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Designing Sites for Search Engine Relevance


Trying to reach the top of the search engine rankings is a combination of an art form, pure science, and luck.   There is no guarantee that you will reach the top but you should at least try.   Most people will not go beyond the first few pages of listings.  You will need to do a little bit of study because all search engines are not alike. If you follow the tips below you will cover the major search engines.
        When thinking about how a search engine looks at your page, you need to look at a number of items on your site:

  • The Title
  • Your description in the meta tag
  • Your headline
  • The first paragraph
  • Page content
  • Keywords in meta tags
  • ALT text in your image tags
  • Frames
  • Even your domain name

        First a little bit about Meta Tags.  Many, but not all, search engines use meta tags in their indexing.  Here is an example for a site selling antique dolls.

<TITLE>Joe's Antique Dolls</TITLE>
<META name="description" content="Learn about and buy antique dolls from 1600 to the present.">
<META name="keywords" content="antique dolls, dolls, antiques, buying antiques, buying dolls, doll history">

        The meta tags are placed within the head tags at the top of your page.  Notice that the title as well as the description used the words antique and dolls in them.  Then the keywords tag has a listing of words you think people will be likely to type in when they are looking for items that may be of interest to them.

        Your headline, first paragraph, and the general content of the page are important for indexing.  Search engines look over your page to try to find keywords that will answer searches.  Try to incorporate your keywords in all of these areas but be careful not to try to load the page with them.   That is called spamdexing. Many search engines now will eliminate you if you use "invisible words" (text in the same color as the background), extremely small repetitive keywords, etc.

        Also remember to use keywords if possible in ALT tags for images, don't spam.  Many search engines cannot read image maps so it is a good idea to have text links also.

        A word about frames.  Many indexes cannot read frames.  When they see the frame index, that may only see "sorry you r browser is not frames compatible". This won't help you at all.   It is really best to avoid frames if at all possible.  If you do use frames you should set up a no frames alternative that can be read by search engines. For more information on writing frames with no frame alternatives visit this page at Builder.com

Other Links of Interest on the Subject

  • Search Engine Watch - the best place to find out more on this subject as well as everything you ever want to know about search engines (this link will open a new page)

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