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Designing Pages for Search Engines

Introduction

Producing a fabulous Web site will do you no good if no one can find your information. If you've used Web search tools, such as Google and Bing, you know how valuable it is to be highly ranked in an index. Using some simple techniques, you can improve the likelihood that your pages will be!

What are search engines looking for? Probably the biggest factor is frequency and location of key words in text and <meta> tags. The theory is that if a word appears several times and it is close to the top of a page, chances are it is highly relevant. Looking for terms in <meta> description and keyword tags is a method that is used by some, but not all search engines.

Techniques

While not all search engines use the same methods to index a page, if you follow all of the techniques listed below, you will be assured the best results.

  • Use descriptive <title> tags that include possible keywords. The title becomes the link that is displayed in the search results. If you do not have a <title> tag in your page, the page's URL becomes the link
  • Use descriptive text (not graphics) in the first few paragraphs of your page
  • Use descriptive terms for the alternate text description for all your graphics
  • Use <meta> description and keyword tags. If you have a <meta> description it will be used as the summary in the search results. If not, the first few words of text found on the page is displayed
  • Make sure the same keywords are reflected in the body of your page
  • Identify page contents using heading (<h1>, <h2>, etc.) tags
  • Be careful not to repeat the same term too many times (referred to as "spamming") or your page will be penalized
  • Use JavaScript carefully! Text displayed using it is NOT indexed
     

How To

For information about how to add <title> and <meta> tags and alternate text for images using Dreamweaver, see our Online Help Collection.

For information about this using Standard Metadata for CommonSpot pages, see the  Highlights of Standard Metadata (page) section of the Intermediate Training Guide.  

For more extensive information about search engines, connect to Search Engine Watch.

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