Page Areas Defined

Since most engines assign varying degrees of importance to the location of your keywords on the page, the Page Critic breaks out statistics such as frequency, total words, weight, and prominence by 'Area.' These areas can only be seen when you view the HTML source code for a page. The area will have a begin tag such as <TITLE>, and an ending tag such as </TITLE>. The ending or closing tag will always have the added slash character in it.

To view the HTML coding for the page you're analyzing, click on the Page Editor tab on the Page Critic form, or load the page into your favorite HTML editor. With some editors, like Microsoft FrontPage, you'll need to click on the HTML tab to view the actual tags behind the WYSIWYG screen.

IMPORTANT TIP: Use the Page Critic suggestions table first to improve your rankings. For additional help, study the statistics in the Page Analysis table. Your goal is to try and make your page have similar statistics to those pages that already rank well. You can do this by comparing your page to specific page, a group of TOP ranking pages, or to the TOP Averages for that engine. The comparison options may be set on the second tab of the Page Critic screen. Making your numbers 'higher' than your competitors is not always going to help. Most engines rank pages well that appear within acceptable ranges. If you exceed their limits, you can actually hurt your ranking rather than helping it.

NOTE: Current WC3 HTML markup standards require all markup tags to be specified using lower case letters. We have left the following examples in UPPER case for emphasis.

Head

This is the area at the top of the page where the Title and META tags reside. Example:

<HEAD>
<TITLE>My Page Title Here</TITLE>
<META name='keywords' content='blue widgets'>
<META name='description' content='My description here.'>
</HEAD>

Title

The <TITLE> tag of your Web page is arguably the most important HTML tag or element. All the search engines consider the keywords in this tag and generally give those keywords a lot of importance in their ranking system. Therefore, if you were to create one page with a keyword in the title tag, and another page with the same keyword in the body tag, the one with the keyword in the title will rank higher in most engines.

Many search engines use the HTML <TITLE> tag as the title of your page in the search results that appear to the user. What this means to you is that this HTML tag must not only work to your advantage for keyword scoring, but also must be compelling to the reader.

There are two elements to every Web page listing in the search engines:

  1. Page title, which will be blue and an activated link to the site
  2. Page summary description.

Of course both must be compelling, but the <TITLE> tag has a special relevance if only because so many search engines use it exactly as it appears on your page. The page description you offer in the META description tag will be used by some search engines but not by others. For this reason, the <TITLE> of the page is simply more important than the META description.

Here are the important principles to remember when writing page titles:

A. Longer <TITLE>s are often more effective because more words allow you to build a more compelling reason to visit a page.

B. People don't 'read' text, they 'recognize' words.

Point 'A' is that longer <TITLE>s work better because it takes a certain number of words to persuade someone to take action remember, in a direct response approach its difficult to offer the key elements of time, money and value in just 2 words. People often scan headlines in brochures and magazines, even when they don't read the article itself. Since the title is usually a hyper link, it's a different color and is generally bolded and easier to read. When it's longer, there are more words with which you can 'hook' a reader. Chances are people's eyes will scroll down a list of page titles and if something catches their eye, they will hopefully read the site description, and if you've done your work, they will be hooked.

Point 'B' is that people don't read after about the time they turn 12 or 13 years old they recognize words. Educators know that people glance at words and recognize the words by the shape they see defined by the tops of the words. Don't believe it? Take a sentence in any newspaper or book and cover the bottom half of the words. You can still read the words with relative ease. Now cover the top of a different sentence. You'll find that the words are harder to read because there is not much difference in the shape or line of the words. This is because the bottoms of all words reach the bottom of the page along the line they're written on.

You see, you recognize words by the tops of those words, by the differences in the height of the different letters. You think to yourself, 'interesting, but how does this apply to me and my marketing efforts?'

If people recognize words by looking at the tops of the words, and that this is accomplished because the tops of words vary in height and appearance, then sentences that start with just one capital letter and then lowercase letters will be easier to recognize and will get read first. Every little advantage helps you!

WORDS IN ALL CAPS ARE HARDER TO READ!!! PEOPLE DON'T LIKE TO READ THEM AND DON'T READ THEM AS EASILY. RECOGNIZING THE WORDS IN THE SENTENCES IS TEDIOUS AND THESE LINES ARE FREQUENTLY OVERLOOKED.

