INSANITY IS DOING THE SAME THING AND EXPECTING DIFFERENT RESULTS.
-Einstein

  

RESIST  THE  URGE
TO  CONFORM

  
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top_right_ball.gif (853 bytes)top_middle.gif (834 bytes)white.gif (85 bytes)INTERNAL PLACEMENT FACTORS

Server response and uptime:

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 unavailable.

Page Layout:

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 otherwise.

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.

Unavailable Pages:

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.

Page Title:

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 (Meta Tags):

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.

Updates:

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.

 

External Factors

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.

Links:

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 commerce site.

Competition:

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 SE placement.

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.
         

Copyright Technology Matrix Group Ltd. 2004

                                 

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