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Search Engine Optimization : SEO BOOK.

Chapter 5


Creating Pages That Search Engines Love

Preparing Your Site
When creating a Web site, the first thing to consider is where to put your site. By that, I mean the Web server and the domain name.
Finding a Hosting Company : Although many large companies place their Web sites on their own web servers, most companies don't do this - shouldn't do this. There's simply no way you can do it anywhere near as cheaply and reliably as a good hosting company can do it. They place their sites on servers owned by a hosting company. Although they have to take inconsideration many different factors when selecting a hosting company. While looking for a hosting company, make sure that it offers the following features:

· Allow you to upload Web pages that you have created all by your lone some. Some services provide simple tools you can use to   create Web pages; it's fine if they provide these tools as long as you also have the ability to create pages yourself. You must have   control over the HTML in your pages.
· Provides an access-log-analysis tool or, if you plan to use your own analysis tool, a way to get to the raw access logs. A log-analysis tool shows you how many people visit your site and how they get there.
· Allows you to use your own domain name. Don't get an account in which you have a subdirectory of the hosting company's domain   name.

Picking a Domain Name : Google actually reads URLs, looking for keywords in them. For instance, if you have a Web site with the domain name rodent - racing.com and someone searches at Google for rodent racing, Google sees rodent-racing.com as a match. Because a dash appears between the two words, Google recognizes the words in the domain name. If however you use an underscore or some other character or if you run the words together, Google doesn't see the words in the URL. So putting keywords into the domain name and separating keywords with dashes do provide a small benefit. Another advantage to adding dashes between words is that it's relatively easy to come up with a domain name that's not already taken. Furthermore, the search engines don't care what first-level domain you use: you can have a .com, .net, .biz, .tv, or whatever; it doesn't matter. In search engine optimization field, it has become popular to use dashes and keywords in domain names, but the lift provided by keywords in domain important factors when choosing a domain name :


· A domain name should be short, easy to spell, and easy to remember. And it should pass the "radio" test. Imagine you are being interviewed on the radio and want to tell listeners your URL. You want something that you can say that is instantly understandable, without having to spell it. You don't want to have to say "rodent dash racing dash events dot com"; it's better to be able to say "rodent racing events dot com."
· In almost all cases, you should get the .com version of a domain name. If the .conversion is taken do not try to use the .net or .org version for branding purposes! People remember .com, even if you say .org or .net or whatever, so if you are planning to promote your web site in print, on the radio, on TV, on billboards, and so on, you need the .com version. Are keyworded domain names worth the trouble? Because the lift provided by keywords in the domain name is rather small - and in fact, putting too many keywords into a name can actually hurt your placement - its probably better to focus on a single, brandable domain name. Don't use a domain-forwarding service for Web sites you want to turn up in the search engines. Many registrars now allow you to simply forward browsers to a particular site. Such forwarding systems often use the site properly. Your site should be properly configured by using the name server settings, not a simple forward.

Understanding what a Search Engine Sees
What a search engine sees when it loads one of your pages is not the same as what your browser sees. To understand why, you need to understand how a Web page is created.
· A user types a URL into his browser, or clicks a link, causing the browser to send a messages to the Web server asking for a   particular page.
· The Web server grabs the page and quickly reads it to see if it needs to do anything to the page before sending it.
· The Web server compiles the page, if necessary.
· After the server has completed any instructions, it sends the page to the browser.
· When the browser receives the page, it reads through the page looking for instructions and, if necessary, further compiles the    page.
· When it's finished, the browser displays the page for the user to read.
  Here are a few examples of instructions the browser may receive:
· It may find a <SCRIPT> tag, telling it to a load a JavaScript from another file - it must then request this file from the Server.
· It may find JavaScripts embedded into the file, in which case it runs those scripts.
· It may find references to images or other forms o media, and have to pull those into the page and read CSS instructions to see   how the text should be formatted.
  Asp and PHP scripts are little programs that are written into web pages. The scripts are read by a program working inassociation   with the Web server when a page is requested. The searchbots see the results of the scripts because the scripts have been run by   the time the Web server sends the page. Server side includes are simple statements placed into the HTML pages that name   another file and, in effect, say to the Web server, "Grab the information in this file and drop it into the Web page here." Again, the   searchbots see the information in the SSI because the Web server inserts the information before sending the Web page.