To further illustrate the 'tops of words' principle, look at how difficult it is to read this sentence:

SeNtEnCeS ThAT VaRy CaPs AnD LoWErCaSe LeTtErS ArE mAdDEnInG AnD EvEn HarDeR To ReAd.

See what a difference the tops of words can make? For this reason, construct your <TITLE> tags and site title submissions with one capital letter to start the tag, and then use lower case letters for the rest of the site title. This little technique is just one more advantage that you can have over your Web site's competitors and others who would compete with your site's listing in the search results.

Example of a title tag:

Example:

<TITLE>Blue Widgets Sold Here</TITLE>

The Title tag should always be within the <HEAD> area and should be the first line within that area.

Quick Tips:

  • Always use your primary keywords in the title tag at least one or more times.
  • Try to place your primary keywords at the start of the tag.
  • Avoid listing the same word multiple times in a row since some engines may penalize for this. Instead, use the keyword multiple times, but separate them by other words in your text.
  • Use the longer form and the plural form of a keyword when possible. For example, if you use marketing in your Title tag, a search on marketing or market will yield a match on most engines. However, words like companies will not always yield a match on company since company is not an exact 'substring' of companies. In these cases you'll want to try and use both forms of the word.
  • Use Upper/Lower case lettering for keywords in general. Example: Blue Widgets are sold here!
  • Longer titles are generally better than shorter ones. However, shorter ones can be used if you need to better emphasize a keyword that you're having trouble ranking well with, or if that engine appears to favor pages with shorter titles.
  • Make your title interesting and 'compelling' to the reader to convince them why they should click there.

META Keyword

The purpose of this tag is to define what keywords apply to your page. However, only some search engines will read this tag, and those that do often do not place as great importance on it as keywords found in other areas of the page. Still, you should generally include a META keyword tag on your page within the <HEAD> area.

Example of a META keyword tag:

<META name='keywords' content='blue widgets,green widgets,red widgets, Jerry's Widget Emporium'>

Commas should separate each keywords or phrases. In general, list keywords in lower case. Avoid repeating keywords more than 3 to 7 times, and never list the same keyword twice in a row.

META Description

The text found in the META Description tag will be displayed to the user in the search results for many engines. Therefore, it pays to craft a good description so that you not only rank well, but so people will actually click on your link once they see it.

Example of a META Description tag:

<META name='description' content='Place paragraph text here.'>

The above tag would appear within the <HEAD> area.

How to Write a Compelling Description:

The following title and description may get you a high ranking for a keyword search on the word 'mortgage':

! AAA Mortgage banking, the Mortgage money lenders - Mortgage, lenders, money, mortgages, mortgage money, mortgage loans, home equity loans, mortgage money,

What it says, however, is unappealing. Instead, look at another site description, that would also be ranked high, and see which site you would be more likely to visit:

Mortgage Applications Approved Overnight!! - Mortgages and mortgage financing techniques that the larger banks just can't offer. Learn the 8 important things to include on your application so that your mortgage can be approved in 24 hours, even if you have poor credit.

The listing above has the word 'mortgage' as the first word of the title, the first word of the description and repeats the word 'mortgage' 4 times. The difference is that this description is compelling, solves a problem and offers '8 important things' or pieces of information that could be valuable to consumers who visit the site.

The direct response business, you know, those companies that make infomercials and run classified ads in papers across the country, have studied and mastered the art of writing headlines. What they learned is that headlines are most effective when they accomplish 4 things:

  1. Solve a problem
  2. Solve that problem quickly
  3. Solve that problem for what appears to be a small or reasonable amount of money
  4. Make the reader curious to learn more...

With that in mind, the following headline is acceptable, but not as effective as it could be:

'I can help you to get out of debt and get a good credit rating - I've done it for others I can do it for you!'

A better approach, and, a headline that usually draws more inquiries reads:

'Correct your bad credit in under a week for less than $49!'

It solves a problem, does so quickly and shows how much money is involved. People relate to this appeal because it has a fundamental basis. Remember the many adages about goal setting, 'A goal without a deadline is a wish!' Or, how about what they teach you in business school about proposal writing, 'Never offer a plan that does not include both time and money.'

