Search Engines - Revisited - Part 2

Tom Snyder photo by Tom Snyder on Dec 21, 1999

Last Month I talked about how the title of a page on your Web site contributes to your findability by the search engines.

Metatags are also critical to your search engine placement. They embed Keywords and Descriptions within a page, that, while invisible to the human visitor, are searched for and indexed by search engine robots.

Again, the key here is to be lean, essential and relevant. Whether it’s the keyword list or the brief description, your metatags should not contain a single non-essential word. Unless you’re the only company in your industry on the Web, cute phrases, endless lists of everything you do, or your CEO’s alma mater are all just plain harmful to your placement.

Visible text is the next area. But this is particularly tricky, because with Web sites, visible does not always mean visible. Text may be displayed on a Web site several ways: as HTML text, as a graphic, and as the result of programming applications (Java, ActiveX, Flash, etc.). Of all of them, HTML text is the only one that is picked up by the search engines. Some engines will index all the visible text on the page, while others just use a predetermined number of characters and/or words. And while the title and metatag rules also apply to visible text (not including words that people won’t be specifically searching for), WHERE that text is placed is the most important, and has the highest incidence of being done incorrectly.

When a page is built using a non-frames technique, the visible HTML is the text the search engine will grab. However, on a frames page, the text that is captured is the text that would be seen if that frames page were displayed by a non-frames capable browser.

The vast majority of Web developers of frames pages (both amateur and professional) do this incorrectly. This is evidenced buy the fact that one of the most popular search phrases in the major search engines is “This page uses frames but your browser doesn’t support them.” That is the text that a major do-it-yourself Web design software program puts in that critical position when it creatures a new Web site. Because so few designers know that this is the case, they never fix it, and then wonder why they don’t come up in the search engines when you do keyword search for their company, product or service!

If search engine visibility is critical to your site’s success, then you either need to understand how to optimize your site, or find a company that does.

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