Things Search Engines Look For
understand what the search
engine optimization process is, the next step is to
understand how many factors the search
actually do look at. Many search engines suggest in
their documentation and discussions that there are numerous factors
that various search engines look for, and can affect how a web
site ranks in their search engine. There are about 20
factors that are very obvious and others that are less obvious, and
much harder if not impossible to prove. Furthermore, each search
engine weights each of these factors differently, and places the
emphasis in different spots.
The List Of Some Things Search Engines Look For:
- Title tag - You need a relevant title, not just "Home
Page" Use it for 5 key words.
- Headings - The search engines view < h> tags as
being terms of emphasis - they give weight to the words within
them. Put key terms in them.
- Bold - Of lesser importance than < h> tags. the
< b> tags still emphasize terms of importance.
- Alt text - Use descriptive short sentences in your alt
tags. If it's a picture of a rose, and you're a florist try "Red
Rose - Available at 'name' Flower Shop"
- Email addresses on page - if you put up an address,
make sure the domain name in the address matches the web site
domain. The search engines look at it as 'cheesy'if you don't.
- Keyword metatags
- Some engines use them directly, some check them as part of a
validation process - "do they match the content" If they don't
then is this a spam site?
- Meta description tag - Most engines look at this tag.
Use distinct ones throughout your site, and distinct ones for each
page. Make them particular to that page.
- Key term placement - Terms that are higher up on a page
are more heavily weighted.
- Key term proximity - Terms that are close together are
probably related, and thus the site will show up in searches for
- Comment tags - Some engines use comment tags for
content. Most engines look for them in graphic rich / text poor
- Page structure validation - proper coding is likely to
be of better overall quality, and thus rewarded.
- Traffic/Visitors - The search engines do keep track of
how many people follow their links.
Popularity (PageRank in Google's
- How may other web pages around the Internet point to your
- Do these other pages relate?
- Are they considered valuable resources?
- Anchor Text of inbound links
- Does the link to your web site have relevant keywords in it?
- Do the keywords used match keywords in your content?
- Rating of pages linking to this page
- Even if it is not directly relevant, a web page that is
important that links to your site will still help your web site.
- Having relevant links helps more with search engines like Teoma.
- Presence on marked authority pages. (DMOZ)
- Url quotation - i.e. when a page mentions the site by
url but doesn't link to it. This commonly occurs in news articles
that mention web sites. While it doesn't count as a link, it does
count as a reference.
- Number of links on pages linking to this page. If the
link to your web site is the only one from a page, it's viewed as
being more valuable than being one link among 100.
- Freshness of links on pages linking to your web site.
While the engines will count all links, a link from a web site
that has not been updated in a year or two will be less valuable
than from one that is updated daily. It indicates activity /
- Page Last Modified (Freshness)- just like the last
point a page that is updated frequently is favoured.
Links- Search engines like to see a closed loop - that a
referring site as also used as a reference. So when you are giving
away a link, ask for one back. It will help both websites.
- Keyword frequency across all pages. Does the content
really talk to the subject which the page and the web site is
supposed to be about?
- Keywords in the url
- Using keywords in the url does have an effect for the search
- You can use keywords in the filename. For example if the
page is about ford parts, then call it
- use dashes "-" and not underscores "_" to separate words in
- Response Time - If your site is fast, it's favored.
- Server Downtime - If the search engine robot comes by
and frequently can't connect sometimes, they penalize your site.
- Page Size - The engines tend to weigh content at the
start of a document more than content further down. If a page is
long, look at breaking it into sections. If a page is over 50k,
then it's too long.
Some Factors Which May Affect Search Engine Ranking
- Domain Extension - New extensions are not always
immediately recognized by the search engines. This was a problem
for .cc and .biz sites in the early going.
- Subdomains - If your web site is 'mysite.network.com,
and 'network.com' has engaged in any unsavoury search engine
spamming, your site will be affected.
- Always get your own domain, even if you use a subdomain
for your shopping cart, etc...
- IP Address/Range - This is a bit like the last point.
If the search engines have had problems with many sites from one
hosting company, they may degrade all the sites from that
comapny's IP range. It makes the hosting companies behave.
- "Domain in use since" The longer it's live the better
it's generally viewed. Kind of a respect thy elders
Negatives That Affect Your Position Within The Search
- Broken links - Internally and outgoing.
- Spam - Read our section on search engine
spam for details.
- Metatag Stuffing.
- Irrelevance - If you use irrelevant keywords,
- Tiny Text. - If you use text that is too small for the
eye to see.
- Invisible Text - Text the same color as the background.
- Meta Refresh Tag
- Redirects - Where when you try and get to one page, but
the address changes to a different one.
- Excessive Search Engine Submission - oversubmitting may
get your site banned.
- Frames - Be careful when you use them. You need to
embed key terms in them, because generally, the search engines can
only see the frame, and not the primary content that you see as
- Missing Alt Attributes - This is a mandatory code element for img tags and
is viewed as bad coding.
- Compounded Words in the content, or tags will not help
the web site for individual terms - i.e - 'hammersandnails' as
opposed to 'hammers and nails'.
- Excessive punctuation in the TITLE and description tags
- wastes precious space, and some characters are ignored or may
cause a problem with the spider (the pipe "|" is a great one that
should be avoided).