engine and Internet Marketing Conference.

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