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Planning and building a navigation system for your website - the basics of good navigation
The lowdown

PART TWO: The basics about how search engines work

» Index
» Introduction
» How it works
» Planning
» Keywords
» Optimise code
» Design issues
» Layouts
» Submitting
» Conclusion
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urban75 web project Boost your site's search engine ranking
The mysterious workings of search engines unraveled
By Mike Slocombe for Internet Magazine, May 2004

Because different search engines work in different ways, there's no 'one-size-fits-all' solution, but there are some tried and trusted ways to improve your rankings.

Most search engines work by despatching automated software 'bots (also known as 'crawlers', 'spiders' or 'robots') into the web.

These little puppies scamper along the wire, following links, sniffing for keywords and indexing any content they find before transmitting data back to the search engine database.

When a user types in a search phrase, the search engine software will then shuffle through its database, fire up some nifty algorithms and then rank pages in order of relevance, based on the information beamed back to base by its bots.

A search engine robot slipping on a piece of discarded HTML But these 'bots can be picky little fellas, and if they don't like the look of your page, they may not fully index all your site's content or - even worse - may ignore you completely.

So the trick is to turn your tatty old page into a seductive, velvet-draped, virtual boudoir that will scream 'come hither' to any passing 'bot.

But with millions of competing sites online, how do attract the attention of these roaming, romeo bots?

Key to a site being ranked is its homepage. This has to be a veritable strumpet of a page, shamelessly flaunting its wares to the world and screaming, "Hello, bots!"

Different bots get excited by different things. Some become very moist at the sight of a bulging set of META tags, while others will be titillated by a well stocked <TITLE> tag.


All of them, however, will be keen to get acquainted with your keywords.

These are the words and phrases that are used to describe the content of your site, and they should be liberally peppered all over your homepage (i.e in the page title, meta tags, links, ALT text and the body copy).

Your choice of keywords is crucial because these are the words that the search engines robots will associate with your site and send back to the search engine database.

Not all search engines, however, use automated bots to index websites - directories like Yahoo use real living breathing humans to catalogue and index submitted websites into their databases.

Naturally, you'll want to score good rankings with every type of search engine, and the best way to do that is create a great website on a given topic, update it regularly and follow these rules below!

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