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Search Engine Positioning

If you are at all interested in generating traffic to your site, this is
an absolutely critical issue to learn something about. It is so
important in fact, that I will discuss it and other techniques for
generating traffic, over several issues of this newsletter.

I have read from several sources that some major sites generate up
to 50% of their traffic from good Search Engine positioning.
Personally I find this hard to believe or an indication that the site is
already so popular that visitors are simply searching for the URL
of a site they already intend to visit. (Search: DISNEY, Result:

www.disney.com) Since few of us have Disney's name recognition or
our users are not inclined to type our corporate name with a www
in front and a .com at the end, general positioning by subject on the
major search engines can play a significant role in generating
traffic. (there are others methods to be discussed in later issues).

As of writing this newsletter, if you search for "DHTML" or
"Dynamic HTML" on Alta Vista, the Virtual Mechanics site will
come up #1. How did we do it? The fact is by the time you receive
this e-mail we may have slipped to 10, 20 or below. Hopefully our
position on Hot Bot or another search engine will mysteriously
climb to help gain some of the losses from a slip somewhere else.
The fact is, the algorithms used to position a web site probably
generate a result that is as mysterious to the techies running the
search engine as they are to anyone else. If not, I suspect that even
they would have a hard time predicting which sites are going to
end up on top. (excluding GoTo were you pay for your position)

Having stated there is no way to assure a top ranking on a search
engine, there are certainly many things you can do to give yourself
an edge and improve your position. The most important of these is
to make effective use of the HTML Meta Tags. These tags are
placed in the HEAD of a web page and provide many of the search
engine spiders (Spiders!!! ...a topic for another issue) with much of
the information they use to rank your web site. If you check the
http://www.VirtualMechanics.com web page (or just about
any other page on our site) and use the View Source command,
you will see the Meta Tags at the top of the page. To make it easy,
we will disable the SSI DHTML ERROR 402 system just this

Note that there is a TITLE tag followed by three META tags.

The TITLE tag is used to provide a title for your page. It is a bit
like the title of a book but since it is used by some search engines
as the sole description, you should probably view it more like a
banner add for your site.

The Meta Description tag is more often used to describe the
contents of your site. It is often listed by the search engines below
the Title. Since it may also be used to help rank your site, you
should probably use short descriptive phrases that will both help
categorize your site and persuade a potential visitor.

The Meta Keywords tag is probably the most important. This is a
list of words and phrases that are used to match people's search
phrases and words. If for example, you have entered the keywords:
"blue cheese, festival, party" and some one does a search for "blue
cheese party" then you will have a match and a possible aromatic
visitor. If you are offering a service such as Web Page Design and
you enter keywords such as "Web, Page, Design" and a search is
made for "Web Page Design" then you will also have a probable
match, but so will 250,000 other sites. Obviously getting a good
ranking will require more effort. We will also revisit these issues in
later newsletters.

The last tag is the Meta Generator. This is used to simply identify
the authoring program which is ignored by the search engines.

Both IMS Web Engine and IMS Web Spinner will automatically
create a Title and Meta Tags for your page. Unfortunately, these
auto generated tags are not going to do you much good since the
program knows little about your site. Fortunately, if you have not
already discovered it, you can define these tags from within the
program. Enter the Page Dialog (Sunset Button) and select the
Title tab. If you need to you can read the dialog Help for more info
on interring Meta Tags. Every time you Publish your project, these
Meta Tags will be included and hopefully your Search Engine
positioning will start to improve.

"IMS Web Tips" ISSN 1488-7088
© Copyright 1999 Virtual Mechanics

"IMS Web Tips" is a weekly news letter for all web site managers regardless of experience who are looking for detailed information on
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