is time to put your keywords to good use and optimize your Web site.
In this issue we will look at the criticial keyword placement areas
of a Web page. Today, page content, page titles, and link popularity
built on a quality Web site as a foundation rules the search engine
world; however, with the recent changes at Yahoo! it is likely we will
see resurgence in the need to pay careful attention to the lowly Keywords
Meta tag once more.
that the keywords you are going to incorporate in your Web site are
the natural language terms your target market will be using to locate
your business online. A key point to be taken from the last statement
is to not obsess over jamming any keyword you can get your mitts on
into a page just because you can – focus on being “natural”
and speak to your target market as you would like to be spoken too.
Drones of repetitive keywords that read like a laundry list is ineffective.
Tips & Techniques
There is no hard and fast rule on how many times to use a keyword phrase
or how many keywords to use, but a good rule of thumb is to focus on
2 or 3 keywords phrases per page. A good method of determining the best
fit on a page for a keyword phrase is to observe what the top ranked
Web sites are doing. Look at your competitor’s use of keywords
(where they use them and how many times), their overall word count on
the page, whether or not they use headers, page titles, keywords in
or around hypertext links, their link popularity and so on. Look for
themes; to better the competition you must understand them.
having been said, here are the most important areas on a Web page that
you must address when performing organic search engine optimization:
Title Tags (Page Titles)
Keywords Meta Tags
Description Meta Tags
Domain Names and Filenames
Body Text (Page Copy, Headers)
page title, Keywords Meta tag, and Description Meta tag all rest within
the <HEAD> area of the HTML source. An oversimplified version
might look like:
<TITLE>This is a Title Tag</TITLE>
<meta name="description" content="This is a description
meta tag. ">
<meta name="keywords" content="This, is, a, keywords,
begin our coverage with Page Titles.
It is extremely important that all web pages have titles. Title tags
are viewed as the most important element of search engine optimization
when it comes to keyword placement.
tags are inserted in the header portion of your HTML document. The title
identifies and describes your pages and is typically displayed on the
top line of your web browsing screen, in your favourites when you bookmark
a site, or as what your target market sees in search results in some
of the major search engines. In the image below a typical search result
consists of the title tag as the link to the Web site, a brief description
of the web site, and the URL.
The Title Tag of a Web site appears as the
first line of information about a Web site.
Every page of your Web site should have a unique title tag and each
title tag should accurately describe the page content. Your target market
should be able to read the title tag and understand what the page they
are about to view contains.
your title tags brief; in the realm of 5 to 10 words. The longer your
title tag is the more diluted your keywords become and the more likely
your title tag is to be truncated by a search engine. Notice in Figure
that the last search result’s title ends in “…”.
This occurs because Google only displays up to 66 characters. Yahoo!
on the other hand will permit up to 120 characters for a title tag.
Presently Google and Yahoo! are the two most important search engines
so you can use their requirements as a proxy when designing your title
your most important keyword phrases first, within Google’s 66
character range. Overspill or less important keywords can run into the
excess space Yahoo! affords. By including your most important keywords
first you secure their position for use by the search engines. It is
best to keep a nice flow to the choice of words as people are more likely
to click on a flowing description for a page title than a list of words
when selecting your site from the search results.
shorter and more accurate the title tag is, the higher the keyword density
and relevancy for that title tag. Try to keep your use of a keyword
phrase to a single instance if possible, unless the title tag truly
warrants duplication. In the case of a hotel, the word ‘hotel’
might appear twice in a title as a formality for the hotel’s proper
company name and in relation to a descriptive term such as a targeted
Keywords Meta Tag
At one time the keywords Meta tag was used to tell search engines under
which keywords to index your site. When a user types one of the words
you have listed in your keywords Meta tag then theoretically your site
should be displayed as a result. A majority of search engines no longer
reference the keywords Meta tag; however, it still *may* serve a purpose
for some search engines in that it *might* help leverage your rankings
a bit on those engines that do still use it.
you are going to include the Keywords Meta tag on your Web site be sure
to keep the content related to the page at hand, separate words with
either a space or a coma, and do not be over-repetitious with keywords
– in fact, around 15 or so non-repeating words is all you need
as a guideline. You do have the option of using upwards of 1000 characters
in your keywords Meta tag, but be wary of keyword dilution.
Description Meta Tag
The description Meta tag should be included on every page of your Web
site. The description Meta tag is used to supply an accurate overview
of the page to which it is attached. The description Meta tag can influence
the description in the search engines that support them.
is best to keep the description Meta tag to somewhere in the realm of
200 to 250 characters in total. Be sure to use the same keywords applied
elsewhere on the page being optimized in the description Meta tag for
consistency and relevancy; however, do not duplicate your Title Tag
in your description Meta tag or you may run the risk of being accused
of keyword stacking. Also, it helps to include a call to action encouraging
the target market to visit your Web site or some other action.
Some search engines use the information within Alt tags when forming
a description and determining the ranking for your site. Alt tags are
used to display a description of the graphic it is associated with if
the graphic cannot be displayed, such as in text only browsers. It is
vital that your Alt tags contain descriptive keywords as opposed to
generic words such as “company logo” or “banner”.