Understanding Keyword Concepts
Here's the basic concept: you are putting keywords into your Web pages in such a manner that the search engines can get to them, can read them, and will regard them as significant. The keywords you pick should be either:
· Words near the top of the list that have many searches.
· Words lower down on the list that you feel may be worth targeting because you have relatively few competitors.

Picking one or two phrases per page
You are going to optimize each page for one or two keyword phrases. By optimize, to create the page in such a manner that it has a good change of ranking well for the chosen keyword phrase or phrases, when someone actually uses them in a search engine. You cant optimize a page well for more than one keyword phrase at a time. The TITLE tag is one of the most important components on a Web page, and the best position for a keyword is right at the beginning of that tag. And only one phrase can be placed at the beginning of the tag, right? Have a primary and a secondary keyword phrase in mind for each page you are creating, but also consider all the keywords you are interested in working into the pages.

Checking For Keyword Prominence
The term prominence refers to where the keyword appears - how prominent it is within a page component. A word near the top of the page is more prominent than one near the bottom; a word at the beginning of a TITLE tag is more prominent than one at the end; a word at the beginning of the DESCRIPTION meta tag is more prominent than one at the end; and so on.Prominence is good. If you are creating a page with a particular keyword or keyword phrase in mind, make that term prominent - in the body text, in the TITLE tag, in the DESCRIPTION meta tag, and elsewhere - to convey to the search engines that the keyword phrase is important in this particular page. Consider this title tag:
<TITLE> Everything about Rodents - Looking after Them, Feeding Them, Rodent Racing, and more </TITLE>
When you read this, you can see that Rodent Racing is just one of several terms the page is related to. The search engine comes to the same conclusion because the term the page is related to. The search engine comes to the same conclusions because the term is at the end of the title, meaning it's probably not the predominant term. But what about the following tag?
<TITLE>Rodent Racing - Looking after Your Rodents, Feeding them, Everything You need to Know</TITLE>
Place Rodent Racing at the beginning of the tag places the stress on that concept more; the search engines are likely to conclude that the page is mainly Rodent Racing.

Watch Your Keyword Density
Another important concept is keyword density. When a user searches for a keyword phrase, the search engine looks at all the pages contain the phrase and checks the density - the ratio of the search phrase to the total number of words in the page. For instance, suppose that you search for rodent racing and the search engine finds a page that contains 400 words, with the phrase rodent racing appearing 10 times - that's a total of 20 words. Because 20 is 5 percent of 400,the keyword density is 5 percent. Keyword density is important, but you can overdo it. If the search engine finds that the search phrase makes up50% of the words in the page, it may decide that the page was created purely to grab the search engine's attention for that phrase and then ignore it. On the other had, if the density is too low, you risk having the search engines regard other pages as more relevant for the search.

Place Keywords Throughout Your Site
Suppose that someone searches for rodent racing, and the search engine finds two sites that use the term. One site has a single page in which the term occurs, and the other site has dozens of pages containing the term. Which site will the search engine think is most relevant? The one that has many pages related to the subject, of course. Some search engines - such as Google - often provide two results from a site, one indented below the other. So if your site has one page related to the subject, this cant happen. In most cases, you are likely to grab a top position simply by creating a single page optimized for the keyword phrase. You may need dozens, perhaps hundreds, of pages to grab the search engines attention.

Creating Your Web Pages
When you are creating your web pages, you need to focus on two essential elements: They are

