More and more, our clients are telling us about the great deal their hosting company has (or their CMS company, or an outside vendor) on search engine optimization (SEO). Apparently, you can now use internal search servers to create pages that ‘regular’ search engines love to position in their natural results.
Could this be the answer that’s eluded all of us for years now? Has the goose finally laid her golden egg and we can now bask in the warm glow of triumph? Ooo-da-lally, happy days are here at last!
But wait. If you are very, very quiet, you can hear all the warm air leaking from this grand master plan.
Internal search servers exist to facilitate search on a specific domain, within just that file structure. When built correctly, they can be a great tool for customer service. Basic good practice would suggest all sites have some type of internal search function, if only to help customers find a product (and hopefully buy a product) when all other navigation techniques have failed.
What’s curious though, is when did we make this leap of faith that an internal search results page was also exactly what search engines on the outside are looking for? Seems like these pages are either a list of products with a “flat” URL, or a list of products with a short and tidy little description, you know, because content is king.
These pages of “great spider food” either sit on the domain itself, thus creating duplicate content under new, unique URL’s, or they might even reside on the domain of the internal search provider, with links to their domain, as well as links to some of your products. That’s not a big deal though, right? Few searchers get confused by a lot of domain hopping, and if ultimately you help get your search vendors site positioned a little higher, maybe even on your key terms, that’s ok right?
It’s been said over an over, and maybe one day folks will even start to believe it, but there is no shortcut to positioning a site with search engines for the long haul. It takes a commitment to long term thinking, careful brand positioning, sound design and navigation, and careful message creation to help search engine algorithms understand exactly what demand your product or service meets.