If you spend any amount of time online, then it’s pretty much a certainty that at some time you have done a search on a search engine like Yahoo, Google, MSN or Ask. You were then most likely inundated with pages and pages of possible results.

Is the order in which the websites appear just a random grouping or have they been listed in a specific order? The science and art of making web pages attractive to search engines is called “search engine optimization”. It is an elaborate and complicated system used to determine where a website appears in the search results.

Look at the bottom of the results page next time you search for something. If what you search for brings up many results, then you will most likely see a list of page numbers (normally written in blue) for you to click. if what typed in is not on the first page. Studies and research show that, on average, surfers do not look further than the second page. Therefore, it is very important to webmasters that their websites to be listed on the first two pages of results.

There are many techniques that webmasters use in order to improve their search engine ranking.

The first technique that most webmasters (or website designers) use is meta tag analyzing. Meta tags are special HTML tags that provide information about a web page. Search engines can easily read Meta tags but they are written with special type of text that is invisible to internet users. Go to your favorite website. Now, up at the top of the browser, you see a ‘View’ button. Click on this and it will open to show a list of choices. Click on ‘Page View’.

This will open a window with all sorts of strange characters on it. This is what the computer sees in order to produce the site. At the top of this page, you will find the Meta tags.

Although search engines rely on these meta tags to accurately index the web sites, these tags alone are not enough to have a web site receive top ranking.

Web crawlers are computer programs that browse the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner. They are used to locate and catalog websites. They can also be called automatic indexers, web spiders, bots, web robots, and/or worms. Web crawlers locate and go to a website and “crawl” all over it, reading the algorithms and storing the data. Once they have collected all the information from the website they bring it back to the search engine where it is indexed. Some search engines, however, use web crawlers to harvest e-mail addresses and other information. Each search engine has its own individual web crawlers and variations on how they gather information.

The proper use and placement of keywords is another method that can help catch the attention of web crawlers and improve ranking. Let’s say you had built a site about the history of the Seminole Indians. Think of what words you would use as a search term if you were looking for information on how they made canoes in the wilderness. These are what you might use as some of the keywords for such a site.

Although many webmasters prefer to design their sites for maximum search engine optimization immediately, there is nothing to keep you from making small improvements at any time.

Search engine optimization can be a confusing and elusive creature. It has many rules and is ever changing… much like everything else on the Internet. Sometimes it seems like it’s just a crap shoot!

Michelle A. Hoffmann is a Work at Home mother of 4, website designer,internet marketer,ezine editor/publisher/owner as well as wife to Internet marketing consultant, Udo A. Hoffmann. You can visit her website at www.24karatmarketer.com or her blogs at Confessions of an Internet Junky,The Real Inside and Get The Skinny on FAT

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