Friday, November 3, 2006

A little SEO-ing...

SEO or Search Engine Optimization means just that. Optimizing your site to make it Search Engine Friendly. It helps to increase the number and quality of the visitors to your site. Talking about SEO will take up a whole new blog in itself. There are many rules and shortcuts to get you indexed on a search engine faster and higher. In this post, I am going to tell you a seldom used method to get yourself indexed correctly by any search-engine.

Search engines display their results using information they get off the site itself. For example, most search engine displays the title, description, URL and some even display the author's mailing address. This is shown in the pic below.

The search-engines have various methods to get these informations. But if we let them do it, it might not look as good as we want it to and of course it will take lots of time. For example, we might need a different description than the one used on the site. For this, we can use the <meta> tags of the site. <meta> tags are HTML elements that the spider (bot) reads for such information. I'll explain how to get it and where to put it.

The basic form of an HTML page is

It consists of tags that define the HTML document. The HTML document is divided into the head and the body. The body contains the content of the site and the head contains the title, scripting, style-sheets, <meta> tags, etc. So the head is where we are interested. It has been given a bold font for identification. As you can see, the title is given in the head. Now onto the <meta> tags.

For us, mainly there are three <meta> items of interest. The Keywords, Description and Author.

Keywords: These are like tags. They are used by a search engine to relate a particular search string to its respective site(s). For example, in youtube, if a keyword in the <meta> tag is set as online video, and a search is conducted for online video, the search engine knows that youtube is a potential result. Get the drift?

Description: Description is a what it's name implies. A short and concise explanation of the site. It is what the user sees in the result page beneath the title of the site. Make it eye-catching and people will inadvertently click on the result!

Author: Self-explanatory, it shows your e-mail address to the world and makes it easier for people to contact you. Use with caution.

So how do we add these to our site? I will give the general form to use...
<title>The Simple Blog</title>

<meta name="Keywords" content="the, keywords, separated, by, commas">
<meta name="Description" content="the description of the site. usually upto 200-250 characters can be used">
<meta name="Author" content="">

The area of interest in the above code is in bold and I have color-coded it for easy reference. The words in red are the tags and they are required. The ones in blue specify what sort of a <meta> tag it is. And the ones in green specify the content of the <meta> tag. The part in the quotes is all that has to be edited by you. The rest is self-explanatory.

Add this code to the HTML part of your site and you are set to go. As the spiders 'crawl' your site, they will take the meta data into account.

If all this coding is not for you, then I suggest an easy to use webpage where all you have to do is enter the content of the tags and then the site will generate meta tags for you. Happy blogging everyone...