The direct response model is effective because it addresses these things, especially time and money. Think about this when writing your page description and title before you submit them to the search engines. Ask yourself:

  • Is my headline compelling?
  • Is it interesting?
  • Will it make someone curious to learn more?
  • Would I read it and want to visit the site?
  • Does it include time and money?
  • Does it solve a problem?
  • Does it suggest that it solves that problem quickly?
  • Does it show a price? (only emphasize the price if yours if very attractive)

Be careful, you don't want to offend anyone's intelligence and many direct marketers write headlines that underestimate readers. Read it yourself and make a determination if you would find the title interesting if you don't, others won't.

This direct response model does not apply universally in its purist form as many web sites are not selling things directly or are informational in nature or support what ad execs would call image advertising. However, do not overlook the fundamental truth:

Being first in the search engines is great!
Being first and compelling is better.

Your listing in the search engine should be compelling. If the description of the site right below yours is more compelling, you lose that prospect just passed over your site.

Our Summary reports show each position along with your page's summary description. Many people only concern themselves with their position number. Remember, that is only half the battle!

Heading

Headings are generally the larger print on a page used to emphasize or introduce new topics. Headings come in various sizes represented by tags like <H1>, <H2>, <H3>, etc. Some of the search engines give extra relevance to keywords that appear within a heading tag.

Example of a heading tag:

<H1>Blue and Green Widgets</H1>

Link Text

A page's relevance to a given search can be improved by taking advantage of another scoring technique highly favored by some engines. The text within a LINK is sometimes weighed more heavily than words found in the regular body text.

Example of a link tag:

<A HREF='blue-widgets.htm'>Blue Widgets</A>

Example of a page which emphasizes the keyword Widgets in the Link Text:

<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>Widgets and More!</TITLE>
<META name='description' content='Widgets by Jerry's Widget Emporium are the best widgets money can buy.'>
<META name='keywords' content='blue widgets,green widgets,red widgets, Jerry's Widget Emporium'>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
<H1>Widgets Explained:</H1>
<P>Widgets by Jerry's Widget Emporium are the best widgets money can buy.</P>

To learn about our widgets, choose one of the following: <BR>

<A HREF='blue-widgets.htm'>Blue Widgets</A> <BR>
<A HREF='red-widgets.htm'>Red Widgets</A> <BR>
<A HREF='green-widgets.htm'>Green Widgets</A> <BR>

</BODY>
</HTML>

The above example again emphasizes the keyword 'widget' but also includes other PHRASES people might search on such as blue widget, green widget, and so forth. Statistically, most people search on two or more words to narrow the scope of their search, so always include related keywords together whenever possible.

The VISIBLE text of the links above are where you primarily want to include your keywords. It's also a good idea to create your page names based on your best keywords. That way you score a few more keyword points for the occasional search engine that indexes the page name portion of the link tag as well.

Link Text Tips:

  • Always use your primary keywords in the visible link tag area of at least one or more links on the page.
  • Try to place your primary keywords at the start of the link when possible.
  • If generating or creating a 'doorway' page, always link to another page on your site which includes more detail about the keyword topic.
  • Avoid listing the same word multiple times in a row since some engines may penalize for this. Instead, use the keyword multiple times, but separate them by other words in your text.
  • Use the longer form and the plural form of a keyword when possible. For example, if you use marketing in your Title tag, a search on marketing or market will yield a match on most engines. However, words like companies will not always yield a match on company since company is not an exact 'substring' of companies. In these cases you'll want to try and use both forms of the word.
  • Use Upper/Lower case lettering for keywords in general. Example: Blue Widgets are sold here!

URL

Keywords within the URL itself can be given extra relevancy by some search engines. Therefore, it pays to create pages on your Web site that include keywords within the name of the page itself.

Example:

<A HREF='my-url-keyword-here.htm'>My Link Text Here</A> <BR>

Separate keywords in URLs by dashes or underscores.

Quick Tips:

  • If generating or creating a 'doorway' page, always create one or more hyper links to another page found on your site that includes more detail about the keyword topic.
  • Creating page names which include your keyword such as blue-widgets.htm can help increase relevance on some engines. Most generally do not care what you name a page, but naming them based on the keyword you are targeting won't hurt.
  • Avoid numbering your doorway pages as index1.html, index2.html, etc. This can 'red flag' you to the search engines or your competitors, and implies you are making lots of copies of your home page even if the content of each page is entirely different. It's again better to name the page based on the keyword and maybe a couple letters to remind yourself what engine you're targeting, like 'av' for AltaVista.
  • The visible text portion of a link should always include your keywords when possible.