· Filenames: The Search Engines do get clues about the nature of a site from the site's domain name as well as from the site's directory structure. The added "lift" is probably not large, but every little bit counts, right? You might as well name directories, Web pages and images by using keywords. So e.g. rather than creating a file name gb123.jpg, you can use a more descriptive name, such as rodent-racing-scores. jpg. Don't have too many dashes in the filenames, though - don't use more than a couple - because the search engine is likely to ignore the name, if not penalize the page .You can separate keywords in a name with dashes or periods, but not under scores. Search engines also see the/symbol in a URL as a separator.
· Directory Structure: It may be a good idea to keep a flat directory structure in you web site - keep your pages as close to the root domain as possible, rather than have a complicated multilevel directory tree. Create a directory for each navigation tab and keep all the files in that directory. Most search engines spiders have difficulty finding pages that are two directory levels or deeper within your site, and many observers believe that search engines downgrade pages that are lower down in the directory structure. This effect is probably relatively small, but in general, you are better off using a structure with two or three sublevels, rather than five or ten. For instance, the first page that follows would be weighted more highly than the second page:
http://www.domainname.com/dir1/page.html
http://www.domainname.com/dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/page.html

· The TITLE Tags: Most search engines use the site's TITLE tag as the link and main title of the site's listing on the search results page, TITLE tags not only tell a browser what text to display in the browser's title bar, but they are also very important for search engines. Searchbots read the page titles and use the information to determine what the pages are about. If you have a keyword between your TITLE tags competing pages don't have, you have a good chance of getting at or near the top of the search results. The TITLE is one of the most important components as far as search engines are concerned. However, these tags are usually wasted because few sites bother placing useful keywords in them. Give the search engines a really strong clue about your site's content by using a keyword phrase in the TITLE tags. Here's how:
Place Your TITLE tags below the <HEAD> tag.
Place 40 to 60 characters between the <TITLE> and </TITLE> tags
Put the keyword phrase you want to focus on for this page at the very beginning of the TITLE.
Here is an example TITLE:
<TITLE> Rodent Racing Info. Rats,Mice,Gerbils,Stoats, all kinds of Rodent Racing </TITLE>
The TITLE and often the DESCRIPTION appear on the search results page. So your TITLE and DESCRIPTION should encourage people to visit your site.

· The DESCRIPTION meta tag : Meta tags re special HTML tags that can be used to carry information, which can then be read by browsers or other programs. When search engines began, Webmasters included meta tags in their pages to make it easy for search engines to determine what the pages were about. Search engines also used these meta tags when deciding how to rank the page for different keywords. The DESCRIPTION meta tags describes the Web page to the search engines. The search engines use this meta tags two ways:
They read and index the text in the tag.
In many cases, they use the text verbatim in the search results page. That is, if your web is
returned in the search results page, the search engine grabs the text from the DESCRIPTION tag
and places the text from the TITLE tag so the searcher can read your description.
In most cases, Google doesn't use the text from the DESCRIPTION meta tag in its search results page. Rather, Google grabs a block of text near where it found the search keywords on the page, and then uses that text in the results page.Using the DESCRIPTION meta tag is important for the following reasons:
· Sometimes Google does use the DESCRIPTION you provide. If it cant find the keywords in the page, it uses the description.
· Google, and other search engines, do index the DESCRIPTION.
· Other search engines use the DESCRIPTION tag.

The Keywords meta tag
The KEYWORDS meta tag was originally created as an indexing tool; a way for the page author to tell search engines what the page is about by listing, yep, keywords. Although quite important in the past, this meta tag isn't as important these days. Some search engines do use it, but many don't. You have a list of keywords, after all. Here are a few points to consider:
· Limit the Tag 10 to 12 words
· You can separate each keyword with a comma and a space.
· Make sure that most of the keywords in the tag are also in the body text.
· Don't use a lot of repitition.
· Some search engines are case sensitive, so its probably a good idea to lowercase your keywords
· Don't use the same KEYWORD tag in all your pages.
Here's an example of a well-constructed KEYWORD tag:
<META NAME ="keywords" CONTENT="rodent racing, racing rodents, gerbils, mice, mose, raceing, mouse, rodent races, rat races, mouse races, stoat, stoat racing">

Other meta tags
What about other meta tags? Sometimes if you look at the source of a page, you see all sorts of meta tags, meta tags are useful for various reasons, but from a search engine perspective, you can forget almost all of them.
You have heard about DESCRIPTION and KEYWORDS meta tags, but also of relevance to search engine optimization are the REVISIT-AFTER and ROBOTS meta tags:
· REVISIT-AFTER is intended to tell search engines how often to reindex the page. Save the electrons; don't expect search engines   to follow your instructions. Search engines reindex pages on their own schedules.
· ROBOTS is used to block search engines from indexing pages. But many Web authors use it to tell search engines to index a page.   Here's an example:
<META NAME="robots" CONTENT="ALL">

