I have a number of items marked in my feed reader to write a post upon. They all relate to Google and good site practice for search engine visibility.
In the post The number of pages Googlebot crawls, the importance of a common, standard URL structure is noted. Googlebot crawls URL’s and therefore sees http://www.example.com/ and http://www.example.com/index.html as two different URL’s even though they may display the same content. While there are methods to redirect visitors or tell Google which page is preferred, it is easier to adopt a standard URL structure and consistently use it. By having only one URL to access any page or content, it is much more likely that sites linking to your content will use the correct URL, therefore not splitting your incoming links between two or more different URL’s. Keep this in mind when informing people to link to your site, and if you do see incoming links using and incorrect URL, politely ask the source to update their link.
In an older post on the Google Webmaster Central blog, a quick tutorial is provided on understanding keywords (or common words) identified on Google’s webmaster tools page for your site. If you have a website and have not signed up for a Google Webmaster tools account, I encourage you to do so. This free service provides valuable information to how Google sees your site, allowing you to correct issues and improve your site standing.
One option for even more statistical information about your visitors can come from Google Analytics, which was recently updated with improved interface and new features. While free, Google Analytics requires your visitors’ data be sent and stored at Google. If this is a problem for you, other alternatives, such as Mint, can be customized to provide whatever statistics you like, is hosted on your own server and is available for a minimal cost.
Another development in search engine technology that will affect website owners soon is universal search. Google talked a little about universal search in this post from May and it was deeply analysed in this post on Search Engine Land. The convergence of media types available to searchers with one search query will affect the return rankings for results and increase the competitiveness for the ever sought higher rankings. Universal search should not change how websites optimize themselves for search engines, however. I still believe that quality, relevant content is they cornerstone for your search foundation followed by appropriate inbound links.