Advanced Formatting/Linking Tip: Infoseek recently started discouraging the practice of creating a 'bridge' page whose sole purpose is to link to another page. In reality, nearly all pages on the Web link to other pages. Therefore, this little known policy is very ambiguous and subject to much interpretation.

If you wish to 'cover your bases' when creating pages designed to rank well, we recommend creating 'doorway' pages using the rules we've defined in this help file and the advice of the Page Critic. In addition, try to use a similar visual style to other pages on your site when you have the extra time to do so. That way the page will look less like a generic 'doorway' or 'bridge' to your home page, and more like an integrated part of your Web site. When the page contributes content to a site, it cannot possibly be discounted simply as a bridge page that does not add any value to a search engine's database.

One way to accomplish this goal is to use the same or similar menu structure used on the rest of your site and provide links to other areas besides just your home page. Provide real and useful content on your doorway page, not just advertising 'fluff.' Use similar company logos, graphics, and colors on the doorway page that you use elsewhere on your Web site. Also try to link to your doorway pages from at least one other page on your site that the search engine is sure to come across.

In addition, avoid the practice of making many mirror copies of your home page and then simply changing some of the keywords and meta tags. Search engines dislike pages that are extremely similar in content, particularly if a single search brings up 5 copies of basically the same content. That can red flag you to the engine as a 'spammer' even if you do it unintentionally. In addition, avoid numbering your pages such as index1.html, index2.html, etc.

It's difficult for search engines to 'automatically' detect most of these things and most do not even attempt to. However, if a competitor of yours complains to a search engine that you are abusing the system and the search engine actually follows up with the complaint (generally a rare event), then structuring the look of your pages properly will defuse any argument they might make. There is certainly nothing wrong with making your pages 'search engine friendly', so long as you are honest about the keywords you use to describe the content of your site, and play within the 'rules'.

ALT

The ALT tag defines the text to display for a graphic if the user has graphics turned off, or if they put the cursor over it in MS Explorer. Some search engines will look for keywords in the ALT tags.

<IMG SRC='myimage.gif' ALT='Blue Widgets, Red Widgets, and Green Widgets'>

Comment

You can insert hidden 'comments' into your page that are not visible to the user. A couple of engines will read this text, so you may wish to include keywords in these tags.

Example:

<!-- Blue Widgets, Red Widgets, and Green Widgets -->

Body

The BODY area is where the bulk of the text on a page generally resides. The ALT, COMMENT, AND LINK tags all can appear within the body area. When they do, they are counted as part of that particular area, rather than the BODY area, on the Page Critic report. The only words counted in the body are those that do not fall in some other more specific area.

Example of a complete page which includes the BODY area and tags within it:

<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>Widgets and More!</TITLE>
<META name='description' content='Widgets by Jerry's Widget Emporium are the best widgets money can buy.'>
<META name='keywords' content='blue widgets,green widgets,red widgets, Jerry's Widget Emporium'>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
<P>Widgets by Jerry's Widget Emporium are the best widgets money can buy.</P>

To learn about our widgets, choose one of the following: <BR>

<A HREF='blue-widgets.htm'>Blue Widgets</A> <BR>
<A HREF='red-widgets.htm'>Red Widgets</A> <BR>
<A HREF='green-widgets.htm'>Green Widgets</A> <BR>

</BODY>
</HTML>

Quick Tips:

  • Always use your primary keywords in the body tag area at least one or more times.
  • Try to place your primary keywords at the start of the tag.
  • Try to repeat the keyword near the end of each paragraph in the body and near the end of the body area itself. Some search engines such as Lycos are claiming that they look for themes on a page and will rank pages higher that use the keyword throughout the page, rather than only at the top of the page.
  • Avoid listing the same word multiple times in a row since some engines may penalize for this. Instead, use the keyword multiple times, but separate them by other words in your text.
  • Use the longer form and the plural form of a keyword when possible. For example, if you use marketing in your Title tag, a search on marketing or market will yield a match on most engines. However, words like companies will not always yield a match on company since company is not an exact 'substring' of companies. In these cases you'll want to try and use both forms of the word.