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Improving Your Listing on Google

After submitting and resubmitting many websites to Google, I have gathered the following points that will help your understanding of what Google indexes and how Google searches. This article is an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) article that focuses on Google but should help with all of the top search engines.

What Things Google Indexes
• Google indexes image ALT tags, so make sure that you include descriptions to all important images on a page, especially for images that have text in it.

• Google doesn't index text found in the NOFRAMES tag found on frame pages, but will index the TITLE and META DESCRIPTION tags, so make sure that you have meaningful information in these tags.

• Around the beginning of 2003, Google started to index the META DESCRIPTION tag (I might be mistaken), but I don't know if Google uses the META KEYWORDS tag.

• Google seems to indexes the entire TITLE tag but will only display a maximum of 64 characters as the page's title when seen in search results. Titles that are over 64 characters, Google trims the title and adds three dots to the end.

• Google indexes the complete text found in listboxes, but when search results are shown, it will only display the text of the first entry found in the listbox. Even though it only displays the first entry in the results, it search through all the text in the listbox when it runs queries.

How Does Google Generate Results
By default, google automatically excludes what it has defined as 'common words', which are included below (for more information, click here).

& a I on as an at of is in
the and who for how this what will where when

Keep these keywords in mind when you write your TITLE and META DESCRIPTION tags and try not to use them much in these tags, because most people don't type the special search engine query expressions (ex. +, ", -, etc.). The major advantage of any search engine over the next is the ability of getting the best results for any query without the visitor having to use the special search engine query expressions, and that's what Google has over Altavista, FAST, Teoma, Inktomi, and other search engines.

Use The Most Popular Keyword Arrangement and Use Plural Keywords

Google also seems to be quite different than other search engines when it comes to query keyword placement, which means that google is great doesn't give the same results as great is google. When Google is queried, Google places emphasis on the arrangement of keywords in the results that it displays. Results that have the keywords in the same arrangement as the query will have a better position than results that have the keywords but in a different arrangement. So you should check what is the most commonly searched arrangement of the keywords you are trying to target for your webpages. You should also see if the plural of a keyword is used more than its singular form, because if Google is queried with film it will not find pages that have films and vice-versa. So if a keyword's singular and plural are widely used, than you should consider using both of them in your TITLE and META tags, as well as in the text on your page.

Don't Use Multiple META DESCRIPTIONs

One thing that you should not do at all, is have multiple pages of a website that have the same META DESCRIPTION tag, even if the TITLE tag is changing. I had a bad experience with this because Google is able to detect similar pages and when it displays results that seem to be similar, it automatically hides them. What happened with me, Google had indexed about 25 pages of a website I was working on and I used the site: attribute to confirm which pages were indexed, but it only showed me five of the pages and then it showed me the following text (for more information on how to use the site: attribute click here).

In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 5 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.

So I clicked the link to see the omitted results and found all of the missing results had the same META DESCRIPTION as one of the 5 entries it displayed. From my investigation into the problem, it seems that Google behaves like the following when it brings results to a query. First Google generates a list of all the results according to its ranking system and then it extracts that first 300 text characters from each of the pages. Then it goes from the first entry downwards and checks if any of the pages contain the same 300 characters. If pages are found with the same 300 characters, then the lower entries that have the same 300 characters are removed from the results. When I say the first 300 text characters from a webpage, Google adds the META DESCRIPTION tag to the beginning of the text found on the page.

To solve the problem on my pages, I simply removed the META DESCRIPTION and when Google indexed them all again, they were no longer in the omitted results. Doing so means that these entries are more likely to appear when results are displayed, which means that I will get more daily hits from Google. Even though I removed the META DESCRIPTION, I advice you to spend the time and write good META DESCRIPTIONs for each of your webpages. I have even made a program called Meta Tags Builder to make it easy for you to add it.

Never Use META REFRESH That Is Less Than 30 Seconds

Most search engines will not index pages that have a small value in the META REFRESH tag, but I have read that Google doesn't really care about it, but everyone wants to have their webpages indexed on all search engines. So I advice that you use the META REFRESH with a value no less than 30 (Altavista will not index pages with it less than 30). I would advice not to use it at all on pages that you definitely want indexed but there are alternatives to it. I personally advice the use of the javascript below to do the refreshing as most people have javascript enabled.

<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript" TYPE="text/javascript">
 <!--
  if (window != top) { top.location.href = "http://www.new-url-address.com/"; }
 // -->
</SCRIPT>

But for those who don't have javascript enabled, the only other alternative is to have a text link that they can click if they are not directed with the javascript.

Things To Remember Before You Submit Your Website To Google
You should making sure that the main keywords that your webpage is focused towards are included on your page, even if you have to place them in an ALT tag, make sure that they are on the page. If you can't figure out what keywords that you should focus on in a webpage, Google has a keyword search facility that will help you with it, it is here. I would also advice that you check other webpage that relate to yours, and check their TITLE and META tags.

Google's Index Refresh Rate and What Pages Are Indexed

Google takes about a month to refresh its index and add new submitted webpages to it's index, and it continually refreshes different portions of its index throughout the month. If you want to decrease the time it takes to get listed on Google, then the best two ways to do it are 1) get a webpage that is listed on Google to add a link to your website, 2) get your website listed on ODP (Open Directory Project). You can submit your website to Google at Google's submit page, and I suggest that you only submit the frontpage, as Googlebot does a good job crawling entire websites.

Once your website is found in Google's index, you can check which pages are found in Google's index by using the site: keyword. First, find a word that is found on all of your webpages and that isn't a common word. Then type the word, followed by site: and then your website's host url (ex. google.com). For example, I want to check all the pages Google has indexed for microsoft.com and I know that the word 'microsoft' appears on all of these pages, so my search query would be microsoft site:microsoft.com, click here to see it.

If you find that only the frontpage of your website has been indexed, then it is recommend that you submit the main navigation menu pages, but don't go crazy and submit each page on your website.

Why Aren't My Pages Index On Google

You should remember that Google isn't able to crawl webpages that are linked through drop-down menus, so if you have a drop-down menu that links all to your webpages, add text or image links on your frontpage to help search engine find the rest of your pages. Google will index dynamic webpages like ASP, PHP, and CGI but it will not index these pages if the http responseCache-Control is set to no-store.

I hope the above will help increase your understanding of Google and the way it works. If you have any comments on the article, please do send it to us.

Good articles and links

Successful Site in 12 months with Google Alone
Google WebmasterWorld FAQ
Google News (Forum for webmasters who talk about Google)
Google's Webmaster FAQs
Google Update Monitor
Google's Update History

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