To Optimize Your HTML
And Improve Your Ranking
by: Tony L. Callahan
Forget the tricks and
the gimmicks some experts tout for getting your web pages well ranked in
the search engines. The placement algorithms are constantly being refined,
the spiders are getting smarter all of the time. They recognize, and penalize,
the latest spoofs long before the average web page designer is even aware
of the trick.
to fool the search engine into a better ranking is a waste of time. So
what is the key to getting well ranked in the search engines today? The
answer is deceptively simple: Quality content and proper structure.
Content and Structure
I am sure you have heard it said many times before, but "Content Is King."
There are no two ways about it, a page with quality content, focusing
on the subject at hand will place better than a page that lacks focus.
The subject of content can fill many articles such as this; therefore
I will leave that discussion for another time.
Structure is the
other element of getting your pages well ranked by the search engines.
By structure, I am referring to the HTML tags that tell the browsers how
to display the content of the web page.
Were you aware that
badly structured HTML can affect your search engine ranking? It can. In
fact, depending on the problem, badly formed HTML can even keep your pages
from being listed at all. Make certain that your HTML is well formed,
meaning it is coded to the W3C specifications. You can find the HTML specifications
Beyond making sure your HTML is well formed there are some more techniques
you can employ to help improve your chance of a good ranking in the search
engines. I've listed a few recommendations below.
Name Your Pages
Some search engines give higher priority to pages with the keyword in
the URL. Decide what keyword is the most significant for the page and
name the page: significant_keyword.html This recommendation applies to
every file on your site, even graphics. Be sure to name your graphics
with keywords as well.
Immediately after the head tag your page should have a title tag. The
title tag will display in the top bar of most browsers and is also used
by many search engines as the title for your listing. Some search engines
give preference to pages with titles containing keywords. Try to write
a title for the page that is concise, compelling and keyword rich. Avoid
titles like "Welcome To Our Home Page" as it is neither concise nor compelling
and is not likely to be keyword rich.
Right after the title tag your page should include a description tag.
The description tag is used by some search engines to provide additional
detail to your site's listing. Just as with the title tag, some search
engines assign a better ranking to pages with a keyword rich description
tag. Just as before, you will want to be sure that your description is
compelling and keyword rich.
Following the description tag your page needs a keywords tag. This tag
is used by many search engines to get an idea of what keywords should
be associated with this page. This tag is also the one that causes many
people the most problems. Forget any of the folklore surrounding the keywords
tag such as keyword over loading, repetition and the like. These tricks
only cause your page to incur the wrath of the search engine gods.
A properly written
keywords tag will contain words and short phrases that are related to
the content of the page. Each word or phrase should be separated from
the others by a comma, not a space. The keywords tag should look like
Not all spiders utilize the robots tag, but many do. The robots tag defines
the behavior that the web site designer would prefer the spider to follow.
In this case, the behavior we would like to specify is for the spider
to follow the links it finds on the page. This way the spider can index
the other pages of your web site. The robots tag should appear as follows:
Search engine spiders do not always arrive at your site from the home
page. Always include a site map of links from each page to every important
page on your site. Create these links using plain text, images and image
maps confuse some spiders and are ignored by others.
The alt tag is read and utilized by some spiders as part of the ranking
algorithm. For a variety of reasons it has always been considered good
HTML form to include alt tags as a part of the img tag. Search engine
ranking is now another good reason for including this tag. Due to the
fact that they are used for other purposes, make certain that your alt
tags are meaningful first and keyword rich second.
A few of the search engine spiders will read HTML comment tags. A comment
tag does not affect the way the page displays but may be added by the
page designer for various purposes. If you have the time, adding keyword
rich comments may help your pages rank better in some of the search engines.
listed above are just a few of the ways that structure can affect your
page's search engine ranking. There are others, as well as the considerable
effect of the content itself. By spending time to identify your keywords,
creating quality content and employing the ideas contained here, you should
be able to write web pages that enjoy better ranking in the search engines.
Copyright 2000, 2002
Tony L. Callahan All Rights Reserved
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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-Linksfirstname.lastname@example.org.
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