Alt Tag should look something like the following:
<image src=”images/logo.gif” height=”50”
width =”50” alt=”Travel Nation – Tourism Map
A hypertext link consists of the description of a link placed in between
is an example of an absolute link, where the link includes the total
path to where the document can be found:
is a sample link</A>
is an example of a relative link:
href="samplepage.html">This is a sample link</A>
text inside of a hyper link, or anchor text, is increasingly important
for search engine optimization. The major search engines give weight
to content in and around text links because Web sites typically link
to other related Web sites that the target market is interested in so
there is a strong relevancy pattern. Good places to use links include
the primary and sub-navigation aspects of a Web site as well as to external
resources from within the page copy.
Domain Name and Filenames
Use of keywords within your domain name and file names can arguably
help with search engine positioning.
professionals argue that including dashes to separate keywords makes
it easier for search engines to distinguish keywords, which can help
boost your rankings. Personal experience leads me to believe that if
it actually does make a difference, the difference is so little that
you are better off spending your time optimizing your Web site in areas
that really count. This also applies to filenames.
you have specific documents such as an image you want to be found in
an image search then be sure to name them accordingly with appropriate
keywords. Likewise, it does not take much effort to give your Web pages
The body text of a Web page consists of all the visible text between
the <body> and </body> tag, such as headings and the page
copy encased in paragraphs. Body text and Title Tags are the two most
important areas to focus your search engine optimization efforts so
this is where you want to spend the bulk of your time.
- <H1>Header Tags</H1>
Use your HTML <H1>headers</H1> effectively to indicate the
subject and content of a particular page. Most people use them only
as a method of creating large fonts. Some search engines, including
Google, use the content included within the header text in their relevancy
scoring. The H1 tag is the most important followed by H2. Include your
most important keywords in your header tags. If you can, work a couple
of H2 tags into your page to sort content and improve the relevancy
of your page.
example of a <H1> tag is:
is a header tag</H1>
example of a <H2> tag is:
is another header tag</H2>
You want to ensure that the keyword you have assigned to a specific
page appears in the first 200 characters on that page as close to the
beginning as possible. The higher up on a page the greater the keyword
prominence. Search engines tend to lend more weight to page content
above the fold. The fold is where your browser window ends and where
vertical scrolling begins, if necessary.
assigned keyword should appear at the beginning of the text on the page,
in the middle and at the end. You want to build a theme on your page
and to do so you have to spread your keywords throughout the page, not
just focus on the first paragraph.
have a descriptive paragraph at the top of your Web page that describes
what can be found on the page for your target market and for the major
search engines. Search engines will weight this as their source for
a site description and keywords on your site. In addition, search engines
will use the content found within the opening paragraph in influencing
the ranking of your site among search results. Again, be sure to use
the most important keywords first, preferably within the first two or
three sentences. This is hugely important. Make sure that the keywords
you use flow naturally within the content of the opening paragraph and
relate to the content and purpose of your site. You don’t want
the search engines to think you’re trying to cram in words where
they don’t fit.
you can tell, textual HTML content is extremely important to the search
engines, which brings me to my next point. Never create a page that
is excessive in graphical content. For example, don’t display
information that should be displayed in text as a graphic file. I’ve
seen this done numerous times. A site may have the best opening statement
in the world, but the search engines can’t use it because the
information is presented in the form of a graphic. No matter how great
it looks, the search engines can’t read your graphics for content.
not make your home page excessively lengthy. The longer your page is,
the less relevant the information on the page becomes to the search
engines. I recommend that you keep your home page short and to the point.
A page consisting of between 250 and 800 words will provide the major
search engines with the information they need.
things like how often you update your site can have an effect on how
well your site places in search engine results. Spiders can determine
how often a page is updated and will revisit your site accordingly.
This may lead to higher rankings in some of the major search engines.
Fresh content is good for your target market and for search engine rankings.
After all, who wants to view stale content?
a final note, before you submit your site, be sure the content on the
page you are submitting is complete. Yahoo!, for one, will ignore your
submission if you have an “under construction” or similar
sign on your page.
not get too muddled down in the science of search engine optimization.
No two search engines are identical so if you spend all of your time
tailoring your site for just one engine you may have many missed opportunities
on your hand. You will generally do just fine if your application of
relevant keywords is related to your page at hand, tied together with
the different elements that make-up a Web page, and are used consistently
and creatively enough to build a theme. A tool such as Web Position
Gold (http://www.webposition.com/) can assist you in analyzing your
pages for keyword density and relevancy.
engine optimization is not all about where you place keywords on your
Web site. In the next issue of this series I will cover what not to
do (e.g. frames, Meta refresh) when optimizing your Web site as well
as cover other techniques (e.g. applicable of Robots.txt) that can help
you with optimizing your Web site.
Tools & Resources
For a refresher or if you missed the first two newsletters in the Search Engine Optimization series you can view them in the archive on by Web site at:
Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 1
Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 2
Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 3
Link popularity is a closely related topic and I advise you to review the article on my Web site at:
Visit my Web site at http://www.susansweeney.com