How Your Site Appears to a Search Engine

n order to successfully optimize a website it is important to have a basic understanding of how search engines work. Without this basic understanding any attempt to optimize your site could be counterproductive. This article provides an overview of how search engines work and see the pages of your site.

Search engines find websites using special software referred to as spiders (search bots). These spiders crawl the internet moving from website to website using links as channels that take them from page to page. The more inbound links your site has the more frequently it is crawled. If any changes have been made to your site the spider will take notice and collect this information.

It is important to know that spiders primarily read the content of a site and that mages are transparent. The only information a spider can collect about an image is from the alt attribute associated with the img tag and surrounding text. For example, if you are trying to optimize your site for the keyword “Toronto SEO Company” and have an image of your company and team members you would perhaps include an alt attribute with they keyword embedded such as alt=”seo company Toronto” and a title attribute such as title=”Affordable SEO Services in Toronto” in the img tag. In addition, you may also want to include a caption below the image such as “Our SEO Team in Toronto”. This also provides a good opportunity to increase the keyword density of the page as long as you don’t unnaturally stuff keywords.

Spiders crawl the web from using hyperlinks so it is important to know that sites or pages within a site that require passwords can not be traversed by spiders. As a result these pages won’t be indexed or contribute to the overall PageRank of your site. As spiders traverse links they also collect information about these links. It is important to ensure that appropriate anchor text is used and it is relevant to the pages linked. If a link includes the anchor text “Toronto Adwords Management” it should link to pages within your site that contains relevant information about Adwords management in Toronto. If a spider traverses a link within your site and discovers the pages don’t match the anchor text and no common theme is presented then it will confuse spiders. If this happens a spider may not finish crawling your site and regard it as a dodgy.

The easiest way to know how search engines view your site is with an All-Text Browser. This type of browser only displays text and links and can help you gain an understanding of how search engines see your site so that you can make improvements. A text-only browser will ignore images and graphics and only process the text and links found on a page similar to a spider. Lynx Viewer is an example of an All-Text Browser and is available for free at http://www.delorie.com/web/lynxview.html. In order to use it you will have to create a htm file called delorie.htm and upload it to your root directory. This file is required to confirm that you are the actual owner of the site. Once this is completed all you have to do is simply enter your URL and see what your site looks like in a text-only browser.

Knowing how search engines work can help a web designer or SEO specialist strategically build a site that is SEO friendly. A search engine can’t see images and can only read the text on a site. Websites that use passwords to access pages with in a site stop spiders from crawling these links and prevents them from being indexed. When linking pages within your site be careful to include relevant anchor text that matches the content of the linked pages. In order to better understand how a search engine sees your site you can use an All-Text Browser which only displays the text and links found within your site.

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