I've written this tutorial for improving search engine placement and position ratings to help you promote your web site and increase traffic and visibility to your web site.
All the information contained in this article was obtained from the list of resources on the Search Engine Placement index. I also keep a running file in my mail folder for search engine placement information and some of the tips were gleaned from here via the newsgroups and lists that I subscribe to. The best of which is the newsletter published by Danny Sullivan the author of The Webmasters Guide to Search Engines. This article is meant as an overview of all these articles and newsletters. This e-zine will also start to maintain a search engine site which will be updated as I find new information or you share some with me and the readers.
How Your Url and Content Can Improve Search Engine Positions
Having a domain of your own can be used to raise search engine positions if you index your site to your advantage. You're thinking how right? I will use this site as an example. For navigation and layout purposes I have split this site up into several smaller sites. These are broken down into even smaller sites with specific audiences in mind. The html index which is a reference for HTML code and document layout, the tutorial index which is generally lessons on how to implement the reference materials in the HTML index, the site developers index which is an index for references and resources of interest to site developers and marketers. The site developers area is indexed into three areas. Two are the new promotion and search engine indexes and the third is the original index.
This helps in two ways, first of all, on the search engines that index sites and not pages I get six listings instead of one. As I understand the way these critters think, if it sees an index.html file it thinks it's a different site. The second benefit is it enables me to use, more effectively, the keywords in my meta tags, title and document structure. The only real difference it makes to me is in the directory at the ISP, I have six instead of one. Remember to link to all the sub-pages that are part of the site so the robot can index those as well. You may want to try to list these yourself because the bot can sometimes take quite a while to get around to it and there are no penalties for this so why not just disregard the information on the site and try and do it yourself. If you use the same keywords in several related documents you could get a long list of your documents placed at the top of the list. If you use Alta Vista you may have noticed this already.
The content of the page will help in better placement on some of the engines because they track the keyword usage in the content but of those that do some use % in which case ounce equals best or 100%. As an author I don't like to continually use the same words over and over however, if you look at it from this perspective it is very advantageous. WebCrawler and Lycos use keywords contained in the body to give a higher ranking so if placement in these two is important sprinkle keywords throughout the page.
This brings to mind some of the "spamming" techniques mentioned briefly in the first months issue. "Spamming" is now useless because as quick as webmasters learn a new trick it is penalized by the search engines shortly after it is used widely. Everyone knows the old same color font as background trick, and so they started hiding them in comments <!--keywords or title--> now both are being penalized at all search engines but Open Text which is currently down and not accepting URLs. They say they are making some adjustments, be sure this is one of them! A rule of thumb should be if you can't see it on the page and it isn't part of the <meta>, <title>, or in the image tag "alt" attribute forget it! It will only penalize your rating, or in some cases, at some of the engines it results in an outright ban for the domain name for up to six months. All I have to say about this is HOORAY for the engines, "spamming" is a researchers nightmare!
How Document Structure and Page Layout Affect Search Engine Placement
Document structure and the style of page layout (frames, tables etc.) do affect your listing. In some cases ie: frames, it will limit the robots' ability to even index your site! If your using frames you should have the robot index the no frames version as some can't index frames or will just index the frameset which isn't much to index and will result in a low ranking. The use of tables to layout a document can and will in some cases change your placement because when you have a table for say a left border margin you force the meat of the document where most of your keywords will be found further down in the document lowering your ranking. Keep in mind that some engines bots only index part of your site ranging from 10-50%. A rule of thumb could be to put keywords in the left margin or in the top table of your document.
For document structure the easiest way to explain it is to give you a proper structure for an HTML document, so here it is:
<!--doc type--> important for validation
<html> this is an html document
<head> this is the start of the head element
<title>Place as many keywords as possible here, be sure they are the most relevant and most important</title> title of document
<meta name="keywords" content="put up to but not more than 1024 characters here separated by comas see further comments"> meta tag for keywords
<meta name="description" content="A description of the page or your business, try to use as many of the keywords as feasable"> meta tag for description
</head> this is the end of the head element
<body> this is the start of the contents of the document or in simple terms everything before this is not in the "viewing" area of the browser.
<h1> This </h1>
<h2>is </h2> header
These are used like a title in the viewing area. These are used by some search engines to arrive
at ratings as
which are a sort of sub title, using them for emphasis or font size is actually bad HTML!
</body> this is the end of the body element
</html> this is the end of this HTML document.
Document structure does seem to have some merit with the search engines and thinking logically from their point of view the reasons are probably twofold. Good structure results in documents that are easy to spot the meat in and secondly only good authors or those that really know what they're doing can produce them. This results in higher ratings for good documents because lets face it, the advent of all the HTML editors has resulted in a lot of less then acceptable pages. Pages of higher quality are coveted by the search engines as witnessed by a letter to one of the lists I subscribe to from YAHOO! giving us a password for faster submission! If a submission isn't listed within 7 days we can contact them directly to ascertain the problem.
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