Q. How can I improve the ranking of my pages in the search results?

A. There are several things you can do to make sure your pages show up in search results, or show up nearer the top.

  1. Make sure your pages have meaningful titles using <title></title> tags. It's a very common mistake to forget to give a new web page a title (try going to Google and search for "Untitled-1"). Pages with the search terms in the title will be ranked slightly higher than they would with the search terms in the body of the file. Try to make the title short and specific.
  2. Use header tags (<h1>, <h2>, etc) to define the headings in your pages. If you've been using font size tags to make larger text for headings, your page isn't getting the rank it should have. For example, <h1>English Department</h1> will get a much higher ranking than <font size="+3">English Department</font>.
  3. Use <meta> tags to define keywords for your pages. This gives your page a list of keywords which will get a very high weight when searching. This can be used to get around some problems with common synonyms for words in the document. For example, if a document is a telephone directory, possible keywords could be "telephone phone directory book list". Now, regardless of what text is actually in the document, it can be found if these keywords are used in the search. This meta tag should be in the head of your HTML file. Example:
    <META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="phone telephone online electronic directory">
  4. Use a <meta> tag to give your page a description. Using a meta description allows you to specify an alternate excerpt (description) of a page. This is especially helpful if all of your pages begin with the same banner, navigation links, or other recurring text.
    <META NAME=" description" CONTENT="This is the English Department's home page, and includes information about our programs, courses, faculty and students.">
  5. Use text words in the body of your page that visitors might use to search for it. All text in your document will be included in the search engine and searchable. Images of text are not searchable. If the only occurence of an important word or phrase in your document is an image, those words will not get your page as a search result. To make your image text searchable and accessible, that text should be duplicated in the image's ALT text (especially if the image is a link), and/or in the text near the image.
  6. Make sure your page is housed on one of the campus web servers and is browsable from one of the search engine's starting pages. See the FAQ "Can I include my pages in the campus search engine?" for the full list of starting pages.
  7. If after doing all of the above, your pages still don't show up, or show up high enough in search engine results, contact the IT Web Office and request a consultation.

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