by Arthur Hart
Websites by Ideal
It doesn’t pay to try to fool search engines into giving your web pages a higher page ranking than they deserve. The purpose of the search engines is to provide their users with relevant and useful information. Therefore, your focus in getting better results from your website should be cooperating with the search engines. In other words, you should focus most of your attention on putting relevant and useful information on your website – the kind of information that the search engines would love to direct people to when they’re looking for it.
This being said, there are some ways of helping the search engines find out what information you have available so that they can properly index it and present it when they think it is relevant to what someone has asked them to find on the internet. It helps to visualize the activity of a search engine system as colony of little ants busily scurrying all over the internet looking for food to bring back to the main databases. The food they are looking for, as we indicated before, is information that might be relevant and useful to someone making a request for such information from the search engine.
So how do we help these busy little ants find the food we have for them on our website? One of the best ways is to use good descriptive page titles. A page title is a string of up to about 60 characters or so that the web browser will display at the top of the page. It’s easily missed by most people because it’s almost hidden out of sight at the very top of the screen – way above all those useful toolbars you’ve got installed. However, our little search engine ants pay particular attention to these titles as a good indication of what is to be found on the page. Knowing this, one should pay attention to using meaningful page titles. For example, if your website is about the care and feeding of gerbils, then the title of your photo gallery page should be “Gerbil Pictures” or “Pictures of Gerbils” rather than simply “Pictures” or “Photo Gallery.”
Our little ants aren’t intelligent enough to know that since your whole website is about gerbils, your photo gallery page is naturally going to contain pictures of gerbils! Each page is indexed individually and needs to offer as much help as possible as to its own content. A good way of indicating to our little ants what is on a page, even before they arrive to examine its content, is to have a meaningful name for the page. The same principle applies to naming pages as we saw in giving them meaningful page titles. For example, the page address “http://www.my-gerbil-website.com/gerbil-pictures.html” gives the search engines a lot more meaningful information than “http://www.mygerbilwebsite.com/gerbilpictures.html.” People have gotten into the habit of leaving the hyphens out of domain names and will usually opt for “mygerbilwebsite.com” instead of “my-gerbil-website.com” even though the later gives the search engines more information. The search engines treat the hyphens as blanks. Therefore, the individual words stand out for them in the first domain name. However, they aren’t quite up to figuring out where the blanks or hyphens should go in the second domain name.
If you know or can guess what word or phrase someone is likely to use when searching the web for information that you have on your website, then by all means use those words or phrases in the page content. Again, however, don’t overdo it by packing your pages with keyword phrases just to try to get the search engines to give your page an artificially high ranking. The search engines have caught on to this trick and if they think you’re trying to put one over on them, they can and will reduce your page ranking instead of increasing it. By the same token, keyword meta-tags in the internal page header, that were originally meant to be used to help search engines index the page properly, are virtually ignored these days. This came about because too many people abused the intent of these tags and just stuffed them full of the same keywords repeated over and over in an effort to fool the search engines.
In summary, the best practice is to work in concert with the purpose of the search engines, which is to provide relevant and useful information to the person using the internet. Steer clear of so-called “black hat” techniques such as “cloaking” which intentionally shows the search engines different content than will actually be displayed to the human users of your website. It all starts with creating or providing useful content and then helping the search engines find it easily so that it can be indexed and easily retrieved when it is relevant to a search engine user. The latest tricks and techniques for getting your pages to show up first will eventually be recognized and penalized by the search engines as they are counter to their purpose.
How to Get Better Search Results:
• Relevant Content, i.e.: remodeler, Bohemia
• Descriptive Page Titles
• Meaningful Names on a page
• Use hyphens – each word searchable
• Use keyword phrases in page content