Image ALT Text
You use the <IMG> tag to insert images into Web pages. This tag can include the ALT= attribute, which means alternative text. ALT text was originally text that was displayed if the browser viewing the page could not display images. These days, the Alt text is also used by programs that speak the page. Alt tags are also read by search engines. Why? Because these tags offer another clue about the content of the web page. How much do Alt tags help? Almost not at all these days, because some Web designers have abused the technique by stuffing ALT attributes with tons of keywords. But using ALT tags cant hurt and may even push your page up a little in the search engine rankings. You can place keywords in your ALT attributes like this:
<IMG SRC="rodent-racing-1.jpg" ALT="Rodent Racing - Ratty winners of our latest Rodent Racing event">

Flush the Flash Animation
Using flash animations sometimes make sense, but usually it doesn't. many web designers place fancy flash animations on their home pages just to make them look coo. But rarely do these animations serve any purpose beyond making site visitors wait a little longer to get into the site. Some search engines can now read and index Flash stuff, but generally Flash animations don't contain any useful text fro indexing. So if you include flash on your home page, the most important page on your site, the page is worthless from a search engine perspective. Most flash animations automatically forward the browser to the next page - the real home page - after they have finished running. If you do decide to include flash, make sure that you include a clearly visible Skip Intro link somewhere on the page.

Don't Embeded Text in the Images
Many sites use images heavily. The overuse of images is often the sign of an inexperienced Web designer, in particular one who is very familiar with graphic-design tools - perhaps a graphic artist who has accidentally un into some Web business. Such designers often create their entire pages ina graphic-design program, including the text, and then save images and insert them into the web page. The advantage of this approach is that it gives the designer much more control over the appearance of the page - and is often much faster - than using HTML to lay out a few images and real text. But this approach has significant drawbacks. Such pages transfer across the Internet much more slowly, and because the pages contain no real text, the search engines don't have anything to index.

Adding Body Text
You need text in your page. How much ? More than a little, but not too much. May be 100 to 250 words are good. Don't get too hung up on these numbers. The amount of content allows you to really define what the page is about and will help the search engine understand what the page is about. Keep in mind that a web site needs content in order to be noticed by the search engines. If the sites have not much content for the search engines to read, the search engine will have trouble determining what the page is about and may not properly rank it. In effect the pages loses points in the contest for search engine ranking. Certainly keywords in contents are not all there is to being ranked in the search engines; linking the pages is also very important. But keywords in content are very significant, so the search engines have a natural bias toward websites with a large amount of content.

Creating Headers: CSS Vs. <H> tags
Earlier the designer had no way to define what the page actually looked like. These days, designers have a great tool available to them: Cascading Style Sheets(CSS). With CSS, designers can define exactly what each element should look like on a page.now here is the problem. HTML has several tags that define headers: <H1>, <H2>, <H3> and so on. These headers are useful in search engine optimization, because when you put keywords into a heading, you are saying to a search engine, "these keywords are so important that they appear in my heading text." Search engines pay more attention to them, weighing them more heavily than keywords in body text. But many designers have given up on using the <H> tags and rely solely on CSS to make headers look the way they want them to. The plain <H> tags are often rather ugly when displayed in browsers, so designers don't like to use them. However, there is no reasons why you cant use both <H> tags and cascading Style Sheets, You can use style sheets two basic ways:
· Create a style class and then assign that class to the text you want to format.
· Define the style for a particular HTML tag.
Many designers do the former; they create a style class in the style class in the style sheet, like in the following example:
.headtext {font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-weight:bold;color;#3D3D3D}
Then they assign the style class to a piece of text like this:
<DIV CLASS="headtext"> Rodent Racing for the New Millennium!</div>

Text Formatting
You can also tell the search engine that a particular word might be significant several other ways. Here are a few things you can do to set keywords apart from the other words on the page:
· Make the text bold.
· Make the text italic.
· Use title case for the phrase - that is, the first letter in each word is uppercase, and the other letters are lowercase.
· Put the keywords in bullet lists.
For each page, you have a particular keyword phrase in mind; this is the phrase for which you use the preceding techniques.

