"How Search Engines Rank Your Site"
- A search engine can only exist if people come to use it. They will only continue to use it if they find what they are looking for when they do use it. If their viewers don't find what they want when they use a search engine, those viewers will find another search engine which gives them better results.
If a search engine is not used, it will cease to exist.
So the search engines pay attention to what their searchers want, not what the websites they point to want. To try and give their searches the results they are looking for, each search engine uses a secret algorithm that is meant to determine what websites are relevant to the phrase requested.
Although each of the search engines is different, they use basically the following questions / criteria in their equations which determine how relevant your site is to the term the searcher is asking for:
- Is the exact phrase, or at least all the words in the search phrase, in the title of the site?
- Is the exact phrase, or at least all the words in the search phrase, on the page (in a color distinct from the background)?
- Is the exact phrase, or at least all the words in the search phrase, in the description meta tag? --- although only Alta Vista and Inktomi still pay attention to this tag.
- Is the exact phrase, or at least all the words in the search phrase, in all the above places?
- Is the phrase used as a text link to more information?
- Is the phrase in a bold or larger font (i.e. a "header" or "headline" or "subheading")?
- Is the exact phrase, or all the words in the search phrase, used in the above places in a high proportion to the number of words on the page but not so many times as to make it unlikely that the rest of the words add much information on that phrase?
- As a rule of thumb, I try to meet these proportions with the following:
- Use a phrase no more than five-eight times in any one page of the site (including in the title tag).
- Have no more than 200 words on the home page. Inside pages can have more words but even they need to be kept as short as possible. If a lot of information needs to be given out, divide the information into various pages about different aspects of the subject.
- Do not use more than 15 phrases in your keyword meta tag on any one page. These should be misspellings and words and phrases not usually used.
- How many other sites which use this phrase, link to your site? And do those links include the phrase?
- And (lastly & least importantly) is the phrase in the keyword meta tag? (This can only help a little in Alta Vista and Inktomi.)
- Return to Our 13 Lucky Steps to Promting a Website
Send your Comments or Questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This page last updated September 8, 2003