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Baiting the Search Engine SpidersBefore we register your URL, we add a few things to make sure the search engines classify your page properly - or at least more like the way you want them to!
Below is an overview of the elements we include in your web pages. Note that not all search engines look at all of these things. However, if a certain search engine doesn't count the element, it will generally ignore it. These are not really "tricks", but are basic page construction elements that can be added to any web page. By using these elements correctly and where appropriate, you may tap into visitors who previously missed your site.
TITLE TagThe document TITLE has the most significant effect on the visibility of a page. Not only will it have a direct effect on the ranking of a page, but it is the text that will be presented in search results. Make it short and relevant. Use words that reflect the theme of the page (i.e. the search phrase) and that will make your title stand out. Avoid prefacing your title with the words "Welcome to..." and resist the temptation to place your company name in the title of every page. Aim for the editorial brevity of a newspaper headline, WITH YOUR MOST IMPORTANT KEYWORDS CLOSEST TO THE BEGINNING!
The META description tag<META name="description" content="A search engine shows the content of this tag below the title of your site when it appears in the results.">
This tag is very important, since you can use it to encourage people to click on your listing when your are found in a search engine. When your page comes up in the search results, the contents of your META description tag are displayed right below the title of your page. If no description tag is found, the search engine attempts to create a description for you and often fails to describe your site properly. It's worthwhile to pay some attention to fine-tuning this tag, because the two things that determine if you'll get people to click to your page or not are the title of your page and your META description tag. If you're going to work hard enough to grab a position in the first page of results, you wouldn't want visitors not clicking on your listing just because it looks uninteresting, now would you?
Make your description tag short but informative - if you can trim it to less than 13 words and you feel that it can still give enough information to make the user visit your site, you've done well. If your description tag is over 13 words, try to think how you could reduce the amount of words and still say what you want to say.
Why does the description have to be so short? Well, usually the search engine only displays a small part of it in the results list, and if the tag contains too many words, the "extra" words are cut off. So a description like:
"Mike's homepage! If you visit my site, you'll find a huge amount of information about my favorite food, hot dogs!"
Can look like:
"Mike's homepage! If you visit my site, you'll find a huge amount..."
If the user is looking for information about hot dogs, he probably won't visit Mike's site even if it has a high ranking on the result list, because the user doesn't see that it's contains a huge amount of information about hot dogs. For this reason, try to place the relevant stuff near the beginning of the description and the blabber to the end (or just cut the latter right off). If Mike used
"Information on hot dogs, my favorite food. If you'll visit my site, called 'Mike's homepage', you'll find a huge amount of interesting stuff related to them."
as his description, he'd be better off than in the first example. He'd still have a description that is too long, but if the search engine decided to cut it, people would still see it as relevant to hot dogs from the first four words and visit. It would be even better if Mike could just lose the uninteresting stuff after the first sentence, since this would raise the weight of the phrase 'hot dogs' in his tag, earning a (very small) boost in his ranking from the search engine.
Notice that of the major search engines, Google (supplies secondary results to Yahoo's search) doesn't support the description tag.
The META keywords tagOK, now you've learned what the META description is about and how you can use it to your advantage. Let's move on to the next tag on our list, the keywords tag. This is what it looks like:
<META name="keywords" content="hot dogs information recipes">
The keywords tag contains words and phrases the creator of the page considers to be relevant to the document. These words can be separated by commas, spaces or both - the method of separation makes little difference. This tag is not shown to the people arriving to your site, nor do the search engines display it in their results, but many search engines do read this tag and give a slight boost to the page for any words mentioned in the keywords tag. You should only use words and phrases that are mentioned on your page and you shouldn't use any word more than three times in your keywords tag. The best size for this tag is around 10 words or less, as you do not want to dilute your important keywords and phrases with obscure words. All of the words you put in your keywords tag should be relevant to the document; don't put "mp3" in your keywords if your article about endangered wolves just happens to mention that you listened to a mp3 while creating the document.
Previously, in the stone age of search engines (1998 or so), the keywords tag was a very important part of a successful search engine optimization effort. Nowadays, its effect has been reduced by the appearance more sophisticated search engine algorithms. I'd still use this tag on my pages, but I wouldn't fuss too much about it - a good META keywords tag can give you a small boost in many engines, but you can create a well-ranking page even without one.
ALT= TextAlt= text is a part of the image tag. You will see: <img src="picture.gif" alt="mypicture.gif" border="0" hspace="40" WIDTH="92" HEIGHT= "80">
Put a short sentence with keywords in the quotation marks...or just a few keywords. This is what a viewer will see if they run the mouse over the image or surf in with images turned off, so make it short and ok to look at- not just a place to stuff in more keywords.
Page ContentHere's where you can make more big points with keywords. Try to get your most important keywords in the first 25 words of page text. That can include the alt= text for a logo on top, in your page headings, or in the page text. Get that #1 keyword as the first word! The closer your page's content (and keywords) are to the <head> area, the better. Use your keywords a few times, but make the text interesting, too. You have to keep the viewers there to read your intelligent prose, after all!
A few search engines don't look at the description meta tag and will look at the first few words of your page for your page description. You don't want that to say "Welcome to our page" or something equally inane. Make the text something you want to see in the description, even if you have to just repeat your description tag! You also don't want your navigation bar text to show up here!
Unless you are being well paid to show a banner at the top of your page, don't. For one thing, it puts distance between your<body> content and the <head> area. Also, why would you give anyone an incentive to click off your page? They might not come back!
Doorway PagesIt is important to realize that a single page will not rank well for all your chosen keywords on all engines. Since there are so many pages indexed on the web now, the content or your page must be very focused to score well with today's engines. Therefore, we create what are known as "doorway" pages which are designed to rank well for certain keywords/phrases.
Most sites will always have multiple keywords and phrases that people may search on to find your site. We create separate pages that emphasize those keywords/phrases. To go even further, we take into account that all search engines use different ranking algorithms when indexing sites. With that in mind, we use our knowledge of each engine's searching algorithms and create pages tailored for each major engine as well.
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