Posted Thursday, October 21, 2004
How many times have you heard webmasters ask you things like "What search engine do most of your visitors come from?" or "I got a great ranking on Altavista using META tags - what tactics do you use?". Everywhere you go there are newsletters telling you the "definate way" to get your site in the Top 10 search engine ranking. Businesses pump millions into search engine positioning every day. How can your humble website survive? There are a set of simple rules you should stick to in order to get a good position on all the major search engines and yet not spend a penny:
>> META TAGS
Meta tags are the lines at the top of your web page's HTML that search engines see first and they look like:
That would be a typical META description tag for Mike's DIY Shop, containing all the important keywords that surfers will likely type into their favourite search engine. Don't have more than 10 keywords or else they will each be far less effective, so the less the better. Also, phrases tend to work better, especially if they are unique. Don't put in common keywords like 'computer, free, chat' etc. You can be sure top businesses have payed to get a top ranking with these words already so just use them in phrases, like "DIY chat". Including one *very* rare keyword will likely push your site right to the top if it is typed by a surfer.
>> TITLE TAG
This is by far the most important tag of all in the art of search engine positioning. Include all your keywords and of course, the name of your site. Don't use words in the title tag that have nothing to do with your website or that are not included in your main body text or your site ranking will be greatly degraded.
>> BODY TEXT
Be sure to include all your best keywords here, near the top of the page. Try to put some keywords in heading tags (H1,H2,etc.) too for added power. Some search engines are now ranking sites with invisible text (text the same colour of your page which is not seen by the surfer) very badly but Altavista seems to do the opposite. Only use invisible text if you are trying to achieve a better ranking with Altavista.
>> ALT TAGS
Alt tags are descriptions of images on your site which appear while the image is loading. Most search engines index alt tags so try to include some keywords in them. Just a few words should do, otherwise the whole page will look amateur and badly put together until it is fully loaded. 1 pixel by 1 pixel images are great because they load up instantly and the alt text is not seen by the viewer.
The more sites that link to you, the better ranking your site will have. It's as simple as that! Also, sites with their own domain name like .com or .net help even more! Try to get lots of sites to link to you on their main page. Most webmasters will be only glad to link to you, if you link to them in return.
>> BANNER ADS
Try to keep banner ads near the bottom of the page if you can or else the search engine might not even index your page, instead indexing the URL the banner points to. This has been known to happen with major search engines so keep it low!
If there's one thing that will get you a search engine ranking worse than Frames-R-Us (Never heard of them? Thought so.) it's including frames in your site. Worse still, the Internet Standards Authority have said that frames are no longer in the set of Internet Standards! If you've just hired a professional website designer for $50 an hour and he's designed your site in frames, there's not much you can do but complain. If there's no way you're changing the design, try adding a tag in the HTML and putting some keywords there.
With all that information, you can't possibly go wrong! Now get to work improving your search engine position. When you're done submit to these engines and submit again every 2 months:
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