A client recently asked a question that should be relevant to other site owners or managers.
The client wanted to know how she could locate instances of specific terms across her entire site, so she could confirm that the terms were properly spelled and formatted. In this case, the terms were scientific names for mushrooms.
Ideally, you’d do this before the text was put on your site, using normal spell-checkers and search-and-replace tools. But websites don’t always have those tools built in for non-programmers, especially if they use a content management system and a database.
But then again, despite your best efforts, text tends to accumulate errors over time, regardless of how careful you are. Multiple people may touch the website. Some elements, such as images and photo galleries, include manually entered text fields. Text fields like ALT text, captions, and SEO data appear across websites of all types.
So how best to best optimize consistency is a very good question. Here are a couple of methods to help managers of sites without an in-house programmer take on such tasks:
Method 1: Use Google to Search Your Site
This method works well, assuming your site has been indexed recently by Google, and your site is modestly sized. If not, we’ll talk about those situations later in this post.
To search your site for specific words, enter this in a Google search box:
site:yourwebdomain.com "specific word or phrase you're looking for"
That is: tell Google to search your website (site:); enter your website’s domain name without any spaces in front of it (you can exclude the www if you use it, or include it if you use subdomains like blog.yourwebdomain.com, store.yourwebdomain.com, etc. and you want to exclude those sections); insert a space; then, in quotes, list the exact element you want to find.
Here are the results for a search across my company’s web domain, for the term “algorithm.”
Method 2: Use a Search Tool in Your CMS’s Admin
Many of the more popular web Content Management Systems (CMSs) have tools, built-in or optional, that help you search your site. WordPress, for example, within the popular Jetpack collection of tools, includes a system called Omnisearch.
Omnisearch will also display a list of results searching only within your website. A limitation of this tool is that it may not catch all of your site content, especially if the content is managed by third-party plugins. Common third-party examples include photo galleries and other media management tools.
In summary, these are two quick ways a non-programmer can locate and find specific text content on your website. Google is a fast and easy way to locate items within your site, and it may also help you find images. Searching your site on Google is also a great way to review your site for problems, for duplicate content, and to make sure your site appears the way it should in search results.
Internal tools, such as those inside WordPress, are also helpful, but be aware they may miss some types of content.
Lastly, you can call on professional help to maintain your website. Service providers, like AUMW, employ a variety of data base and file search techniques not easily accomplished by non-technical users. Hopefully, you’ll find these tips useful on your website!