Force Google to spider your site

If you have a static website, one with content that doesn’t change often and that has no RSS newsfeed (so not a blog), you’ve probably noticed (if you care about these things) that Google doesn’t bother to visit, or spider, your static that often.

After an initial flurry of activity when you first created the site, the search engine will have recognized that nothing changed between consecutive visits and will have settled itself down to visiting just once a week, month, every few months, or whatever…what happens next is that Google may consider your static site to be unimportant to its users and lower your ranking in the in its search engine results pages (SERPs).

With the handful of static sites I manage, I’ve not actually seen this de-ranking effect, but it may happen so a new feature in Google’s online RSS Reader tool could be of interest. Google has added the capability to “create” a virtual feed for any static site and add it to the site updates you follow and let you know of any changes should they ever happen on the site.

Logically, that means that even though a site may be static, by adding it to your reader, you are telling Google to spider your site on a regular if not frequent basis nevertheless. After all, if it were not doing so it would not be able to give you an RSS alert to let you know that the site had been changed.

Whether this trick actually has any benefits for sites that have not suffered de-ranking despite being static remains to be seen. But, it’s worth a try. It would also give you a useful way of keeping an eye on other people’s backburner sites you don’t visit often. You could even check whether any of the sites you run have been changed by hackers. That said, more acute “zero-day” observation of those sites would make more sense if they are at all important to you despite being static.

Thanks to the omnipresent and seemingly omniscient Ann Smarty for the tip off to this new feature. Brian Shih made the official announcement of this feature on 25th January in the Google Reader Blog.

Author: David Bradley

Freelance science journalist, author of Deceived Wisdom. Photographer and musician.