Improving a Web Site’s Presence

The following is some information with regard to improving a web site’s presence. This is only partly a matter of search engine optimization. I should also mention that each search engine uses its own criteria for ranking a web site, and that these criteria can change over the course of time.

Page Titles
Many search engines use page titles (the captions that appear at the top of a browser window) as the basis of their indexing, so the more meaningful your title, the more likely your site will be found. When someone uses one of the search engines, pages that have the search terms in their titles are often assumed to be more relevant than others.

When someone adds your web site to their list of favorite places or ‘bookmarks’, the bookmark is given the exact title of your page.

These are the characteristics of a good web page title:

  • It will specifically describe your product or service.
  • It will make proper use of 3 or 4 keywords.
  • The length will be between 10 and 150 characters long. (One author recommends between 50 and 70 characters.)
  • The number of words will be less than 10.

META Tags
A META tag does not display anything to be read when a person looks at a web page, but it does contain information that many search engines (though not all) will use to rate and index pages. The two most commonly used META tags are the Keywords tag and the Description tag.

Keywords

The Keywords tag will contain key words and phrases that are relevant to what your business or organization does. For instance, a home remodeling company would use such phrases as “home remodeling” and “home improvement”.

A search engine will analyze how often keywords appear in relation to other words in a web page. Those with a higher frequency are often deemed more relevant than other web pages. A key word or phrase should be used more than three times in the body of a site’s text.

Search engines will also check to see if the search keywords appear near the top of a web page, such as in the headline or in the first few paragraphs of text. They assume that any page relevant to the topic will mention those words right from the beginning.

For optimal results your Keywords tag should be between 50 and 250 characters long.

Description

The Description tag will contain a brief description of what your site is about. The description tag allows you to influence the description of your page in the crawlers that support the tag. All the major crawlers support the description tag, to some degree. If you have a description tag on your pages, you’ll most likely see the content used in some way.

Site Registration
You can sign up with a service that will register your site with multiple search engines; these services are cost effective as well as time savers. One such service, Traffic Blazer, is provided by GoDaddy. Submitnet.net is another. A third service, Freewebsubmission.com, will register your site with ‘the highest rated free internet search engines and directories’ at no cost to you.

Link Exchange
By analyzing how pages link to each other, a search engine can both determine what a page is about and whether that page is deemed to be important and thus deserving of a ranking boost. People can improve the rankings of their sites if they have reciprocal links to other relevant web sites.

Clickthrough Measurement
A search engine may watch what results someone selects for a particular search, and eventually drop high-ranking pages that aren’t attracting clicks, while promoting lower-ranking pages that do pull in visitors.

Social Media
Social Media allow individuals to exchange news and other information through the worldwide web and related types of electronic communication. The list of social media technologies is large, and it is still growing. There are many providers. People can share text, images, sound recordings and video footage. A good social media tool, such as a web log, can attract attention and provide a lot of fresh content to people when they visit your web site.

Anchor Text
Anchor text is what you see when you display a hot link on a web page. This text tells both people using your site and the search engines something about the page you are linking to. Make sure your links are descriptive, concise, and easy for people to see.

Alt Attribute
When you add images to a web site you should make sure each one has a distinctive name and an alt attribute. The alt attribute will display text about an image in case people are not able to see it for some reason. Both using the alt attribute and distinct file names can tell search engines something about your images.

Further Information
A survey by Murphy Associates, Your Marketing Department, identified what people particularly like and dislike in websites. Contact John Murphy at john@MarketingWithMurphy.com or call (262) 786-7424 to get the results of this survey. I would also recommend the book Web Forging by Keith Klein to learn more about improving your presence on the web.