fall in to two types, the search engine e.g. Google, and the
directory e.g. Yahoo. A directory uses editors, real people,
to review your web site; search engines uses robot software
known as crawlers or spiders to interrogate your web site. If
you want to get as high as you can in the listings of both,
for free, then you must consider the following.
have four elements that need to be accommodated in your search
engine strategy. They are TEXT, LINKS, POPULARITY and WEIGHT.
If your target market is to be able to find you then you better
use the words they might use in a search engine as part of your
siteís dialogue. The words they will be using to find you can
be strategically placed in four ways TITLE, BODY, META TAG and
IMAGES. Of these four the TITLE and BODY are the most important.
two most important places to put key words are in the title tag
(the title that appears in the strip at the top of the browser)
and the body text (the page your users can read). Meta tag text
are considered as secondary to title and body since not all search
engines read meta tags. Meta tags are the secret messages written
specially for a robot crawler. Directories do NOT use meta tags.
Key word selection and strategic deployment in your web site is
the most effective way to ensure your listing success.
The search engine must be able to find your pages via links within
your site but links outside your site are important too. There
are ways to ensure that your siteís internal links are search
engine friendly. Please note that:
MAPS (hot spots on an image) are nice for the users to be
able to navigate your web site but most search engines donít
follow their links so if your web site uses them you better
have an alternative way to navigate to the page.
can present problems. Most search engines have no trouble
with frames but the way they display the pages in their search
results can be less that friendly for the user.
SCRIPT is often used for building graphically appealing menus
providing links to a siteís pages. Itís also used for mouse-over
pop-up menus but sadly all the search engines you should care
about do not follow their links.
pages that are driven by databases are not search engine friendly
so donít expect that special product page to appear in a listing
if itís accessed via a URL that includes + % & etc.
is a graphics animation package that makes very sophisticated
animations that cost a lot to develop. Many sophisticated
sites use flash for very stylish navigation. It is also used
to make many of the banner adverts and pop-up adverts that
may have caught your attention. The bad news is only Google
and a few other search engines can follow links embedded in
Flash. The good new is Google has about 75% of the search
is divided in to two parts, LINK and CLICK. Itís good to have
links from other sites to your site but the quality of the site
that links to you is more powerful than the quantity of links.
Merely having links to your site is not enough. A search services
(engines and directories) measure how many times users are clicking
on the links to your site. And how long they stay on your site
to read the quality information you have put there. But not just
that, they also look to see if your new visitors came back to
look again. Staying and coming back to your site is referred to
as click-through (CLICK). So remember, search services measure
both link popularity (which includes quantity and quality) and
click-through. This is why it is important that web sites that
link to your page have attractive and appropriate banners that
encourage a user to click and while visitors are there you better
engage their attention and find strategies to bring them back.
Note: ALL the major search engines include POPULARITY as part
of their search algorithm. Itís well worth devising models to
capture and engage your visitors.
WEIGHT: is a mystery
to all but the search engine writers. The rules are constantly
changing, so anyone who promises your site will list in the top
ten of a search is meaningless, not least if you consider the
same promise is being made to many more people that 10 across
the rest of the UK let alone the world. However, it is well known
that search engines assign a higher weight to the information
they find on the front page of a web site than to any other page,
so consider well what you put there.
list your site if you have registered or they have found
based on LONGEVITY, UNIQUENESS, CATEGORY, TITLES and DESCRIPTIONS.
The important distinction between directories and engines
with a directory you are dealing with a real person. Someone
will actually look at your web site and make a decision
its quality, appeal and uniqueness, let alone its readability
and compliance to the Web
is the staying power of your site. The directory service wants
to be sure your web site will be there in the future so it doesn't
get a dead link in its listing. If they see some evidence of a
legitimate organisation or company that matches the owner of the
domain name in the WHOIS listing then all the better. Another
good sign is a secure payment scheme on your site which is only
possible to set up if you are a trusted financially.
is important to the directory service because they donít want
to put sites in their category listings that are already served
by the same information. You know that your site has unique elements
to it so you better make sure that the person who deals with your
submission knows it too. When you submit your site you can leave
details for the editor to read.
is really determined by the editor. The editor will decide where
your site should live in their directory. If you want to understand
which category you should be placed in then use the key words
you expect users to enter and find out who pops up. Remember,
your site's actual content must match the category you want to
place it in.
are used to find your site if the directory userís search word
is not found in a category. Web sites that have the search word
in the category and title and description text will be higher
in the listing than those that donít. So think back to the person
who said he could get you in the top 10 but didn't give you advice
about wording the text on your site. Again, the description you
submit of your site to the directory editor should accurately
reflect the content of your web site If the editor canít see evidence
of that content by looking at the front page then donít expect
him to add you to the directory.
Web Design Practice
has five basic parts READABILITY, NAVIGATION, LAYOUT, SPEED and
AVAILABLITY which collectively make your web site a nice place
to visit which all helps to bring visitors back and improve your
How easy is it to read your web site? Not just by humans but by
browsers, thatís Netscape and Explorer, and machines, thatís Macintosh
and PCs. Your choice of font, colour and size is important too.
Any member of the Ďsans serifí fonts is ideal. [Ďsansí is French
for without, Ďserifí is the squiggle on the limbs of a character].
If you have any animations then donít make them so fast that people
have to watch them several times to be able to get the message.
is important. If a user gets lost in your site they might not
return again. Colour, font size and simple visual techniques can
do a lot to help a user browse around with confidence. Having
a menu bar that appears on every page is a must. The default signal
for a link is blue underlined text but it is a little unattractive.
If you donít use the default then make it bold and/or a different
size and colour and be consistent from page to page. You should
also distinguish links within your site from hyperlinks which
take the user out of your site.
LAYOUT of your web
site should be consistent. Donít swap and change background colours
just because you have discovered how. Being consistent makes you
predictable, being predictable comforts the user and comfortable
users buy the products you want to sell. If you are displaying
pictures then as far as possible use the same sizes throughout
the site. If you use pop-up browser windows be consistent in the
size of the pop-up image too.
or lack of it, can be a terrible turnoff to most users. You will
especially upset users on dial-up modems if your site takes forever
to access. This means you should use animations sparingly. If
the photographic images on your site are not optimised for the
web you will loose customers. Itís common to see pictures that
are 10 times too data heavy than they need to be. Users wonít
thank you as they wait on their dial-up modem for a 120kb picture
when it could have been 12kb. What is the point of you being at
the top of a search list if the user decides your site is too
slow and goes back to the list to get the site that came in second.
Use thumbnail pictures for your products. If a user wants to see
a better picture let them click the thumbnail for a web optimised
image. MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: If your front page takes too long
to load then the search engine might not bother to wait! Generally
speaking your front page should be less that 100kb. A typical
dial-up modem has a speed of 56kb per second. Your 100kb front
page will take about 2 seconds to load. Anything longer and you
run the risk of loosing a customer and possibly the robot crawler.
is a must for your customers. Donít make the prospective customer
search for your product. If at all possible take your prospect
directly to your product page from the link presented on the search
service. Never make your customer make more than seven clicks
to find your product. Remember that to get your listing in the
directory services itís a person that will be trying to find your
products. Donít hide them.
hope this article helps you understand a little more about web
design and search service strategy. Needless to say there is more
to it than this article discusses but we hope this was enough
to help you choose Green Town to build your web site.