There is a silent battle going on as we speak – a battle on the internet. It’s a quiet battle little known to anyone, but the effects on web surfers are tremendous.
This is a battle between web masters and search engines. What’s that? A battle? Yep. The important thing to remember is that if you can get your site listed at the top of a search engine for as many keywords as you can, then you will get more hits, and that can translate into more money. Perhaps a lot more money.
You can see the fallout from this battle whenever you search. If you enter something like “Denise Richards” you will pull up hundreds of pornographic sites which have nothing to do with her. In fact, put in just about any term and you will get porno sites, usually lots of them.
So what do people do to get listed near the top? A favorite trick is to include invisible text (the same color as the background, or just one pixel high) on the bottom of the page. There have been reports of some particularly unscrupulous site owners including the entire dictionary in this manner! The smarter search engines check for this now – those sites tend to get zapped.
Another trick is to include lots of keywords at the bottom or top of the page, or to include a “story” which has nothing to do with the site but serves merely to include lots of keywords.
There are many, many other tricks, and the smarter search engines are evolving and becoming better able to deal with this kind of thing. Thus the war goes on.
So how do you get your site listed near the top? Well, what search engines try and do is figure out if your site is legitimate or not based upon certain criteria. What they want to see is:
- Meta tags for keywords (description and keywords)
- Alt tags on graphics
- a title
What are alt tags? This is some text which is to be displayed if the browser does not display graphics. It is considered good practice to include these tags regardless of search engines specifically because many people turn off graphics to improve their surfing speed. This causes something to be displayed instead of just an empty spot.
It’s real easy to include alt tags. Look at the example below.
<img border="0" src="../images/hdalttags.gif" alt="Be sure to include descriptive ALT tags on every image. Many search engines use this data." width="418" height="66">
That’s all there is to it. Oh yes, remember, if you include the ALT tags it is best to also include the WIDTH and HEIGHT tags (these are a good idea anyway).