Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2004
A frequent question asked is "Why do some people achieve a high search engine positioning and get plenty of traffic while others do not? Simple. The people who have high search engine positions in the major search engines selected keywords that many people are searching with and placed those keywords in the body of their content correctly. This is what is known as search engine optimization or keyword optimization.
Search engine optimization will be one of the most important investments you will make. Whether you decide to take on the project yourself or hire a professional service, we highly recommend search engine optimization before you submit to the search engines.
Keywords: Do's and Don'ts
Here are some tips on how to optimize your web pages and achieve high search engine rankings for your web pages using keywords, meta tags2 and effective copy writing. This article is best suited for the webmaster or the author of the web site content. It is usually the webmaster who is responsible for making sure that pages are search engine ready. This article contains web page code snippets (SHOWN IN THIS TYPEFACE) given as examples to follow. Although this article is technical in nature, it is vital to anyone who wants to achieve a high search engine ranking.
Use of Keywords
Keywords and keyword phrases must occur often and near the beginning of the TITLE tag, the DESCRIPTION and KEYWORDS meta tags and the BODY5 of your web pages. The more frequent the keywords appear and the nearer they appear to the beginning of the tags and pages, the greater the chance of achieving high search engine positioning.
The tags3 that are most important for page optimization are (in the following order):
1. The TITLE tag
Example: Plumbing Supplies Company
This is the most important tag on your web page. It should begin with the most important search phrase users will enter to find your site. It is more important than the content and it is more important than the description or keywords meta tags. Users searching for "plumbing supplies² will stand a greater chance of finding your site using the above title than if it were:
Plumbing Supply Company
2. The DESCRIPTION meta tag
Use a plain English sentence of no more than 40 words for your description. Again, the description should begin with the most important keywords. Search engines will often use the contents of this tag to display results of a search. If there is no description meta tag then the search engine will attempt to build one from the content at the top of the body of the page. Words like "Back Next Products Support² won't mean anything to users reading search results. Also do not use a list of keywords as a description. Search engines will see this as an attempt to achieve a high ranking and will probably penalize you and your site may appear much lower on the list as a result.
3. The KEYWORDS meta tag
Although the keywords meta tag is important, most search engines will derive keywords from the actual content of web pages. Nevertheless, you should include the keywords meta tag in all pages you want indexed. Do not "spam4² the search engines by repeating keywords. If you do you will most likely be penalized with a lower ranking or even banned altogether. Additionally, only use keywords that appear in the actual content of the page. If the search engines detect that you are trying to score a high ranking by using keywords that have nothing to do with the content of the page then you risk being penalized or banned.
4. ALT5 tags for images
Although having a lesser importance than the above tags the tag should also be used to achieve sufficient keyword density.
Keyword Density and Copy Writing
Keywords and keyword phrases must occur often and near the top the body of your web pages to be indexed. The more frequent the keywords appear and the nearer they appear to the beginning of the page, the greater the chance of high search engine placement. Effective use of keywords in the body of the page is the second most important factor for high search engine placement. As discussed above the tag is the most important.
The Home Page is The Most Important Page
The home page should contain the greatest concentration of keywords. If a user searches for "plumbing supplies² make sure that the phrase "plumbing supplies² appears on the home page. Search engines will list in order of importance all the sites having content related to the search phrase entered by the user. If the phrase "plumbing supplies² appears in one of the pages of your site, then the search engines will place a greater importance on your site and it will stand a much greater chance of getting a higher ranking if the phrase also appears on the home page.
The goal of the webmaster is to discover the best keywords to use in your content and meta tags. Try to figure out the search words and phrases users would enter to find your site.
Don't Use an Image for the Body of Your Page
Since search engines use the actual content (words) of your page as a basis for indexing, never use an image as the main content of your page. Doing so will reduce your chances of high search engine positioning.
Use Search Phrases
Using the above tags as a guide, a user may type "plumbing supplies² in a search engine. This is a search phrase because it is more than one word. Most users use search phrases or keyword combinations, not single words.
Do Not Use Hidden Text
Never attempt to hide text to achieve greater keyword density by making it the same color as the background or use any similar "trick² to fool the search engines. Doing so only risks your site being banned from the search engines. Always be up front and straightforward in your web page design. Never attempt to hide anything from the search engines. These tricks usually backfire.
1 keywords The words users enter into search engines to find web pages with content they are looking for.
2 meta tags Content in a web page that the search engines can see but are not usually seen by the user when the page is viewed on the Internet. It is common to include a meta tag with a list of KEYWORDS to help the search engines properly categorize it. Two other important meta tags are the TITLE and DESCRIPTION tags described in this article.
3 tags Web pages are written in a format in which the text is "tagged² with codes that the browser can read. These tags tell the browser how to display the page.
4 spam The derogatory term for excessive and unwanted communication on Internet lines derived from the canned meat product with the same name. In this context it refers to the repeated use of the same keywords in the meta tags to try to gain an unfair advantage or to fool the search engines into giving you a higher ranking. "Spamming² the search engines can get you banned, so it is an unsafe practice.
5 alt tag This is a tag used on images. Although most Internet users have systems that can display images, some cannot. The purpose of the tag is to provide some text which these users see in place of the image.
About the Author
Sue Doughty is the Marketing Director of Studio1 Design and Hosting and has over 15 years experience in her field. Her advice has helped many businesses achieve success on the Internet. Visit Studio1 Design and Hosting on the Web at (http://www.studio1webdesign.com), email mailto:email@example.com or phone toll-free (888) 414-2390.