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Category: Meta Information

Search Engine Tools

Geographic Target – If a given site targets users in a particular location, webmasters can provide Google with information that will help determine how that site appears in its country-specific search results, and also improve Google search results for geographic queries.

Preferred Domain – The preferred domain is the one that a webmaster would like used to index their site’s pages. If a webmaster specifies a preferred domain as www.example.com and Google finds a link to that site that is formatted as example.com, Google will treat that link as if it were pointing at www.example.com.

URL Parameters – You can indicate to Google information about each parameter on your site, such as “sort=price” and “sessionid=2“. This helps Google crawl your site more efficiently.

Crawl Rate – The crawl rate affects the speed (but not the frequency) of Googlebot’s requests during the crawl process.

Malware – Google will inform you if it has found any malware on your site. Malware creates a bad user experience, and hurts your rankings.

Crawl Errors – If Googlebot encounters significant errors while crawling your site, such as 404s, it will report these.

HTML Suggestions – Google looks for search engine-unfriendly HTML elements such as issues with meta descriptions and title tags.

Meta Tags Make Up

Meta tags were originally intended as a proxy for information about a website’s content. Several of the basic meta tags are listed below, along with a description of their use.

Meta Robots

The Meta Robots tag can be used to control search engine crawler activity (for all of the major engines) on a per-page level. There are several ways to use Meta Robots to control how search engines treat a page:

  • index/noindex tells the engines whether the page should be crawled and kept in the engines’ index for retrieval. If you opt to use “noindex,” the page will be excluded from the index. By default, search engines assume they can index all pages, so using the “index” value is generally unnecessary.
  • follow/nofollow tells the engines whether links on the page should be crawled. If you elect to employ “nofollow,” the engines will disregard the links on the page for discovery, ranking purposes, or both. By default, all pages are assumed to have the “follow” attribute.
    Example: <META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>
  • noarchive is used to restrict search engines from saving a cached copy of the page. By default, the engines will maintain visible copies of all pages they have indexed, accessible to searchers through the cached link in the search results.
  • nosnippet informs the engines that they should refrain from displaying a descriptive block of text next to the page’s title and URL in the search results.
  • noodp/noydir are specialized tags telling the engines not to grab a descriptive snippet about a page from the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) or the Yahoo! Directory for display in the search results.

The X-Robots-Tag HTTP header directive also accomplishes these same objectives. This technique works especially well for content within non-HTML files, like images.

Trustworthiness

Websites that have earned trusted status are often treated differently from those that have not.

SEO’s have commented on the double standards that exist for judging big brand, high-importance sites compared to newer, independent sites. For the search engines, trust most likely has to do with the links your domain has earned. If you publish low-quality, duplicate content on your personal blog, then buy several links from spammy directories, you’re likely to encounter considerable ranking problems. However, if you post that same content on Wikipedia, even with the same spammy links pointing to the URL, it would likely still rank tremendously well. Such is the power of domain trust and authority.

Trust can also be established through inbound links. A little duplicate content and a few suspicious links are far more likely to be overlooked if your site has earned hundreds of links from high-quality, editorial sources like CNN.com or Cornell.edu.

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