An Introduction to SEO - Chapter 3 - Search Engine Psychology
In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king
The people that develop search engine algorithms tend to keep the details to them selves. Partly to give them a competitive edge, but mainly to stop people 'Spamming' them (i.e. attempting to con the search engines that they are more relevant to a set of keywords than they really are, usually by repeating hidden keywords many times). Most search engines are wise to all these tricks and will demote any site that tries to use them - honesty is the best policy here.
So, if the algorithms are secret how can mere mortals like us get to know how they work ? In my case, reading lots of articles, a bit of detective work, trial and error.
So here, in rough order of importance, is a list of what most search engines are looking for and how you can make use of it :-
Textual content. This is the actual text of the page, not to be confused with images containing text. Adding lots relevant text here will increase the chances that someone searching for information will type in a key word or phrase that matches some of the text on one of your pages.
Description. <META NAME="description" CONTENT="Description of site">
Another Meta Tag. When a search engine is listing your site it will display the contents of this tag along with the title. Make this attractive to humans as well as robots. Try to include at least one or two important keywords here.
Inbound Links. This refers to links to your site from other sites. Many search engines are using these links as an indication of relevance and quality because few people will link to a bad site. When you are swapping links try to make them descriptive. For example "M2MN Project developer" Is far more effective than just "M2MN" because it gives people a reason to click on it and it contains words relevant to the site.
Internal Links. This refers to the links between pages inside your site. These will be treated in much the same way as inbound links. As it is your site you can have as many of these as you like. If you have chosen your file and folder names wisely there will other benefits - see below.
Domain name. Choose carefully, try to include a keyword or your brand name here. It is also possible to point two or more domain names at one site but check with your web host before you try this.
Title. <TITLE>Title of site</TITLE>
Another HTML Tag. This will normally appear in the browsers top title bar. Try to include a major keyword or two here. It has been suggested that you can repeat the entire title meta tag several times to get higher rankings. Beware, some search engines might consider this as spamming and rank your site lower.
Key Words. <META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="keyword1, keyword2">
This is a 'Meta Tag', invisible to someone viewing the page but very visible and very interesting to search engine robots. For maximum effect, any word you put here has to appear in the text of the page two or more times. Don't make the list too long.
While it is tempting to put attractive words here that have no relevance to your site, don't, you will just be wasting everybody's time. Because of this many search engines are putting less importance to the keyword meta tag. When you choosing key words avoid words like and, the, but, from, to as most search engines will ignore these.
Image tags. <IMG SRC="house.gif" ALT="House for sale">
This is an HTML tag. It is used to display images. Robots can't read any text that may be contained in the image but they can certainly read the text contained in the ALT tag. If you choose the wording carefully it will increase the relevance of that page and rank it higher up the list. As an added bonus, the search engine Google uses these for its image search feature.
File names and Folder names. While it is tempting to have names like page1.htm and page2.htm try to use filenames relevant to the subject of each page like property-1.htm or book-23.htm or even house-for-sale.htm, but don't change the name of the index page. Don't forget that there will be at least one internal link and possibly a few inbound links to each of these pages and each link will increase the relevance of the words used in the filenames. The same goes for folder names.
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