The Hidden Things on Your Websites Search Engines Look for

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle

Jan 07
Collage on Slater’s 50/50 Home page

Search engines spiders look at what you don’t see behind the pictures on your website.

What you don’t see on the website still affects you

Although the first impression is critical when it comes to websites, there’s more to an effective website than meets the eye. For marketing purposes, what you don’t see can have a major impact on the ability of your site to be found by people who want the products and services you provide. It would be like locating your business on a busy highway then erecting a wall between your company and the road so nobody could see it as you drove by.

So what can you do to help your website be found? This critique will focus on Internet marketing. Typically, good graphic designers lack the marketing background to maximize the effectiveness of your site for you.

Obviously there are a lot of Internet marketing activities you can do to have your website found, including pay-per-click advertising and social networking. You can also use traditional marketing, such as mailing postcards and purchasing newspaper inserts. This article focuses instead on the things you can do in your website design to become more attractive to the Internet search engines.

Meta tags and alternate text

Although it takes a programmer or web designer to explain the differences and purposes of meta tags versus alternate text, from a marketing viewpoint, the important thing is that these are areas visible in the source code of your website that the search engine’s software, called spiders because they “crawl” the “web” looking for information they need to catalog the sites on the Internet.

Some of the things which the spiders see that we normally don’t are the following:

• Title: This one does show up in the tab for that page in your browser as well as what the search engines display in organic searches.
• Body Title: Seems to be the same as body title in my WordPress blog theme
• Meta Title: This is a more detailed title for the search engines. If your software posts a meta title, it supersedes the Title on search engine organic searches.
• Meta Description: This shows up in your source code as meta name=”Description.” Google displayed this from a website for their result in the organic search though it did not use it for my blog post when it showed up. Nevertheless, it uses this information when ranking your page.
• Categories: This is used in blogs and some other programs. Categories are more universal groupings, like “restaurants.”
• Keywords (also called tags in some programs, like WordPress blogs – keywords show up in your site’s website as meta name=”Keywords”):
o These are the main words that people would search on to find your page, like “gourmet hamburger, gourmet burger, design your own burger, 50/50 burger, 50/50, Anaheim restaurants, Anaheim gourmet burger, sports bar”
• Alternate text or alt text for pictures: Use this to label the picture for the search engines and for people whose Internet connection is slow at loading graphics and pictures.
• Captions for pictures: While picture captions will typically appear below the picture in blogs and on web pages, they are additional content that needs to reinforce the theme of that page.


Here are some main points to remember about keywords:
• Be sure to include keywords in the meta information on your web page.
o This is one of the few areas that Slater’s seems to have missed as I found no keywords in the Landing Page or the Home Page.
o Search engines look for keywords to help rank the site for organic searches, i.e. those searches that you do not pay for, as opposed to pay-per-click where you do pay to show up.
• Content keywords: The search engines look for a match between the content and the keywords so your keywords need to show up in your documents.
• For more impact, strive to get your main keywords into the document title.
o I usually make sure I have some keyword or keyword phrase at the start of my meta title if it did not fit into the page title that I want readers to see.
• Use keywords in your alt text or, at least, in your captions for pictures

Alternate text missing for Slater’s Home page images collage

This screen print is for the picture I used at the top of this article from Slater’s 50/50’s Home Page.

Element Properties for images collage on Slater’s 50/50 Home page

There is no alternate text for the images collage on Slater’s 50/50 Home page.

Note that there is no “Alternate text” here. When you put pictures on your website, it’s important to use alternate text for at least two reasons:
1. Search engines can’t yet read pictures and graphics. They read the alternate text instead. Used properly the alternate text will contain keywords to reinforce your content and improving your organic search ranking.
2. If people visiting your site are looking at the text only display or if they have a slow connection, what they will see instead of a picture is the alternate text.

The lack of alternate text with the pictures on pages I checked is another of the few examples where Slater’s 50/50 fails to take full advantage of Internet marketing secrets.

Web design skills and marketing copywriting need to be a team for best results

Developing a website takes two skills to get the most from it. The first is website design. This designer has the first impact on whether visitors stay to read your headlines and content or click off immediately. The second skill is Internet marketing. It requires an understanding of keywords and copywriting but also the hidden side of a web page. A significant amount of the marketing impact is made behind the scenes with meta tags and alternate text as well as with using keywords to match your content and, vice versa, including these keywords in your content. The benefit of this effort comes when you turn up on the first few pages in organic searches. This saves you the money needed otherwise to show up using pay-per-click advertising.

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About the Author

My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.