So this is kind of a wacky thing–I’m finding myself able to use a couple of things learned from projects at work in the managing of my own sites. Those of you out there who read me, if you’re running your own sites as well, especially if you’re a fellow indie writer, you might want to consider these for your sites.
One: Google and other search engine spiders care if you have a sitemap.xml file. This is not something that users would normally hit–it’s a file that sits there entirely for the benefit of search engines, so that they can better index your site. I have chosen to address this by installing a WordPress plugin that dynamically generates one of these.
If you’re a fellow WordPress user, you might want to investigate this too. And if you’re blogging on a different platform, such as Blogger, and you have useful data on how to set up such a thing, drop me a comment!
Two: Google also cares now if your site is mobile-friendly, i.e., if you have something better than just the desktop view of your site when people come and visit you on their mobile devices. I am choosing to address this on annathepiper.org, which is still up even though I’m not actively posting to it, by installing the new Twenty Fifteen WordPress theme, which is specifically set up to render well on mobile devices as well as on desktop computers.
I am also currently shopping around for options for professionally designed themes to deploy on angelahighland.com. And I recommend anybody running their own site do the same–especially fellow writers. I’m eyeing Solo Pine right now, as I like their design esthetic, and bonus that they’re also headquartered in Seattle.
If you’ve got the technical and design chops to roll your own theme, go for it. But if you don’t, consider shopping around for a modern, mobile-friendly theme for your site. Think about what you like design-wise, and what features you want in a theme as well.
Other things I’m doing right now of note: as mentioned in a previous post, I’m doing some significant housekeeping of old content. I’m going through old posts on angelahighland.com and annathepiper.org, deleting anything on annathepiper.org that I’ve already copied over onto angelahighland.com, and fixing broken content as well. This is to reduce duplication of content, which will hopefully make angelahighland.com tastier to the search engine spiders as they crawl around the web.
Anybody have other tips to share as to how to spruce up your site for the spiders?