Information Pages for Good Search
by Terry Plank
To determine search engine ranking, search
engines ("SE's") use complex and proprietary algorithms,
specific criteria to determine rankings. However, they keep
their algorithm secret for competitive reasons and to
prevent people from spamming them.
What all this means ?
What are some criteria SE's use for
determining your search engine ranking?
Prominence of the keyword searched in
the viewable text
Frequency of the keyword searched in the
Site popularity; how many other sites
link to a particular page
"Weight" of the keywords: the % of
keywords to the total # of words
Proximity of keywords to each other
Prominence & frequency, keywords in the
Prominence & frequency keywords in the
Prominence & frequency of keywords in
the <META NAME="KEYWORD">
Keywords in the first full sentence of
the page with more weight given to a <H1> tag
Keywords in the <A
HREF="http://yourcompany.com/page.htm"></A> link tags
Keywords in ALT tags (Make sure they
accurately describe the graphic or it's spamming!)
Keywords contained in the URL or site
Grammatical correctness and
natural-sounding word patterns
Use of formatting, repetition, and word
arrangement that could be considered as spam.
Each engine has lower and upper limits
for each variable and criteria. This protects it against
spammers, and it's why simply repeating keywords will
Other factors that influence search
SE's have different agreements with directories and
other programs that affect your ranking. And, some Web
sites use techniques that are not acceptable to search
engines but still get a higher ranking for their sites
Overture and a few others place sites according to
Some SE's rank sites higher that are in Open Directory
Project and Yahoo.
Serving a special page to the engine and a separate
page to the viewers (cloaking) is considered spamming a
How can you learn more about these criteria for
determining search engine ranking?
Begin your research to improve ranking by evaluating
your competitor's sites, look for the ones that have
good ranking and study what they have done to get it.
If you want a more systematic approach to learn about
optimization use software like our optimization software
GRSeo Search Engine Optimizer.
By studying the search engine ranking of a website, it's
possible to come very close to knowing how a particular
search engine ranks pages and then be able to create
pages that rank well. But, it's not possible to know the
exact formula with 100% accuracy and there are other
factors that cause a particular page to be ranked high
for the chosen keyword phrase.
Next, you'll want to create Web pages for your site that
are "organically" optimized from the beginning with an
eye to how SE's rank sites. Then test these pages on the
web and see what search engine ranking you can product.
In the end, organic optimizing of your pages is
sometimes not enough to deal with differing SE criteria
use. Creating special pages to rank well for keyword
phrases and for specific SE's may require some special
pages. These are commonly known as doorway pages or
gateway pages. We prefer to think of them as information
pages, more about that later
What are information pages?
An information page is simply a page that targets a
particular keyword phrase that is also search engine
friendly. An information page can be used for many different
To optimize for an "appropriate" keyword phrase that
the text of your site can't accomplish adequately.
To provide good text pages for a site that uses Flash
or graphics instead of good text pages.
To explain to a specific SE that you are relevant for
a particular keyword search, appealing to the particular
idiosyncrasies of each search engine's algorithms.
Let me explain more fully.
A good Web site is designed to attract visitors to the
site and influence them in ways you hope will inform or
cause them to respond. However, what's good for
communicating with people is not always good for
communicating with a search engine.
If you have a Web site that relays primarily on graphics
and uses little text, uses a database and creates
dynamically generated pages, has highly competitive
keyword phrases, or that deals with a wide variety of
general topics, chances are that your pages will rank
poorly on search engine rankings.
This creates a serious dilemma. How do you make Web
pages that are both pleasing, useful, and logical to
humans, that work for your development and maintenance
of the site AND that presents your keywords to SE's in
such a way that they will recognize the relevancy of
your page for these keyword phrases.
Creating good content Information Pages are one strategy
for solving these troubling dilemmas.