Wanna See How Your Site Looks to the Search Engines?

The Lynx is Browsing

The Lynx is Browsing

Google, Yahoo, MSN and all the rest send out little bits of automated software that scours the web, visiting any and all links they find to discover new web pages and keep their repositories of websites current.  These agents – more commonly referred to as crawlers, spiders or robots – don’t see websites the way a human eye does.  They can’t “see” and interpret images and video.  So what do they see?

Back in the days when the Internet was still text-only there was one browser that was most commonly used, called Lynx.  This browser is actually still around.  And you can use it to visit your website and see a reasonable facsimile of what a search engine sees when it visits your website.  In order to do this you’ll have to find and download a copy of Lynx for your computer.  You can get it for Windows or Mac and other systems.  If you’re not in the mood to download and install something, there is also an online tool that attempts to accomplish the same thing at Seebot.org.

Once you’ve got Lynx installed and running, you’ll have to press the letter ‘g’ on your keyboard for the address bar to appear (at the bottom), then type in your website’s URL and hit ‘enter.’  You navigate pages in Lynx with the arrow keys on your keyboard (no mouse support).  You’re probably seeing either a bunch of text or hardly anything at all depending on how graphical your website is.

If you don’t see everything or there is unformatted text all clumped together, then you’ve got some work to do.  If your website isn’t appearing as neatly-formatted paragraphs of copy with proper headlines, as in a newspaper, with links in horizontal or vertical lists, it’s probably going to be difficult for a search engine to decipher what it’s looking at either.

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