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Web Sites Lost in Cyberspace:

How to Ensure your Web Site is Found

Brenda J. Gerth
Computing User Services
University of Victoria, Canada


Abstract: A significant number of resources are expended on developing and maintaining University of Victoria Web sites. As student recruitment initiatives become increasingly more competitive, the ability for potential students and associates to locate departmental, faculty and staff Web sites, becomes critical. The emphasis of developing a University Web presence began by "getting the site published" and progressed to improving the design and usability of the site. However, a critical question remained unanswered, "What initiatives can be implemented to assist potential students and associates find the information they seek on University Web sites?" The focus of this paper details the design techniques and strategies that organizations can employ to help ensure their Web site is found by people searching the Internet using the Web's free search services.


Finding Your Web Page on the Internet

The main purpose of creating a Web page is to publish information on the Internet for others to read. Effective design techniques and strategies can be implemented to help ensure that search engines will find and improve the site ranking results of your web page when users search the Internet for information contained on your web site:

Prepare your Web Page with Appropriate HTML Tags

Summary Paragraph To optimize the ranking results of a Web page by search engines, the content must be carefully and succinctly written. Search engines index and rank the text placed at the beginning of the page. Write short pages containing substantive content, choosing keywords and keyword phrases that reflect the content of the Web page. Position the most discriminating keywords at the beginning of the Web page and within HTML tags to improve the search engine's site-ranking of your Web page.

HTML Title Tag The title is the most important element indexed by search engines and is the first line of information displayed by a search engine in the listing of pages found. The title must engage the viewer's interest and encourage the viewer to continue reading the description, and the description should compel the viewer to click on the link that loads the Web page.

<TITLE>Finding Web Pages using Search Engines</TITLE>

HTML Comment Tag Search engines that do not recognize Meta tags often index the comment field and use it as the description in the listing of search engine results.

<!-- Finding your Web site on the Internet. The main purpose of creating a Web page is to publish information on the Internet for others to read. What can you do to ensure search engines will find your Web page when users search the Internet?-->

HTML ALT Tag Attribute Search engines will not index graphic images. Use the ALT attribute to provide a method for search engines to index the graphic image and provide a text description of what the image represents for browsers that do not display graphic images.

<IMG SRC="sengine.gif" ALT="Search Engine Indexing Chart">

HTML META Tags Many search engines use Meta tags to index Web pages and respond to a searcher's query. Their purpose is to provide information about a Web page without the search engine scanning the entire document.

The description element defines the summary that some search engines display after the Web page has been selected by a keyword search. The description should be brief and describe what is found on the Web page, as well as encourage the searcher to click on the link that loads the Web page.

<META NAME="DESCRIPTION" CONTENT="Finding your Web site on the Internet. The main purpose of creating a Web page is to publish information on the Internet for others to read. What can you do to ensure search engines will find your Web page when users search the Internet?">

The keywords element includes the carefully selected keywords that reflect the content of the Web page. Specify keywords and keyword phrases you anticipate the user would choose, including common misspellings. Separate each keyword or phrase with a comma. Avoid "spamming" by not repeating the same keyword excessively!

<META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="promoting web sites,website,web site,find,finding,searching, finding web sites,web page promotion,promote your web site,search,searchable,marketing,web page,finding sites,search engines,finding pages,directories,information,promo,register,locate,web development,internet marketing,internet,increase hits,increased,locating pages,hits,locate,promotion,sight,internet promotion">

Descriptive URL Choose a descriptive URL when naming the Web page. For example, on a Web page containing year 2000 information,  the URL /y2000/y2kinfo.htm will more likely be found and receive a higher rating from search engines than /web/info.htm.

Avoid Features that Hinder Search Engine Indexing

Some design features will hinder the ability of search engines to index web pages. Without special consideration, search engines cannot index web pages that contain frames, image maps, Java and Perl scripts and CGI directories.  The use of invisible or tiny text, pages with a high META fresh rate or words repeated excessively on a page will be recognized as spamming (falsely improving the ranking position of the page) and will not be indexed.

Register your Web Page with Search Engines and Directories

It is a good idea to register your web pages with search engines because non-submitted web pages may take several months to be indexed and not all search engines use robots to automatically find and index web pages. Unless you submit your key web pages with the popular search engines and directories, it is unlikely that search engines will find your web page. For best results, register web pages manually or use an automated submission service. Resubmit the web page if the original submission was not accepted. To prolong the listing of your web site in search engine databases, frequently update the content of your web page and the corresponding last updated date.

Manual Web Page Registration

Before registering Web pages, determine how each search engine displays its found listings and read the Help pages to confirm your submission adheres to the criteria for each search engine. Search engine robots require the Web page URL. Directories require more information such as the URL, title, description, subject category and keywords. It may be better to register your site manually to ensure Web page registration is handled correctly for each search engine.

Automated Submission Services

Free submission services are available to automate Web page registration. Some search engines will not accept registration by an automated submission service and registration may take much longer.


Free search engine submission service, site inspection, and Meta tag builder:http://siteowner.linkexchange.com/

Free search engine ranking service and Meta tag builder:http://www.rankthis.com/


Clay, B. (1999). Search Engine Optimization Promotion Tools.[OnLine].Available:http://www.bruceclay.com/. [1999, August 5].

Sullivan, D. (1999). A Webmaster's Guide To Search Engines [Online].Available:http://searchenginewatch.com/webmasters/index.html. [1999, August 16].

Visual Metrics Corporation (1999). Tutorial: Guide to Effective Searching of the Internet [Online]. Available: http://www.thewebtools.com/tutorial/tutorial.htm. [1999, August 16].

WDVL internet.com (1999). How in the World (Wide Web) will they Find me? [Online]. Available:
http://wdvl.internet.com/Location/Promotion/ [1999, August 12].

18 October, 1999 Brenda Gerth bgerth@uvic.ca. Computing User Services, University of Victoria.

Short paper presented at WebNet 99 Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
Copyright 1999. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Distributed via the Web by permission of AACE.

Document Location: http://web.uvic.ca/~bgerth/findingwebpages.html

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