The Internet is the most comprehensive source of information in human history. But like
any library of knowledge, it must be cataloged to be used effectively.
Search engines are used to find sites and catalog them.
According to the Georgia Institute of Technology, 88% of Internet users find new sites
through search engine listings. Your site will be more effective
if you can get a listing near the top of your category.
Some search engines like Yahoo! employ people to check each site registered with them,
but these are in the minority. Most search engines use specialized software called spiders to do this.
Spiders crawl through millions of sites every month, analyzing meta tags and text content. The information
that is retrieved is used to determine how your site will be categorized and ranked.
Because the spider's functions are so critical, anything relating to the way
they operate is a closely guarded secret. It is in your best interest to understand as much as you can about them
and to use that information to your advantage when creating your web
pages. It is important to keep in mind how your site is seen from a spider's point of view.
Meta Tags provide a structured method that are used by spiders to analyze text
within web pages. There are three basic type of meta tags that are commonly used:
The Title appears in the title bar (the very top line in your web browser). Of
the three meta tags, the title tag is the only text that actually
appears when your pages are viewed. Most people never read
the title line, but it is extremely important to the search engines
for ranking for several reasons...
- One of the first things that a search engine robot finds
- Most search engines put a high value on matching words in the title when it comes to ranking
- Most search engines will use the title when listing your site.
Tips on creating useful Titles...
- Don't use commas. Use dashes, if needed, in place of commas. Some search engines thinking
you are trying to spam the search engine when commas are used
- Do not repeat the same word more than once
- Limit the range to 80 characters
- Don't use non-descriptive title such as "Acme
Products Home Page". It does not tell the viewers what
your site is about and will not help make people click on your link.
Put as many of your keywords as possible in the title. Try to use the words you think a user would enter in a search engine to find your type of business.
Example: car waxes polishes wheel cleaners fine care products - Acme Products
- The closer your keywords are to the beginning of the title text may help boost your position ranking.
- The percentage of the entire title occupied by the keyword may play a role in boosting your position
- Avoid using all uppercase words. It makes it difficult to read.
- Make sure you vary the title for each page. Let's say your company
name is Acme Products and you specialize in chain saws, winches, and generators. On your home page, you might use something like...
- Chain Saws Winches Generators Acme Products
- On another page, you might use Generators Chain Saws Acme Products
The Description Meta Tag is often used by search engines to describe your page in
their listings. Usually search engines display the Title and Description
tags. If there is no Description, some search engines will try to
guess what the page is about by reading text on the page. This
will often lead to garbage in the listing and can motivate web surfers
to skip your site. Note: The Description Meta Tag is not seen when your actual pages are displayed.
Tips on creating Descriptions...
- The description should be a brief summary explaining what a viewer will
find on your site or page and why they should visit it.
- Do not repeat the same word more than 3 times
- Don't use more than two commas.
Use dashes, if needed, in place of commas. Some search engines
thinking you are trying to spam the search engine when commas are used
- Include 3 to 4 of your most important keywords, especially those used in the Title tag.
- Limit to 250 characters
Keywords are hidden text within your web pages that are used by some search engines
to help determine the ranking of your site. Keywords don't always
mean just a single word such as "car", "computer", or "software".
Some keywords might be single words, and some may be 2 to 3 word phrases.
In reading other articles on the topic of keywords, some state
to only use single words and others to have more phrases than
single words. Our current belief is to only use single words as
most users of search engines don't use the advanced features to flag key phrases that they are looking for.
Keywords no longer have the importance they once had in ranking your web
site. Because so many web sites have abused the way they use keywords,
many search engines have discontinued using or considering keyword values for ranking purposes.
Tips on creating Keywords...
- Figure out all the possible key words that are related to your site.
These keywords could be words and phrases that the average
person would type into a search engine to find you. Look at it
from the user's perspective. What search words or phrases make
sense? When you're finished, you should have at least 50 keywords on your list.
- Pick 12 of the most relevant keywords from the list. You can track
more than 12 but this is all that is usually required for most sites.
- Test each keyword in a major search engine. Type in your keywords
and see if sites that sell similar products are returned. If you
see your competition show up in the results, then you are on the right track.
- Avoid common words.
Most people do not query search engines on single words such
as "Books", or "Fish". Users are more likely to search for something
more specific like Cook Books,Monk Fish
- If possible, use a geographic location. If you're a dentist in Houston,
you would be interested in only attracting visitors from the Houston
area. Houston traffic would also be more likely to visit you,
rather than a dentist in another state. Example: Dentists,Dentist,TX,Houston
- Keywords should be closely related to the main subject of the page.
If your page subject is gourmet foods and culinary arts: Vietnamese
- If you are sure of common misspellings, be sure to include them. Getting
a number-one listing on a misspelled word can be very easy and rewarding in terms of traffic.
- Use both singular and plural words. Example: monitor,monitors
- Spiders try to find out how relevant your keywords are to the page.
If your page is about recreational fishing, and you use the words
fly-fishing, angling, and deep-sea fishing multiple times in your
site, the spider will see your site as being more relevant to
those particular words than words which only appear once.
- If a keyword is in the Title, or in the first six lines of the page body, some
search engine spiders consider that to be very significant.
- If a keyword appears 3 times in a page with one thousand words, that keyword
has a lower weight then if it was on a page with 30 words. Pages
with heavily weighted keywords are considered more relevant to that keyword, and usually rank higher.
- Don't overdo. This can cause the spider to think that you are trying to fool it.
- Some sites have resorted to using keywords that have no relevance to the
actual content. This has potentially drastic consequences for the engines that are trying to return accurate results on a query.
This might work for a short time but the search engines will catch
on and you will be penalized. Your goal should be accurate indexing of your site by the search engine robots.
- Each keyword should be separated by a comma, with no space after
the comma. Example: keyword1,keyword2,key phrase,keyword4
- Limit keywords to 1024 characters
top of page
All graphics are ignored by the search engines.
A page with nothing but graphics will never get good rankings. Your
pages should have at least a few well-written paragraphs that tell the
world what you do or what you offer. These paragraphs should include as many of your 12 top keywords as possible.
top of page
Remain patient as you wait for the search engines to pick up your pages. This can take
anywhere from several minutes to months. You will
need to check your ranking regularly to determine if you are listed
and where you are positioned. You can use the revisit-after meta tag to tell the search
engine when to return.
If you have chosen good meta tags, you should have a good position near the top. Just
because you appear at the top of the search results doesn't mean that
you are guaranteed to remain there. New sites appear constantly
and search engines regularly change the methods they use to index them.
By checking your ranking you can determine what your position is and whether it is trending
upward or downward. If your rank is spiraling downwards, or you can't
seem to push ahead of competitors, its time for some more work.
Take a look at the sites that have higher listings and review their meta tags and page content.
Don't let your competitors get a leg up by ignoring your ranking trends. Maintain your position
and you should get a steady reward in the form of new visitors and increased traffic to your site.
By comparing your site to the top three sites, you can learn what other sites do to give
them a higher position and incorporate those features into your site.
top of page