What the Search Engines Want.. and How to Give it to Them
by Elizabeth Kirwin, Sidhe Communications
& Mike Pires, 4YourWebsite.com
One question which should concern all internet marketers is --- What are the search engines looking for? Search engines are based on computer logic, which sees information in text or numerical form, and has a hierarchical approach to font sizes, typefaces, and repetition of words or phrases. This article will give details about search engine preferences and explain how website content can be constructed to cater to these preferences to increase ranking on Google and other search engines.
Is Your Site a Template? Google Ranks these Sites Low
If your site is a template (mortgage, real estate, etc) and Google reads many sites repeated in the same format on the web, this picky search engine may kick your site from the top to the bottom of the list.
Repetition of Industry Keywords
Industry specific keywords can be harvested from website statistics programs or constructed from a strategic plan to draw the right traffic to a site. For example, a realtor would want to repeat the words retirement, relocation, and purchase a second home along with a geographic location to draw long distance homebuyers to their site. By repeating industry specific keywords, a company or organization may increase site ranking in Google. Article writing on a given topic is a very effective tool for placing repetitive keyword text on a home page.
Page Title, Headline, Subhead, Bolded Text
Choose your page titles very carefully and be sure that they include your most important keywords. Not only does this increase the relevance of your page to the search engines, but it also looks better in the search results. When your page title looks better in the search results more searchers will choose your page from the list of possibilities, the more searchers choose your page, the higher it will rank. Be sure to use your keywords liberally in a headline, in subheadings, in the first sentence of the page and in bolded text. This will help your page rank well, while at the same time reassuring the internet searcher that they have landed on a page that is pertinent to what they are looking for.
Graphic Name Tags and Keywords
If you were designing your web pages just for the search engine spiders you would not use graphics at all, but it is necessary to strike a balance between making a page that is pleasing to look at vs. one that will satisfy the search engines. Choose images for your page that also relate to your keywords and make sure that your keywords are in your image alt tag. Make your image alt text describes what the image actually is. Look at your page with the images turned off to be sure that all of your images have accurate, useful and keyword-rich descriptions.
Link text is one of the most important ranking criteria. If you want to see how powerful link text is, try a Google search for "miserable failure". You will find George Bush's official bio and Michael Moore's home page at the top of the list even though neither page contains the phrase or even one of these words!
Keywords in Menu Items and other Internal Links
Internal links within a website direct users to your other pages. Keywords in menu items and other internal links are critical because search engines read them as another link. Don't waste links on text like "Click Here" or "This Page", use your keywords instead. Think of the link text as a vote to the search engines for what your website is about. When you vote make sure to use your keywords, if you won't vote for your own pages then who will?
How many times is your website mentioned on the web? This is another way search engines rank sites. Each time your site is mentioned on the web, insert keywords to introduce the site instead of "for more information" or "click here". Also, be aware that when inbound links are embedded on other sites, your site rises in ranking - any link will help, but a link with your keyword(s) is best. Article writing and syndication on the web ensures that inbound links to your site (contained in bios) are resident on many sites. Writing and disseminating national press releases on the web is another way to increase the number of inbound links. Links to the website are repeated in the press release.
Placement of links with websites of prominence is most important. This creates traffic. However, a savvy internet marketer will choose placement of links on web pages selectively, to increase company profits or an organization's visibility. Use outbound links that help an internet surfer find even more information about your target keywords and you will increase your website's level of authority for your keywords.
The general consensus seems to be that reciprocal links don't really help your search engine ranking and, in fact, can actually hurt your page rank if you are not careful. Swap links with websites that are already ranked well for your keywords and/or sites that will use your keywords in their link text. This will generate quality traffic to your site even if it does not have an effect on your page rank. Don't link to sites that have nothing to do with the subject of your keywords and especially do not link to sites that are nothing but a bunch of uncategorized links, links to these free-for-all link farms can do more harm than good.
Planting Invisible or Tiny Text Behind Home Page
Uploading massive amounts of invisible keyword writing on the home page was once a favored tool of web designers. It is no longer a good idea to mask keywords on the page in any way. Search engines may be fooled at first and your site may land on top of the list for a while, but once filters are run to detect this, search engines may semi-blacklist your site or remove it from results completely. Avoid trying to trick the search engines and stick to techniques that enhance your website's usefulness and relevance to its target audience. The rankings, the traffic and the loyalty of your visitors will follow automatically.