Optimizing Websites for Search Engines
Website authors often wonder why their site is not found
by search engines. Here are some tips to increase the chances that
your site will be indexed and found successfully by other users:
Frequency and location
One of the the main rules in a search engine's ranking algorithm
involves the location and frequency of keywords on a
web page. Pages with the search terms appearing in the HTML <title>
tag are often assumed to be more relevant than others to the topic.
Search engines will check to see if the search keywords appear
near the top of a web page, such as in the headline or in the first
few paragraphs of text. They assume that any page relevant to the
topic will mention those words right from the beginning.
Frequency is the other major factor in how search engines
determine relevancy. A search engine will analyze how often
keywords appear in relation to other words in a web page. Those with
a higher frequency are often deemed more relevant than other web
pages. If you want users to be able to find your page about
gardening, but the word "gardening" only appears once on the page,
it's not likely to be successfully indexed by a search engine or
found by a user.
The keywords you expect people to find your site by need to be reflected in the page's content. In
particular, that means you need HTML text on your page. Sometimes
sites present large sections of text via graphics. It looks pretty,
but search engines can't read those graphics. That means they miss
out on text that might make your site more relevant. Use HTML text
Use proper meta tags on pages that you want to be
easily locatable by a search engine. Meta tags are information
inserted between the <head> tags at the top of your web pages.
Here's an example:
<TITLE>High Energy Physics Department Home Page</TITLE>
<META name="description" content="Everything you wanted to know
about high energy physics at Brookhaven Lab.">
<META name="keywords" content="physics,
accelerators, quark gluon plasma, ions, relativistic heavy ion
collider, alternating gradient synchrotron">
tag contains the text you want to be shown as your description. The
description goes between the quotation marks after the
content= portion of the
tag (generally, 200 to 250 characters may be indexed, though only a
smaller portion of this amount may be displayed).
allows you to provide additional text for crawler-based search
engines to index along with your body copy. Most crawlers now
ignore this tag but it is sometimes useful as a way to reinforce
the terms you think a page is important for on the crawlers that
still support it. For instance, if you had a page about stamp
collecting -- AND you say the words stamp collecting at various
places in your body copy -- then mentioning the words "stamp
collecting" in the meta keywords tag might help boost your page a
bit higher for those words. Remember, if you don't use the words
"stamp collecting" on the page at all, then just adding them to
the meta keywords tag is extremely unlikely to help the page do
well for the term.
Below are external links that provide more detailed information
on how to use Meta Tags and online generator applications that
will generate the code for you with a few point-and-clicks.
If you have a question that is not addressed in these
pages, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Modified: February 1, 2008