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Search Engine Rankings

By http://www.seoinc.com

How to get good Search Engine Rankings

What search engines don't like It is extremely important to know what search engines don't want. Otherwise, your perfectly optimized site can be blacklisted or not indexed. This is a high price to pay, considering that search engines account for 85% of new visitors to some sites. Therefore, when you learn about factors that influence search engine rankings, you should also learn what to avoid.

How do search engines work?
Search engines help people find relevant information on the Internet. Major search engines have huge databases of web sites that surfers can search by typing in some text. Search engines send out spiders or robots, which follow links from web sites and index all pages they come across. Each search engine has its own formula for indexing pages; some index the whole site, while others index only the main page. Search engines decide the amount of weight that will be placed on various factors that influence results. Some want link popularity to be the most important criterion, while others prefer meta tags. Search engines use a combination of factors to devise their formulas.

Directories - a whole different ball game
Often confused with search engines, directories are completely different. Unlike search engines, directories use "human indexing;" people review and index links. Directories have rigid guidelines that sites must meet before being added to their index. Therefore, they have a smaller, but cleaner index Yahoo!, LookSmart, MSN, Go and others are directories. Factors that influence search engine rankings are irrelevant to directory rankings. Since people review sites, more attention is placed on the quality of a site: its functionality, content and design. Directories strive to categorize sites accurately and often correct categories suggested by a site's webmaster.

Hybrid search engines: The new generation
Hybrid search engines combine a directory and a search engine to give their visitors the most relevant and complete results. The Top 10 search engines/directories today are hybrid. Yahoo!, for example, is a directory, which uses results from Google (a search engine) for its secondary results.

What search engines don't like
Search engines now know of this technique and define it as "Spam". Currently, sites that use invisible text are banned from most of the major search engines.

Spam unethical SEO techniques:
Meta refresh tags Invisible text and overuse of tiny text Irrelevant keywords in the title and meta tags Excessive repetition of keywords Overuse of mirror sites (same sites that point to different URLs) Submitting too many pages in one day Identical or nearly identical pages Submitting to an inappropriate category (for directories)

Frames and others...
Although search engines won't penalize for the use of frames, dynamic content and multimedia files, they will have difficulty indexing them.

Design and frames are supposed to make navigation easier by keeping a part of a site constant, while opening links in another part. However, frames have become a problem for web masters and users alike. There are numerous issues to consider: Printing a document is harder Book marking is problematic Most search engines don't index them Some people still use browsers that don't support frames Say "No" to frames! Frames make your life more difficult, so why use them? If you can avoid using frames, do so. This will save you a lot of headache. You won't have to worry about search engines being unable to index your site. If you do use frames... If you do decide to use frames, you will need to make an extra effort to be indexed by search engines. Most search engines don't index content in frames. To deal with these engines, use the following tag:

Most important information about your site and links to frame-free pages Problem with dynamic generated sites

Web Sites with Dynamic created pages also block Web crawlers.
While it's great to give visitors unique experiences, tailored to their needs, the techniques you use to do that could stop search engines from indexing your content and hence could greatly reduce your potential traffic. Dynamically generated pages are created on the fly from a variety of elements held in databases. Typically such pages have a question mark (?) in the URL (or not). When a search engine crawler arrives at such a page, it captures the content but halts immediately, and will not follow the Links, because it sees ahead of it an infinite number of pages -- a black hole that would bring it to a crash. !!!!! Suggestion create a static index page and add in the Meta tag a robots tag with following text * Index, nofollow *

Ranking factors
Search engines are different Every search engine has its own algorithm - a formula for indexing and scoring web sites. Search engines attempt to give their visitors most relevant results by constantly improving their formulas. They analyze page elements and other factors to determine what combination is best for most appropriate results. Search engines form partnerships and buy technologies to improve their algorithms. They combine many factors with a different weight placed on each one.

Page-related ranking factors
These factors include: Title tag Keyword frequency, weight, prominence and proximity Meta tags ALT tags Comment tags URL names Alphabetical placement

Title Tag
What is an HTML Title and why should I use it? HTML Title describes the contents of your web page in one sentence. This title is most likely to appear in search engines' results and in bookmarks. It is also the first thing that a spider sees on your page. Therefore, the title has dual importance since it will be seen by both people and search engines. HTML Title looks like this: Your title here It is the most important part of your page as far as search engines are concerned. Note that every search engine supports the Title tag. Here are a few tips on how to make you title tag more appealing to both search engines and people. Add keywords to your title, never use only a company name ! Length of your title is limited to about 75 characters

Using the Meta Description tag
The meta description tag describes your site's content, giving the reader and the search engine an accurate summary filled with multiple keywords. Meta tags are hidden in the document's source, invisible to the readers. Some search engines, however, are able to use meta tags as a part of their algorithm. Engines do not penalize those who use meta tags properly, so it's recommended that you always include them. A meta description tag can boost your rankings on some engines. Use it on all pages Limit it to 150 characters Should contain keywords shouldn't repeat more than 7 times

Using the Meta Keywords tag
A meta keyword tag summarizes all the keywords that you would like to be found under for search engines. Meta tags are hidden in the document's source, invisible to the reader. Some search engines, however, do see and use them as a part of their algorithm. Engines do not penalize those who use meta tags properly, so it's recommended that you always include them on your pages Avoid the use of spam Avoid repeating keywords more than 3-7 times; you can get penalized for that. Repetitions up to 3 times are recommended, just don't place them one after the other. Provides a list of keywords Limit it to 1024 characters List keywords in order of importance Don't repeat the same keyword more than 7 times

