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Meta Keywords
This criterion is widely regarded as totally unimportant because it is completely invisible and subject
to manipulation. It is wise to place a few major keywords as well as their misspellings in the meta key-
words tag, but the effectiveness of targeting misspellings this way has been disputed:
<head>
<meta name=”keywords” value=”chocolate chip cookies, baking chocolate chip
cookies, choclate, cokies” />
...
</head>
Alt and Title Attributes
Because these tags are mostly invisible, they are likely not an important ranking factor. Many assert
that their value is higher on hyperlinked images. They are important, however, for screen readers and
text-based browsers — that is, for accessibility and usability in general, so they should not be ignored
for that reason alone. Neither of these attributes will make or break you, but blind visitors using screen
readers will thank you in any case. This is a case where accessibility, usability, and search engine opti-
mization coincide. The descriptions should be short. Keyword stuffing in an
alt
tag will irk blind
users using screen readers, and possibly “irk” the search engines as well. Alt tags can only be used in
image tags, whereas title attributes can be used in most tags. Here is an example of the
alt
attribute
in an image:
<img src=”/images/chocolate_chip_cookie.jpg” alt=”a picture of a really big
chocolate chip cookie”>
And the
title
attribute on a link:
<a href=”/chocolate_chip_cookie.html” title=”a really big chocolate chip cookie”>
Page Structure Considerations
Search engines use block-level elements, for example
<div>
,
<p>
, or
<table>
elements to group related
text. Using block-level elements indiscriminately for layout, as illustrated in the following example, may
be harmful:
<div>Dog</div>
<div>food</div> is likely to be less relevant than:
<div>dog food</div>.
Time-Based Factors
Try as you might, but the only criterion that cannot be manipulated in any way is time. Old men and
women are often sought for their knowledge and experience. And the price of wine is directly propor-
tional to its age for a reason.
This is a useful analogy. Because time cannot be cheated, an old site that slowly accumulates links over
time and regularly adds new knowledge is what we term “fine wine.” Search engines tend to agree, and
give the deserved credit to such fine wines.
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Chapter 2: A Primer in Basic SEO
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