What Search Engines are Looking For
I sent out an email to a few of the top Search Engines with a number of questions.
I wanted to clear up just what was important to Webmasters on topics like Meta Tags and the like.
The questions were sent to Google, Inktomi, Altavista and Alltheweb.
These Engines supply the Majority of all Search Engine content on the Web.
What I came up with is keywords are out!
Reason given - keywords tag: not used due to excessive abuse by spammers
Although they are still used by minor search engines all the majors seemed to have dropped them.
So if you want to still use them you can limit the number of keywords down to five or so
This will be about right for most smaller engines which have limits on the keyword string size.
This brings us to the three Item Rule:
Title, Description and Content
It appears that the Title and Page Content are the two most important items which they base your ranking.
The Description is also very important but it is not really used by Google.
To have a page that ranks well in all engines then the above is true.
It is hard to get solid information as to how each Search Engine ranks a page.
It is clear to me they do not want to give out information to avoid spamming problems!
This is understandable due to the fact that many would abuse this information as they have in the past.
So how an engine ranks a page is kept secret and done so to avoid spamming problems.
It is also clear to me that Search Engines Rank pages based on what they believe users want!
A Search Engine will rank pages high if they believe the content is of value to those using the Engine
This brings us back to the three main items - Title, Description and content
The Title and Description must be consistent.
A Search Engine does not care about how well a page looks!
This is due to the fact that they use a Robot to look at your page.
The Robot will look at Links and written text.
Search Engines look at page links for possible keywords but a page Title rules in this area with Description and content coming in second
Also if your page contains written text consistent with the Title and Description
and is considered of value then it will rank high
There are other factors involved such as category and number of sites within that category that can effect ranking.
Many are trying to drive home a point that linking is the key to success.
Linking should help but I do not believe it is a major factor.
Quality links to high traffic sites help to drive traffic to your site and do help in ranking.
Quality links are links that are on topic.
If you sell Cars then other Car related Websites are considered on topic and will count as a plus
On the other hand some links will hurt your ranking!
Link farms, Link Exchange Programs or non-related Websites are not the way to go and will count as a minus.
But the real bottom line is being able to present a site to the engines that adds to the search experience.
The goal each engine is trying to reach is being able to do this without human intervention.
I do not believe anyone at any of the Major Search Engines actually looks at your page.
They may however do so if it reaches a top 10 ranking or if they have a category or topic that is important to fill.
Ranking from my experience is based on rules in a script that each engine uses to sort out the millions of pages they store.
These rules will vary from Engine to Engine but if you follow the three items rule along with quality links you should do well.
The other Meta Tags used by the Majors include:
I would like to thank the AltaVista, Overture and Alltheweb Support Teams for their help on this topic