When composing the text on your web pages, there are a few things you want to do in order to make it very easy for search engines’ “crawlers” to see what’s important on your website. These crawlers, or “spiders,” comb over the millions of pages on the internet and report their findings to places like Google and Yahoo. Google and Yahoo use this information to categorize and rank web pages.
Therefore, it’s very important that the crawlers see your web pages clearly. The thing is, though, that crawlers don’t look at your pages the way people do. Crawlers read ALL the text within your web page, including the text behind the scenes, like the html code, the file names of images, and something else called the “meta” information. Crawlers don’t see the colors or actual images–they just don’t care about that kind of thing!
So let’s take a look at the not-to-be-missed “text to do list” for each page on your website.
Every web page has a title–it appears at the very top of a page in the blue bar across the top of a web browser. You want the title of your page to exactly match the content of the page. Make sure each web page of your website has a title that matches its particular content!
In the popular website design program Dreamweaver, there’s a window near the top of the screen where you can type in a title for the web page you’re working on. If you don’t see this window, go to “View,” “Toolbars,” then choose “Document.” Now you should see it. (You can also go to “Modify” and choose “Page Properties” to type in a title for your web page.)
The first bit of text on a web page should be in “H1” format. There are various formats you can use for text, from “paragraph” to “preformatted” to “none.” The heading at the top of a web page should always be in “H1” format.
It’s easy to re-format text. Just select the text and in the text properties box, select the format you want from the “format” box. In Dreamweaver, the text properties window is usually visible at the bottom of the screen. If you don’t see it, go to “Window” then select “Properties.” Now you should be able to see it. (You can also go to “Text” then “Paragraph Format” to select a format.)
Keywords and Key Phrases
Here’s one way to think of key words and key phrases: Key words and key phrases are the words and phrases that people might type into a search engine if they’re looking for a web page like the one you’re working on.
Brainstorm a list of key words and phrases. If you have a page about major league baseball hats, your brainstorming list might include: baseball hat, baseball cap, ball cap, hat, cap, major league baseball, MLB, major league baseball hat, major league hat, MLB hat, pro baseball hat, baseball, baseball fan, baseball team. You might even add “Yankees hat” since Yankees hats are the most popular baseball hat.
Try to come up with 5-15 words or phrases. Now these key words and phrases aren’t going to be visible to someone viewing your page on the internet, but they will be visible to crawlers. There’s a place in the html code where they go.
In Dreamweaver, one way to insert keywords and phrases into your web page is, from the main menu, click “Insert,” “Head Tags,” and then choose “Keywords.”
Web Page Description
A description is a 10 to 20-word (approx.) sentence that succinctly describes the content and purpose of a web page.
In composing your description, include your best keyword and/or key phrase. For our baseball hat page, we might have a description like this: “Your source for authentic Major League Baseball (MLB) baseball hats.”
This description is often picked up by search engines and displayed when the web page is listed in search results. Otherwise, the description is not visible to people browsing a page.
In Dreamweaver, one way to insert a description is, from the main menu, click “Insert,” “Head Tags,” and then choose “Description.”
“Alt” Text for Images
If you’ve ever rolled over an image on a web page and seen a little line of text appear next to your mouse arrow, then you know what “alt” text is. “Alt” stands for “alternate,” and it’s a label you give to images. Alt text is only visible when a mouse cursor hangs over an image for a second or two. It then disappears when the mouse is moved away. However, “alt” text is always visible to crawlers.
So label each of the images on a page with alt text–and try to use keywords and phrases in your labels.
In Dreamweaver, click on a picture and in the “Properties” window at the bottom of the page, in the window marked “Alt” you can type a label for the picture.
Planting Keywords and Key Phrases
Embedded in the text on a web page should be your most-important keywords.
Like all of the strategies discussed on this page, what you’re trying to do is to make it abundantly clear to the crawler what the exact focus of your page is.
Also, the more the crawler sees the phrase, let’s say “baseball hat,” the more convinced the crawler will be that you have a website that really is totally focused on baseball hats. Now don’t overdo it! Apparently crawlers get a little disgusted with pages that are stuffed with certain terms. When this happens, a page’s ranking can suffer.
What’s most important is that your text be adequately peppered with what you’ve determined to be your key words and phrases.
And the first block of text on your page is the most important. Be sure to use a phrase or two prominently there.
These strategies above are a good starting point for anyone interesting in optimizing his or her website for search engines!