IT intelligence: search engines

Sue Fidler explains how to get your website recognised by internet search engines.

Search engine optimisation means accessibility for internet search engines such as Google or Yahoo! and makes your site as easy to find and read as possible.

The first thing a search engine reads is your uniform resource locator, or primary website address. Machines don't mind if it is a series of numbers and letters, but humans do. The search engine will list any page, but humans are more likely to remember something that is meaningful to them.

A search engine will then look for meta tags. These are simple pieces of code that sit in the header of your web page and give the details of the site. One of the reasons these are critical is that they define what title is shown in the taskbar menu and which title and description search engines will display.

- this sets the taskbar and search results title; The relevant meta tags are: - defines the description used in search results; - defines the main search terms.

This may seem daunting if you don't know much about web pages, but it is easy to check by right-clicking on your homepage and selecting 'view source'. The meta tags should sit in a block near the top of the page. Once you have found them, check that what they say is correct.

If they aren't there, ask your web person to add them. If you manage your site manually, copy and paste the meta tags from a webpage (such as and change the details to suit your site.

Look at the copy on your pages and ensure the most important phrase for that page is repeated at least three times in the text. Search engines select search keywords by the phrases used. But don't add brand names or irrelevant phrases - if you do, search engines will blacklist your site.

- Sue Fidler is an independent charity ICT and internet consultant.

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