Creating Links
Links in your pages serve several purposes for the searchbots:
· They help searchbots find other pages in your site.
· Keywords in links tell search engines about the pages that the links are pointing at.
· Keywords in links also tell the search engines about the page containing the links.
You need link into - and out of - your pages. You don't dangling pages - pages with links into them but no links out. All your pages should be part of the navigation structure. But it's also a good idea to have links within the body text, too. So when you are creating pages, create links on the page to other pages, and make sure that other pages within your site link back to the page you are creating , using the keywords that you have placed in your TITLE. Don't create simple Click Here links or you'll find More Information Here links. These words don't help you. Instead, create links like these:

· For more information, see our rodent-racing scores page.
· Our rodent-racing background page will provide you the information you're looking for.
· Visit our rat events and mouse events pages for more info.
Links are critical. Web developers have played all sorts of tricks with keywords - overloading TITLE tags, DESCRIPTION tags, ALT attributes and so on, - and all these tricks are well known to the search engines and don't do much anymore. The search engines constantly look for new ways to analyze and index pages, and link text is a good way for them to do that. In the same way that it's hard for a web designer to manipulate a TITLE tag - because search engines can easily spot overloading - it's difficult to manipulate link text.

Using Other Company And Product Names
Here's a common scenario. Many of your prospective visitors and customers are searching online for other companies' names, or the names of products produced or sold by other companies. Can you these names in your pages? Yes but be careful how you use them. Many large companies are aware of this practice, and a number of lawsuits have been file that relate to the use of keywords by companies other than the trademark owners. E.g. Playboy Enterprises sued Web sites that were using the terms playboy and playmates through out their pages, site names, domain names and meta tags to successfully boost their positions. Not surprisingly, Playboy won.

So, yes, you can get sued. But then again, you can get sued for anything. If you use product and company names to mislead or misrepresent, you could be in trouble. But you can use the terms in a valid, non fraudulent manner. For instance, you can have a product page in which you compare your products to another, named competitor. Just stuffing a competitor's name into the KEYWORDS tag wont do much for your search engine ranking, although some companies drop competitor's names into the body text in a totally irrelevant way. The bigger debate is the question of whether companies should be allowed to buy keywords related to competing products and companies.

Preparing For Local Search
Some search engines are adding local search capabilities, and such tools will become much more important in the future. Search brings up pages from yellow pages sites and directories of various kinds, but if you have, a retail brick and mortar business, you should try to optimize your pages to give them a chance to appear in such searches. Here are a few ways todo that:
· Include your full address in your Web pages. Although you could put the address in the footer, it's better toput it near the top of the page somewhere.
· Find other reasons to mention the city and zipcode in the body of your text and if possible <H> tags; use bold font on some of the references too.
· Include the full address in your TITLE and DESCRIPTION meta tags.

Creating Navigation Structures that Search Engines Can read
Your navigation structure needs to be visible to the search engines. Here are a few tips for search-engine-friendly navigation.
· If you use Javascript navigation, or some other technique that is invisible, make sure that you have a plain HTML navigation system, too, such basic text links at the bottom of your pages.
· Even if your navigation structure is visible to search engines, you may want to have these bottom-of-page links as well. They are convenient for site visitors and provide another chance for the search engines to find your other pages.
· Add a site map page and link to it from your main navigation. It provides another way for search engines to find all your pages.
· Whenever possible, provide keywords in text links as part of the navigation structure.

Blocking Searchbots
You may want to block particular pages, or even entire areas of your Web site, from being indexed. Here are a few examples of pages or areas you may want to block:
· Pages that are under construction.
· Pages with information that is mainly for internal use.
· Directories in which you store scripts and CSS style sheets.
Using the ROBOTS meta tag or the robots.txt file, you can tell the search engines to stay away. The meta tag looks like this:
<META NAME="robots" CONTENT="noindex , nofollow">
This tag does two thing: noindex means don't index this page, and nofollow means don't follow the links from the page.


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