Search engines hunt through the Web for pages to list, and you can help them (and get better rankings) by listing the keywords you want associated with your page. By listing those keywords, you tell search engines what keywords should bring up your page.
Publicizing Your Search Terms
To list search-engine keywords, you use one of the <meta> elements in your page's <head> element. There are usually two <meta> elementsone with its name attribute set to "description", where you can give a description of your page in the <meta> element's content attribute. You set the name attribute of the other <meta> element to "keywords", and then give a comma-separated list of keywords that describe the content of your page to the content attribute of the <meta> element.
Here's an example for the hamster page:
<html> <head> <meta name="description" content="All about hamsters!"> <meta name="keywords" content="hamster,hamsters, rodents, pets"> <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="http://rssmaniac.com/hamster.xml"> <title>My Hamster Page</title> </head> <body> <center> <h1>Welcome to my hamster page!</h1> <img src="/books/1/255/1/html/2/hamster.jpg"> <br> Yes, it's true, everyone loves hamsters. <br> How could you not? <br> I write a lot on hamsters, <br> would you like to subscribe <br> to my super hamster RSS feed? <br> (What's RSS? Click <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rss"> here</a> for more info.) <br> Just use the XML button below to subscribe. <br> <a href="http://rssmaniac.com/hamster.xml"> <img src="/books/1/255/1/html/2/xml.gif" height="11" width="24" border = "0"></a> <br> Here's a great hamster page: <a href="http://www.hamsterhideout.com/"> Hamster Hideout</a> </center> </body> </html>
Selecting the right keywords is an art. Bear in mind that if you select keywords in common use, your feed will be buried in the list of results.
People usually search for more than one keyword at once (hamster and nutrition, for example), so it pays to try and come up with good keyword combinations.
Finding the Right Search Terms
You can do some research into what the best terms or combination of terms would be for your Web page. A good place to start is Yahoo's marketing help page, http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/rc/srch/ (Figure 8.8).
Figure 8.8. Yahoo's marketing help page includes tools to help you select the best keywords.
This help page has many resources, including the Keyword Selector Tool (Figure 8.9).
Figure 8.9. Use the Keyword Selector Tool at yahoo.com to start a list of the best search terms for your site.
Enter the search term you're interested in using, and this tool tells you how popular it is. Not only that, you'll also see what search-term combinations are popular.
After you find a number of popular combinations, you'll want to include those keywords in your page. This will give you an enormous edge over someone who doesn't list keywords at all.
The search terms people use change all the time, so if you're serious about increasing traffic to your site and the number of subscribers to your RSS feed, try to keep on top of the most current search terms. As of this writing, for example, avian flu is a search term being entered by more and more people.
Avoid using trademarked terms in your list of keywords in your Web pages. Using such terms without permission could get you into trouble, especially if it looks like you're claiming ownership of those trademarks when they actually belong to someone else.
Google gauges the importance of your site in part by how many sites link to your site. Accordingly, some people think Google has devalued the use of <meta> elements. To be considered a significant site in Google's estimation, at least, you should try to get as many legitimate sites as possible to link to yours. A little marketing work here, such as contacting the Webmasters of similar pages to get them to include a link to your site on their site, can pay off in a big way.
For more ideas to increase traffic to your Web site, go to Google's Webmaster help page at www.google.com/webmasters (Figure 8.10).
Figure 8.10. Use Google's Webmaster help page to get tips on marketing your Web site.
Among other things, Google discusses how it ranks pagesbriefly (Figure 8.11). You can see such explanations at www.google.com/webmasters/4.html. Google uses a combination of 100 factors to rate a page, and that combination is always changing. In most cases, even Google is not certain how high a page will rank until its software has judged the page.
Figure 8.11. Google's Webmaster help page explains page rankings.
If your page's title includes the keyword being searched for, Google often assumes your page is about that keyword and ranks it higher than other pages that only list the keyword in a <meta> element.