Quality Control of Content on the Internet
For reasons that defy rational explanation, few of my clients ever seem to heed my warnings about the importance of a scheduled content modification and release process, and then they call upon me to clean up the mess when one of their websites becomes invisible to Google. When this happens, I walk them through a laundry list of possible snafus and direct their attention to the fact that all of these snafus can be easily avoided by implementing a scheduled content modification and release process. Eventually, I am able to impress upon them that any changes that they make to their website should be properly vetted, at which point I encounter a long list of reasons why quality control is too much trouble.
When it comes to a failure to implement quality control procedures, I am probably somewhat guilty of telling my clients to "do as I say, not as I do" when it comes to most of my own websites. In this regard, I am not unlike the master mechanic who does not maintain his own car properly because most of my websites are legacy websites and/or experiments in content indexing that don't generate much income for me.
The situation is quite different when I launch a new static website for a client. To wit, I make a point of acquiring both a dot-com domain and a dot-net domain, then I password protect the dot-net domain so that content which is under development is invisible to the probing eyes of search engine spiders. I then make sure that all appropriate Apache directives are put into place so that ambiguous URLs are eliminated. To wit, < http://somesite.com >, < http://somesite.com/ >, < http://somesite.com/index.html >, < http://www.somesite.com >, and < http://somesite.com/index.html > all redirect to < http://www.somesite.com/ >. Beyond that, I make sure that a customized 404 page is displayed for non-existent URLs and non-existent third-level subdomains such as < http://www.somesite.com/non-existent-url.html > and < http://non-existent-subdomain.somesite.com/ >.
At this point, SOMESITE.COM is the proverbial blank slate, and I set up an Excel spreadsheet to track content release and modification for all the URLs to be published on SOMESITE.COM. I also use this spreadsheet to track the indexing of URLs from SOMESITE.COM on Google, Yahoo!, and MSN, including PageRank and inbound links for each URL. To that end, a content modification and release process for a static website should result in a slow and steady growth of content where (1) substantial changes to the content of a particular URL should take place at most once every three months; (2) inbound links should increase only as fast as they can be indexed by Google; and (3) the release of new URLs should not constitute more than a slow and steady 20% increase of the overall site content over a three month period.