We all know the importance of having a Web site rank well in search engine results for searches on specific keywords/phrases. If your Web site doesn’t have a page appearing in the top 10 search engine result positions (SERPs) the chances of someone clicking on your listing, and actually visiting your site, drop dramatically. If you’re not in the top 20 you have almost no chance that someone will scan through the SERPs that far to find your page.
Understand the Search Engines and Search Engine Spiders
So how does your site get into a search engine? A search engine obtains your URL either by you submitting your site directly to the search engine or by others linking to your site. Then, at a time of its choosing, a search engine sends out its spider (or “bot”) to visit your site. Once there, the spider starts reading all the text in the body of the page, including markup elements, all links to other pages and to external sites, plus elements from the page head including some meta tags (depending on the search engine) and the title tag.
The same thing applies to forms; spiders can’t fill out forms and click “submit.” In addition to content, the search engine looks for what other sites, or pages on the same site, are linking to that page. The more links to a given page, the more important that page is. Getting other sites to link to your site is very important, but not part of optimizing your site and will be covered in a future column.
From a site optimization standpoint, make sure you link to your important pages from more than just the index page (e.g., create a primary navigation that appears on all pages.)