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Factors That Greatly Affect Your Relevancy

Search engines are in the business of sorting Web sites in their databases by the keywords contained in a Web site or keywords used to describe a Web site for submission-based directories. Which keywords each individual search engine determines your site is relevant to and how often those keywords are queried will determine how often your Web site's description is presented. How well you organize the important keywords in your Web site to fit with each search engine's ranking criteria will determine your Web site's rank.
Generally, each search engine based on some predefined criteria assigns "points" to Web sites or the submission someone made describing that Web site. And, while all search engines measure a keyword's position on your pages, there are a variety of places where you can include keyword-rich copy or hidden HTML tags to achieve better rankings. Right now, we are simply talking about basic keyword placement and order and general rules you should consider when creating site descriptions and titles for your pages.

While the ranking criteria vary among search engines, most grade the placement of keywords on your Web site, the site's title and description based on these factors:

  • Keyword Prominence
  • Keyword Frequency
  • Site popularity
  • Keyword Weight
  • Keyword Proximity
  • Keyword Placement

Keyword Prominence:
How early in a Web site's title or description a keyword appears. For example, did the title of the site start with a particular keyword or was that keyword the fourth or fifth word of the site's title? See the following example Infoseek search results for keyword "Pre-Owned Electronics":

INFOTECH USA, INC - (Site Title) "Medical books world's largest selection, stocking over 90,000 titles"
http://www.medicalbooks. com

Note that the queried keyword, "Medical Books" is the first word of the site title and Google returned this site as the first match. Documents that are exactly the same, but with keywords as the second or third word in the title will score lower. Prominence also applies to the words within the body of the document, the headings and other tags.

Keyword Frequency:
How often a keyword appears in a site's title or description. See the following example:
Search for keyword "marketing":
marketing budget improvements for your business from DVC, Inc. Digital Vision Communications is an interactive marketing agency that can help you with your marketing budget. If you need creative or advertising...
http:// www. 80. com/ tips/ digitalvisioncommunications
Note that the queried keyword, "marketing," appears three times in the Lycos search results (underlined for emphasis).
You don't want to go overboard with frequency, however, since on some engines if you repeat a word too many times, you'll be penalized for "spamming" or keyword stuffing. In general though, repeat your keyword in the document as many times as possible and three to seven times in your META tags.

Site Popularity:
The number of other Web sites linked to your site. This ranking measurement is sometimes called a site's significance ranking because it is believed that one measure of a site's value is the number of other Web sites that felt your site was sufficiently important to link to. If a lot of other sites link to your site, chances are your site is relatively important - or so a number of other Web site owners thought.

For instance, at least 315,990 Web sites link to the IBM (www. ibm. com) Web site in AltaVista's index (in January, 1998). Because of these links, IBM would achieve better ranking in certain search engines with all other factors being equal. However, this is only one factor, and you can certainly achieve high rankings without being linked from thousands of sites. This is simply another reason why you want to get other sites to link to yours. Sometimes if you agree to link to them, they'll do the same for you. In Web marketing, this is called cross-linking or reciprocal linking and is another way to increase traffic to your Web site.

Keyword Weight:
The number of keywords appearing on a Web page compared to the total number of words appearing on that page. Some search engines consider this when determining the rank of your Web site for a particular keyword search. This ranking criterion cannot be properly illustrated by showing a particular search result from a search engine since keyword weight is not directly evidenced in the search engine's matches. It is measured on the actual Web page that is described by the search engine's listing.

One technique that often works well is to create some smaller pages, generally just a paragraph long, which emphasize a particular keyword. By keeping the overall number of words to a minimum, you will increase the weight of the keyword you are emphasizing.

When designing your site, keep this in mind: do not provide detailed product or service information on your home page. Instead design a page for each product or service and provide a brief description and a link to the home page. This will allow you to be more specific with your keywords for each product or service page and increase the weight of the keyword.

Keyword Proximity:
The placement of keywords on a Web page in relation to each other or, in some cases, in relation to other words with a similar meaning as the queried keyword. For search engines that grade a keyword match by keyword proximity, the connected phrase "home loans" will outrank a citation that mentions "home mortgage loans" if you are searching only for the phrase "home loans."

Keyword Placement:
Where on your page your keywords are located. For example, in most engines, placing the keywords in the title tag of the page or in the heading tag will give it more relevancy. On some engines, placing keywords in the link text (the part that is underlined on the screen in a browser) can add more relevancy to those words.


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