Search engine and directory

Search engines and directories help users find the information they need by two distinct methods. Search engines crawl the web, indexing web pages by page title, body copy, and other elements. By taking search methods into consideration during the design process, you can create a web page that is more likely to be recognized by the various search engines, thereby increasing the number of hits your site will receive.

The following is a summary of information from SearchEngineWatch, a site that provides extensive information regarding search engines and how they work.

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Search engine and directory tips for design

Since search engines create an index based primarily on page titles and body copy, it is important to pay special attention to the top of your web documents.

  • Use the title tag to create a name that will effectively describe your site; besides improving your chances with search engines, it will also accurately reflect your site's content when listed as an entry in users' bookmarks.
  • Try to include relevant text references to your site's contents early in your document as most engines only search approximately the first 25 words of body text.
  • Whether in titles, body text or META tags, use more than one word in your keyword descriptions to increase their relevancy to a user's search.
  • Expand text references to include keywords repetitively. For example, rather than referring to "collectors" on a page about stamp collecting, use the phrase "stamp collectors" to subtly increase the number of times you refer to stamps.
  • Although directories list sites by submission, a site with meaningful content and attractive layout is more likely to be reviewed, increasing its relevancy rating and number of hits.
  • Some search engines exclude or penalize pages on which they detect search engine spamming techniques such as repeating the same word or phrase hundreds of times.

Note: To prevent a page from being indexed by most search engines, use the following: <meta name="robots" content="noindex">

  • Tables can pose a problem to search engines because they are broken apart by them, just as they are by older browsers. In other words, everything that appears in the first column appears first, followed by the contents of the second column. This can push relevant text further down the page, where it may not be read by the engines. There is no solution to this problem.  Use tables only for tabular data.  Do not divide page content using tables.
  • Image maps can be attractive, but since search engines are unable to read graphical text you may be hurting your site's chances to be correctly indexed by relying on them. Some engines are able to index these pages using any ALT text you specify.
  • A simple way to increase your number of hits is to create a site map page and submit it to the various directories.

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