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Hiding Holiday Pages from People but Not Google

One of the most overlooked SEO pages of any website is the sitemap page. It might seem silly, but this is the single page from which a user can find any other page of your website.

This is especially important if your website has several layers of pages hidden deep from your home page and someone is quickly trying to get back to a page they were reading yesterday.

Other than functionality, sitemap pages are also important for Google. Most of the time Google will not bother to read more than 2 levels deeper into your site than the page they land on. If Google follows a link to your home page they will spider many of the 2nd tier pages that link from the home page, but they may not read the 3rd or 4th tier pages at all.

Think of your sitemap page as a cookie jar for Google. Every page of your site looks like a 2nd tier page once Googlebot finds your sitemap.

On the other hand, there is a different version of the sitemap page that Google also likes, it's the sitemap.xml page. This is a special version of your sitemap that people won't read, nor would we want to because it's all code, but Google loves it.

The sitemap.xml page can sometimes be created automatically by your website, or by a 3rd party program. Once created you need to log into your Google Webmaster Tools account and tell Google about it. After that, Google will read and revisit all those pages regularly.

Let's switch gears now and tell you the real Golden Nugget for today. As you plan out your holiday marketing, you should think about those emails and Google AdWords ads. Any links you put in your emails should point to real website URLs. Google AdWords will require real URLs before you create the ads.

In other words, you will need to plan and build all your real web pages this summer. However, you don't want your customers to see holiday pages until the time is right, so hide them from all your navigation screens.

After the holiday email planning is all done you will need to go back and recreate a new sitemap.xml file to include those hidden holiday pages. Google will discover the holiday pages on the sitemap and index them long before they are needed.

As the holiday season gets close consumers will start searching for phrases like "gifts for her" or "gifts for him." Google will happily return your pages in the SERP if you've used those phrases. You should activate those pages in your navigation some time in November when you decide to start marketing for the holidays.

What we've covered here are several closely related topics about content, hiding content from the public, showing content to Google, and planning holiday marketing. If you're planning your emails and AdWords now you also need to plan your website pages now.

If you are planning future pages now you don't want people to see them, but you do want Google to see them. One of the easiest ways to do that is through the use of the sitemap.xml page.

This is a proven strategy that's worked for jewelry stores for several years. Give it a try and let us know how it turned out in 6 months
AT: 06/13/2012 08:10:49 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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