Virtual Mechanics

Search Engine Positioning. Part Two

Most Web Masters whether they work on their own personal
web site or work on a fortune 500 company web site, are
constantly looking for ways to improve their ranking on the
major Internet Search Engines.  There appears to be no system
to ensuring a top ranking unless you buy it on the GoTo search
engine. Even so, there are many things a Web Manager can do
to significantly improve their position. Last week I talked about
how the Search Engines use Meta Tags to gather information
and rank Web Sites. This week I will talk about some of the
things you need to do  when setting up your Meta Tags and
some of the things you need to consider when composing the
text on your page.

As I mentioned last week, the Page Title,  Meta Description and
Meta Keyword tags are the most important. These tags are
placed between the <HEAD> tags at the top of the HTML

<title>Enter a page title</title>
<META NAME="Description" CONTENT="Enter a page description">
<META NAME="Keywords" CONTENT="Enter, your, search engine, meta tags ">


Both IMS Web Engine and IMS Web Spinner will automatically
generate basic tags. If you are not using IMS products or are
manually editing a web page, change the text between the quotes
following the Description command in the Meta Tags and
between the Title Tags for the page title. In IMS applications, the
Page Title and Meta Tags are entered in the Tile Dialog of the
Page Editor (Sunset Button).

The following suggestions may be helpful when formatting these
1. The title should read like a brief introduction to your company
and page. Try to include the most important keywords from your
web page text. If for example you have a web page for electric train
sets, you may use a title such as:  "Jim's Hobby Shop featuring
Electric Train Sets, games and hobbies for boys and girls of all
ages".  You should limit the title to 69 characters.
2. The Description Tag should be formatted in the same way with
the most important keywords and phrases first. "Electric Train,
game and hobby web site for boys and girls of all ages from Jim's
Hobby Shop".
3. Your Meta Keyword Tag should list all possible combinations
of  keywords and phrases  that may be used to search for your site.
You can be quite liberal here since you have up  to 2000 character
that can be included. List your keywords and phrases separated
by commas and avoid junk words like "Worlds greatest, best" etc.
Use lots of different combinations of your keywords including
common misspellings but do not repeat as this may be interpreted
as spamming and stop the keyword indexing. A good example
would be: "electric train sets, electric trains, train sets, trains,
hobbies, hobby shop, toys, toy shop, games" etc. Keep going
through all possible combinations without repeating yourself. Use
the plural form of words when it makes sense.

One of the most difficult dilemmas I face when it comes time to
compose a web site is deciding how to set up the main page. The
dilemma is whether to create a page that is as esthetically pleasing
and as innovative as possible or to create a page that is going to
be index better by the majority of search engines.  If  Search
Engine positioning is a higher priority, then you will need to set
up a page that includes a reasonable amount of well chosen text.
Most search engines use this text to help categorize and rank
the page. Lycos in particular, requires at least 75 words in order
for your page to be indexed.

The Virtual Mechanics site position improved substantially
shortly after we changed the introduction to:'HTML authoring,
Dynamic HTML, Wysiwyg HTML and Animation Authoring
has never been easier or more affordable. Now you can create
professional Web Pages in minutes.'

Here is another tip for those of you using CSS to dynamically
position elements on your Web Page. This includes everyone
using IMS Web Spinner and IMS Web Engine. The search
engines look at the first 80 or more words on the page. When
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are used, the text positioned at
the top of the page may not necessarily be the text that is first
read in the HTML document. This is because when the
document is published, the text at the back is written first and
the text at the front is written last. The text that you wish the
search engine to find first should consequently be the text
that is 'Behind' all other Objects on the page. In IMS Web
Engine and IMS Web Spinner, you can move an Object to the
back by selecting the Object then selecting the 'Order -To
Back' command in the Arrange menu.

Most search engines will now test pages for spamming and
delist them Here are some things NOT to do:

1. Keyword stuffing. Keywords that are overused by repeating
them too many times in the Meta Tags and text body.
2. Page redirects. Most search engine do not like this. If you
must have one ensure that it has a reasonable delay.
3. Invisible text. Over use of Hidden text or setting text to the
same color as the background so that it can be indexed but
not seen.
4. Small Text. If the print can only be read by a lawyer with a
magnifying glass it will be incarcerated.

I do not personally like some of these restrictions since they
can hinder the legitimate use of effects and features. For
instance, the Virtual Mechanics site initially had a redirect to
another page if a Version 4 or later Browser was detected. This
enabled us to design a DHTML page for those that could see
it and a standard page for Browsers that could not. Concern
about how the search engines would list the page caused us
to remove it.

More about submitting your now correctly formatted site to
the search engines next week.

"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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