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Improve your search engine placement - Part 2

In previous articles, we have established the requirement not only for listing in the search engines, but also the imperative to be highly listed in them. We discussed, in detail, a strategy for building your Keywords META Tag. If you followed the recommendations and did your research, you now have a list of keywords and a well-written Keywords META Tag. So the next thing to do is go list your site in the search engines, right?

Not exactly. The Keyword META Tag is a good start, but it is not a magic bullet. Without the proper Description META Tag, TITLE Tag and quality content, all of your hard work on your Keywords Tag will be for naught. Let's examine each of these important elements in more detail.

The Title Tag
The Title Tag is used by Alta Vista, Excite, HotBot, InfoSeek, Lycos and Web Crawler all use the TITLE Tag as the title text for your web site listing. The TITLE Tag should contain at least 5 good, descriptive words and not exceed 200 characters. Avoid cliché filler words and phrases such as - Welcome to our Web Site or Our Home on the Web. Did these titles grab your attention? Did they inform you as to what you may find when you visit the site? Probably not. A better choice is to list your businesses name along with your top few keywords. Be careful with your keywords here. Your Title Tag is exactly that, a title, do not try to overload it with information. Instead, use it to capture your potential visitors' attention.

The Description META Tag
The Description META Tag is used by Alta Vista, HotBot, InfoSeek and Web Crawler as the description text for your listing. Ideally, the Description META Tag should contain at least 5 words but not exceed 1000 characters. Be as descriptive as possible within these constraints. To boost your relevancy score, use your Keywords list, always ensuring that your description remains readable.

It is plain to see that your title/description combination is the first impression many potential visitors get of your web site. It is vitally important that your title/description grab their attention in a positive way. Well written Title and Description META Tags should make the potential visitor want to visit your site before visiting the sites of your competitors. Use your best marketing skills here as it is the best free advertising you will ever get.

As mentioned in previous articles, the content of your web pages will play an important part in your search engine placement. I have enjoyed success with two different methods when it comes to content. The first method is to write your page copy utilizing your most important keywords early and often. Most of the search engine relevancy algorithms give a higher ranking to pages that use their keywords as the first few words and then continue to use these words through out the content of the page. While it is important to use your keywords early and often, your copy must be understandable. This is, after all, a sales presentation. What good is it to get a high rating in the search engines and increase your traffic, only to have an unintelligible message for the visitor when they arrive? Do not sacrifice clarity for rankings. If your keywords are really appropriate for your page, you should not have a difficult time working them into your copy.

The second method I call - Less Is More. Be aware, this method is considered by some to be somewhat dishonest. The search engines are getting smart to this method. Lycos has started assessing their spamming penalties for pages containing less than 100 words. To implement the Less Is More method, develop a single sentence using your most important keywords. Place this single sentence on your index.html page along with a link to another page that contains the real meat of your sales presentation. Then submit your index.html page to the search engines. Some search engines have placed pages using this technique very high in their listings.

Additional Considerations
I would like to mention two additional techniques to boost relevancy related to your content. Alta Vista, InfoSeek, Lycos and Web Crawler index the ALT text of the IMG Tags and HotBot indexes COMMENTS. It has always been considered good HTML style to include an ALT Tag in every IMG Tag and to comment your source, but now there is the side benefit of increasing your relevancy rating. As in the content, use your most important keywords in your ALT and COMMENT Tags.

Getting Listed
After implementing the techniques as outlined, you are ready to submit your web site to the search engines. So how should you go about getting listed? There are many services out there claiming to guarantee you a Top Ten listing. Obviously, there can only be ten listings in the top ten. There are, by some estimates, more than 6 billion web pages in existence. How many of those pages do you think could be listed under your top keywords? Hundreds? Thousands? More? Clearly, it will be difficult for your site to beat out all of those competitors and achieve a top ten listing. It will require persistence, motivation and dedication, exactly the elements most submission services will not have when it comes to your business. Your business is your passion, not theirs.

This is not a put down of submission services, they have their place. They can get your site listed in many engines and directories across the Web in a very short period of time. They are worth their cost in time savings alone. The issue here is that listing in the search engines is a very important task, far too important to trust to an outside interest. At least for the major search engines, place your listing yourself using the search engines manual submission method.

A last word about getting listed in the search engines. It is vital that you not give up. Look at this as a learning experience. Do not be disappointed if your first attempts do not yield the results you are hoping for. Use the experience to help you fine tune your web site. The only losers in the search engine wars are the ones who have quit fighting.

About the author
Copyright 1998, 2003 Tony L. Callahan All Rights Reserved
Tony L. Callahan, is a successful Internet Promotions Consultant with more than twenty years of industry experience and is president of his own Internet marketing company, Link-Promote. He also publishes Web-Links Monthly, a newsletter full of tips, tricks, tools and techniques for successful web site promotions. To subscribe, send e-mail to: Web-Links-subscribe@topica.com. For an online archive of Tony's articles available for reprint, visit: http://www.link-promote.com/articles

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