to Rank High in Searches
optimization professionals can help your site show
up on the first page
by Reid Goldsborough
November 1, 2003
When looking for information on the Internet, you use
an Internet search engine. When trying to attract people
to your Web site, whether it’s a business or personal
site, you therefore need to make sure that people using
Internet search engines can find it through them. What
are the best ways to do this?
To answer this question, I talked via e-mail with a search
engine optimization professional, Alan Webb, whose father
couldn’t have given him a better last name for what
he does. Webb is CEO of Abakus Internet Marketing [www.abakus-internet-marketing.de/en/index.shtml].
Exemplifying the worldwide nature of the World Wide Web,
Abakus is based in Germany.
About 85 percent of Web sites are discovered through a
search engine, says Webb. The search engine market leader
for some time now has been Google. Because Google has
been used as the search technology by other search sites,
such as Yahoo!, AOL, Netscape, and iWon, Google’s
technology controls 76 percent of the search market, according
to WebDex [www.webdex.biz],
another search engine optimization company, based in Dallas.
(Yahoo recently bought the Inktomi search technology,
which MSN also uses, and may switch to it.)
For new sites, the figure for Google is even higher, approaching
95 percent, says Webb. Because Google owns the search
engine space, to get people at your site, you need to
show them the way through Google.
The reason for Google’s success is the relative
relevance of its search results. According to research
Webb has uncovered, about 70 percent of searchers don’t
look past the top 10 sites presented, or first page. Fully
90 percent don’t go past the first three pages.
Clearly then, it’s imperative for a Web site that
wants to be found to be on Google’s first page.
But don’t bother to pay for a sponsored link on
that page. The average click-through rate for them is
only about 6 percent, says Webb.
How your site shows up on Google depends on some things
you can’t easily control, such as how many other
sites link to yours, and on some can, such as your site’s
title and description.
Every Web page should have a title tag, which shows up
at the top of viewers’ browsers. You create a title
tag in the <HEAD> section of a Web page using a
short piece of HTML code, which directs how pages are
seen by Web browsers. The title tag is the piece of HTML
code that receives the highest weighting by Google.
When creating a title tag, even experienced Web designers
often get it wrong, says Webb, by choosing the wrong words.
Don’t use a title tag such as this: <TITLE>Welcome
to MyWebSite.com!</TITLE>. This will do nothing
for your search engine results.
Instead, use two or three keyword phrases, each consisting
of one to three words, separated by a hyphen, that clearly
spell out what your site is all about. Choose those keyword
phrases that Google searchers will most likely type in.
Use the same keyword phrases in the text of the page itself,
ideally two or three times.
In choosing optimal keyword phrases, the pay site Wordtracker
or free site Overture [inventory.overture.com] can help.
But don’t be guilty of “keyword flooding,”
says Webb. Some Web designers overeagerly load their title
tags with a dozen or more keyword phrases. Search engines
treat this as “spam” and penalize a site for
this in the rankings.
You should also use a meta-description tag. It should
be placed after the title tag and look like this: <META
NAME=“Description” CONTENT=“The [specific]
industry’s hardest working company in providing
[specific] solutions to [specific] customers.”>
The meta description is what searchers will see after
the title in the list of Google results and other search
engines. If you don’t use a meta-description tag
for the description of your site that appears on the search
results page, searchers instead will see the text around
the first occurrences of the searched-for term, which
may not provide enough information for searchers to want
to click through to your site.
Particularly for business sites, it sometimes makes sense
to hire a professional to improve your search engine rankings.
Google rates more than 100 different HTML, design, and
off-page factors in ranking sites. Testing different combinations
is often needed.
One good place to look for professional help is the Web
site Search Engine Optimization Consultants [www.seoconsultants.com].
Good sources of additional information about search engine
optimization are Spider Food [www.spider-food.net],
SEO Chat [www.seochat.com].
is a syndicated columnist and author of the book Straight
Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org