The object of search engines is to give their visitors a list of web pages relevant to their search, in the order of relevance to the search words. So what do they want from websites?

Relevance to a search:

  • The frequency of the search word on a web page is an indicator of its relevance. If a web page contains the word ten times on the page, it is ten times more relevant than a page which contains the word only once.
  • The position of the search word:
    • In the title tag.
      In the HTML coding, the title tag is <title>(Your title words…) </title> This appears in your browser at the very top of the screen, above File, Edit, View… This tag is important to search engines as it is visible to the visitor, and ostensibly sums up the purpose for the page. Other meta tags are largely ignored by search engines.
    • In a heading.
      In the HTML coding, the heading tag is <h1> (Your heading…) </h1> This tag is very important to search engines as it is visible to the visitor, and ostensibly sums up the purpose for the page. The size of the heading does not matter. Take care not to have more that one such heading on the home page. (Do not confuse the search engine).
    • In a link to another page.
      In the HTML coding, such a link could be <a href=”whodickies.htm”>Whodickies</a>. If “Whodickies” are important enough to have a link to them, they are very relevant to a visitor`s search for whodickies.
    • In the body text.
      Key words near the top and the bottom of the text are important. Certainly many search results show the beginning and end of pages.
  • Proportion of the search words on the page.
    The intensity of key words in relation to the total words in a page tells a search engine if there is spamming. Experience has shown that if the key words in a search make up more than 10% of the total web page the page is marked down. Some experts say 5%.
  • Number of inside pages linking back to that web page.
    The more inside pages linking back to the home page the more relevant the home page appears to the search engine. A website with 30 pages must seem to have more information than one with 3 pages.
  • Number of other websites linking to that web page.
    A website with links from 20 other websites seems more popular than one with links from only 2 other websites. The quality of such links has a bearing. e.g. Links from other websites which display your key words are better that links from websites without those words.
  • Number of articles published linking to that web page.
    Many websites publish articles on many subjects. Check the formats acceptable. Compose your article, then submit it.

Why do different search engines give different rankings to the same website? Each search engine may give a different weight to each of the factors above. Why would a website lose or gain ranking position, without any change? Search engines change their secret algorithms (formula of factor weighting) from time to time. Other websites may enter the lists, change, or leave the lists.

Remember that the main reason for putting up a website it to be found by search engines, so do all you can to be friendly to them.

These articles were first published on and have been re-published on many other websites and ezines over the years. New readers are still finding them to be of value and up to date with today’s conditions. We believe they illustrate common sense and the value of thinking through situations. Please check out the other articles advising on small business, web design, search engine optimisation, web hosting and domain names.