Server response and
Any serious business should
spend the time to find a good host and the money to get a
decent hosting plan. That said, some don't and others find
that the host they thought was good isn't so good after all.
The SE spider that does not find your site available on a
regular basis is likely to drop your link. Slow servers that
take too long to render your pages run the risk of timing out
on spiders and may therefore cause them to be perceived as
Just like your Internet
browser, spiders read your pages from top to bottom and, if
you use tables, starting from the left-hand column. E.g. If
you have a layout similar to a newspaper, then the text will
be read from the left top corner down then up and over to the
next column. This is important since the assumption is that
the more important text is what most people will lead with and
therefore carries more weight.
Spiders view web pages in the
most primitive of ways. There is some tradeoff between
aesthetics and spider readability. An example would be a
website that relies heavily on graphics to communicate with
the customer. This certainly can be very positive from a
design point of view but it gives up the opportunity for the
spider to factor in text elements that would have been used
Proper use of html defines
for the spiders what each element of the page is. It is not
sufficient to have a heading of a given paragraph in larger
font or in bold. The html Heading Tag tells the browser to
render the text as a heading. Combined with font size,
underlining, and maybe bold, it formats on the visitor's
screen and in the code as an important title/heading that
stands out from regular text.
Flow from one page to another
can be very useful both for the search engine and the website
visitor. Running multiple usability tests and soliciting other
people's opinions can help point out weaknesses in this area.
Just like website visitors, the search engine spider will need
to find a way to access the various pages in your website by
"clicking" on a link from another page. The wording
on the link and the description that may follow is important
since it gives the visitor an idea as to the content of the
destination page. This is also factored into many of the
search engine algorithms.
Having a "catch
all" page is a simple fix that can be very effective in
keeping both the search engine and the prospective customer
from hitting a dead end when accessing a page that existed in
the past but is no longer there.
Page Copy and Text:
Search engines can only
render matches based on the information they find on the page.
A well-written page is both search engine and customer
friendly. Some redundancy in the page copy may be useful, but
not to the point where it makes your page look unprofessional.
Additionally, search engines can penalize too much redundancy
in your writing, which they may view as spamming.
This is the element of the
page that shows in the title bar of the browser and is not
seen by the visitor on the page itself. Many search engines
give considerable weight to this element, particularly as it
relates to the page text, the content of the site, and the
name of the file.
Keywords and Description
This is another element that
is not visible and carries varying weight depending on the
search engine in question. More keywords are not necessarily
better since an element of dilution will occur. Both the
Keyword Tag and the Description Tag are of lesser weight today
than they were at one time. Like the page title they are
useful when their content directly relates to the other
elements of the site such as the page title, the overall
content of the site, etc.
Domain Name and File Name:
These too, are less important
than they used to be but the domain name and the file name can
still be very helpful in your overall search engine ranking.
Needless to say, the domain name is critical from a branding
standpoint and is, in and of itself, a serious topic that goes
well beyond the scope of this article.
There seems to be a strong
correlation between frequently updated sites and site
re-indexing. The more updates you do, the more frequently the
spiders tend to visit your site. This keeps your updated
content current in the search engine cache.
These are factors that you
have less control over and which tend to take time to research
and implement. They often have direct impact on your site
above and beyond their affect on your SE placement.
The more sites that have
links to your site the better. If they are relevant sites then
it is best. Relevant is a rather relative word. If you are a
Jaguar car dealership in San Francisco, relevant sites can be
car review places, spare parts, car racing, a San Francisco
business directory, Jaguar fan club, and the list goes on.
Sites with links to you send visitors both directly (when
visitors click on such links) and indirectly, through SE
spiders "seeing" your link at those sites.
Links to your site may come
from numerous places. Review and content sites are best since
search engines factor in the nature of those sites, just as we
place more weight on an unsolicited unpaid restaurant
recommendation than an advertisement. Affiliate links and paid
ads are of value too and should not be discounted. Creating
and supporting a relevant content site can have many benefits,
not the least of which is steering valuable traffic to your
Sites similar to yours are
your competition for SE placement. This is why any SEO effort
is doomed if it is not derived from your business and
marketing strategy. It goes without saying that you should
strive to cater to under-served markets and offer unique
products and services. The more effort you put in this
endeavor the easier it is to compete in the market, and in the
Note: While the above
factors are important, they are
by no means the only ones to observe. In
addition, there are industry specific factors (e.g.
legal, regulatory, cultural, etc.) that need to be
considered when applicable.
Technology Matrix Group Ltd. 2004