Using ALT tags
Since search engines don't index images, they can't index all the text that your web site has in image format. To fix this problem, there are ALT tags, which are basically images' descriptions. ALT tags are an excellent way of dealing with images, but they're not the solution. Not all engines are capable of reading ALT tags. Engines such as Excite, Inktomi and Northern Light don't pay any attention to them. However, you will never be penalized for the use of ALT tags. Avoiding the use of spam Search engines do not penalize for ALT tags, or for a certain amount of keywords in ALT tags. There's a general rule of not repeating keywords more than 3-7 times. Although this rule is not specific to ALT tags, better safe than sorry. Describe images Add more keywords Should be used for each image Make site accessible to visually impaired Keywords should not be repeated more than 7 times

Using Comment Tags
Comment tags are not visible to the reader because they are hidden in the HTML code. They provide a way for the web master to make notes right on the page. Although the reader doesn't see these tags, some search engines, such as Inktomi, can index them. Therefore, comment tags are another great way to add keywords to your page, thus increasing keyword frequency, an important factor in many ranking algorithms. Avoid the use of spam Search engines do not penalize for the use of comment tags. However, the general rule is not to repeat the same keyword more than 3-7 times. So, to be on the safe side, follow that rule in comment tags. Place them on every single page Add keywords to comment tags Place them after meta tags in the head Do not repeat keywords more than 7 times

Keywords in the URL name
What is a URL name? The URL name is the name of the site, such as search engines. Although the whole URL would look like this: http://www.seoinc.com, the part that the search engines are interested in is "search engines." Recently, search engines started to use keywords in the URL as a part of their ranking formula. One of the search engines that uses it is Google. Google is extremely important because Yahoo! selected it as a provider of their non-directory search results. Google's ranking formula should receive more attention than ever because Yahoo! accounts for at much as 50% of traffic to many sites. Name files with keywords Consider alphabetical priority Look for a URL name with keywords in it Search engines and themes

Search engines and themes
A theme is defined by search engines as a common topic throughout the site. In an effort to provide their users with more relevant information, search engines developed sophisticated technology that "extracts" site's themes. This technology allows results to be more focused on the topic searched for. Hint: Think of themes as your most important keywords. Themes technology is quite complex. It's used by some of the major search engines when indexing and ranking sites. Currently, Excite, AltaVista, Lycos and Google use themes as part of their formulas. Inktomi will soon join them. That will include AOL, HotBot, iWon, LookSmart, MSN and NBCi. The purpose of themes is to look at the bigger picture, not just the parts. To determine a theme spiders index the whole site and then analyze its HTML. Factors analyzed are: HTML title, meta tags, headings, text on the site, and links. Spiders use technologies such as keyword weighting, extrapolation and root stemming to determine a theme. Excite, AltaVista, Lycos and Google use them Inktomi should be joining soon Determined by keywords in title, meta tags, text and links

Link Popularity
Link popularity is much more than a number of links that point to a site. Search engines have been able to come up with sophisticated formulas that go beyond numbers. Link popularity and the quality of links, are currently determined by the following three factors Number of Links - The more, the better. Although having several irrelevant links are not as effective as relevant ones, it's better than nothing. Inktomi, a provider of search results to engines like HotBot, still values the number of links more than anything else. Relevance - Search engines want links from pages that are relevant to your site. This can include your competition, supplier, or anyone else in the same category. Google measures relevance through its Page Rank formula, along with other engines such as HotBot and AltaVista. This lets people, rather than meta tags, determine how high a page ranks. If a similar site links to you, they probably found your content to be interesting. Link text - This refers to text used in a link, the text that people will click. For example: seoinc.com or Search engine optimization or Click here all links to the same place, but use different text. Obviously, the use of keywords in the description of a links is beneficial.

Site Popularity
Any web master trying to achieve top search engine placement has to be familiar with Direct Hit technology. Direct Hit is currently used by over 25 engines including: Lycos, Infoseek, HotBot, MSN, InfoSpace and About.com. Direct Hit technology, which measures click popularity and stickiness, claims to let users, rather than engines and editors, organize search results What is click popularity and stickiness? Click popularity and stickiness are two factors used in Direct Hit's ranking formula. Click popularity measures the number of clicks every site in the search engine results page receives. Let's say that 20 people search for "puppy food." If all of them click on the same page, Direct Hit assumes that the page has more relevance and it will be scored higher next time. Stickiness measures the amount of time that a user stays on a site. This is measured by the time between clicks on the results page. Measures click popularity and stickiness Ranks clicks for low scoring sites higher Allows people to participate in ranking pages Can be spammed

Final Checklist
My pages are ready ? You've been hard at work optimizing your pages. You learned all there is to know about search engine ranking formulas. Use this checklist to see if all of your pages are optimized: Checklist for optimization HTML Title Your title contains properly placed keywords Meta tags Use the meta description and keyword tags on every page Keyword prominence, density, proximity, frequency Few of the most important elements Keywords in the URL or file names Name your files with keywords Alt tags Search engines don't index images Link popularity Most search engines use it as a factor Themes One of the latest technologies that search engines use Design Your site should be fast, pleasant, clean and easy to navigate No Spam or frames

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