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Optimise your Site for the Search Engines Pt 1

By Darren Yates
Posted Monday, June 28, 2004

This is part one of two articles listing the ten most important points to remember when optimising your site and individual pages for the search engines.

If you optimise your pages by working through these points one by one you will see a significant rise in your search engine rankings.

1: Buy the right Domain names !
The best way to increase your rankings in the Search Engines and for the least amount of effort is to choose the right domain name for your site from the start. The SE's(search engines) give a domain name the highest prominence and score when providing search results. So it's a priority to have your domain name contain keywords relevant to your site content.

Further to this you should make your keywords readable by the search engine, otherwise you're wasting your time. To do this is very simple you just use hyphens in the name.
eg and, the first name here may look neater to the casual observer and could and should be used to advertise your site offline its easier to remember and to type. But to the SE's this is meaningless, they can't pick out the keywords in there. The hyphen breaks the keywords apart and allows the SE's to read them.

You can have both sites pointing to the same website but the one with the hyphens should be the domain name that is actually hosted.

The other point to remember is that domain names can now have up to 67 characters in them including the extension(.com, .net etc) now as opposed to the original 23. So you can load your domain name with a number of keywords to boost your ranking, just remember to use the hyphen to separate them out.

This also means that if a really great domain name has gone you can get something close and in fact better because you could simply add another keyword. Eg say wasn't available, I could register best-exercise or

I have a number of clients using this technique very successfully, and of course if you check out the address bar above this very site does the same thing. ;-)

For the cheapest domain names online with the best control panel online try ( highly recommend these guys I've used them for years now and register all my own and my clients domains through them.

2: Choose the right Title for your page.
The title of your page is what visitors will see across the top of their browsers when they visit your site. Its important that each of your sites pages is titled differently to distinguish them from each other and to tie in with the content of the page.

This is also the title of your listing when your site is returned in the results of a Search Engine.

This is probably the second most important thing to get right after choosing your domain name. If your domain name has good keywords then repeat these keywords in the title of your page, add a hyphen and then add your keyword rich title for that page. So going back to the example above your title should probably be along the lines of best exercise equipment - best, cheap, new and used exercise equipment.

<title>best exercise equipment - best, cheap, new and used exercise equipment</title>

Notice how I get exercise equipment in there twice, first as the name of the site and then as a description of the page.

I've mentioned keywords a fare bit already and I should probably say jump down to No5 for a better idea of what they are and how to use them.

3: Use the H1 tag on the title/heading of your page.
A H1 tag is the heading text tag in HTML. SE's give this tag more relevancy as it's generally used around the title of a page eg <h1>best exercise equipment</>

best exercise equipment

but as you can see it looks pretty ugly and much to chunky for a nice looking site.

So here's a little known trick you can use to keep the H1 tag but have the text appear as normal. *whisper use css style sheets to shrink the text back to size. The text will have a large invisible border around it essentially taking up the same space on the page as if it hadn't been styled but you can get around this with a clever layout. Check the title of this page '10 ways to Optimise your site' that's a H1 tag that's been fixed. Big difference isn't there.

This is a little known but very useful secret. ;-)

Here's the code to do the trick, place it in the head tags of your page -

<style type="text/css">
h1 {font-size: 13px;}

Its that simple, play around with the font-size until its in proportion to the rest of your page.
Remember it's the title of your page and should stand out a little from the rest of the text.

4: Meta tags are still useful. Choosing keywords.
Not as important as they once were due to abuse. But still used by a number of well known search engines. But not at all by others. Which means its still important to use them to cover all your bases.

Essentially the meta tags you should be using when targeting the search engines are keywords, description and robots. There are a number of others I'll touch on in a second.

Keywords should also contain keyphrases and list all the keywords/keyphrases relevant to your site. There are two ways to list your keywords/keyphrases. Either with commas separating them or without. The benefit to not using commas is that the keywords side by side can also be read as keyphrases by the SE's. Where as a comma separates everything out. So not using commas allows for some odd combinations to be picked up by the SE's.

<meta name="keywords" content=" best exercise equipment cheap home gym equipment health good exercise order online">

That's just an example off the top of my head I haven't researched the words as I normally would, you should also have much more in there around 30 words at least. Notice again I've started of with 'best exercise equipment' to echo and boost the use of that phrase elsewhere as discussed above.

The description is self explanatory again and it's a good move to echo the title of the page and fill it out a little so -

<meta name="description" content="best exercise equipment - best, cheap, new and used exercise equipment reviewed and available to order online">

The robots tag is very simple and is not strictly necessary but useful. What it does is tell the visiting SE spiders what to do when it comes to listing your site. Spiders are the little programs that crawl the web gathering info on websites for the SE's. You can also use something called a robots.txt file to further control the spiders, but I won't go into that here since its not strictly necessary and the robots tag is enough for our aims at the moment.

Here's an example -
<meta name="robots" content ="index, follow">

With this we're telling the spider/robot to follow all the links when visiting this page.
If you have a members area or an admin area on your site that you don't want listed in the SE's, or any other pages you want to keep to yourself then you can use this -

<meta name="robots" content ="index,no follow">

Other tags that may or may not be useful included from this page -

<meta name="author" content="how to make money online">
<meta http-equiv="expires" content="0">
<meta name="resource-type" content="document">
<meta name="distribution" content="global">
<meta name="revisit-after" content="1 days">
<meta name="rating" content="general">
<meta name="generator" content="php-nuke 6.8 - copyright 2003 by (">
<meta name="copyright" content="copyright (c) 2003 by (http://how) to make money online">

In general I wouldn't use any of the above tags other than author and maybe revisit-after. Since using them will push the text content of your page further from the top of your document.

A well known and very useful tool for checking out what search words people are using on the SE's is Wordtracker. When you know what people are searching for you know what keywords and keyphrases you should be weaving into your website. This tool is used by all the online Marketing experts. Another tool is the Overture suggestion tool which will list the number of times a word or phrase has been searched for on the Overture engine over the previous month. A handy tool that will query Overture directly from your desktop and store all results of your keyword searches is Good Keywords.

For a more extensive list of keyword resources try my keyword research page.

5: Body text Keyword/Keyphrases and bold text.
This is very much where the focus has switched when it comes to keywords and keyphrases. Generally it makes sense the more focused your body text is on what your site is about the better you will get listed. In those terms everyone's a winner. You get better listing and your content is more relevant in order to achieve that. Does that make sense ? let me clarify.

Returning to our examples again our site is called
We've already used the phrase 'exercise equipment' in our domain name, page title, body text title and in our meta tags.
If we now add this same phrase to the main text of our page a number of times ideally near the top within the first paragraph we'll boost our ranking in the SE's yet again.

Note you should try to make the phrase fit the text and not just cram it in there. It's also important not to over do it. As it is with the other techniques described in this article. You can get your site dropped and even barred from the SE's if it's seen to be 'spamming' them by abusing these techniques. So tread carefully and try not to over do it.

Back to the keywords/keyphrases, there's a further twist to this if we also make the body text 'exercise equipment' bold we'll score again in the SE's since text in bold is seen as being more important and again more relevant. ;-) The side benefit is that it breaks up the text a little for our site visitors and makes the page a little more interesting.
About the Author
Darren Yates is the owner of ditto design a web design/development and search engine marketing company. He also owns and manages a site focused on the many and varied ways of making money online. Featuring product/service reviews, resources, articles, links and a forum. Darren first got online in 1994 and started up ditto design in 1999, making a living online ever since.


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