358 Part III: Designing Sites for Long-Term Success

358 Part III: Designing Sites for Long-Term Success Now look at Figure 14-2, which is an exact reproduction of the search results found on such search engines as Excite, MSN, and AltaVista. Figure 14-2: An example of how a wide number of major search engines implement the meta description. As you can see, the search engine has catalogued my description. Without an effective description in place, you may end up with other components falling into the ranking first, as shown in Figure 14-3. Figure 14-3: Without a meta description in place, the navigation appears before any discernable content. Follow these general guidelines when creating descriptions: Include a call to action that encourages users to select your site. This will vary depending on the product and services you want. My description might be more effective if I used this approach, which might read Visit Molly E. Holzschlag and learn the most current topics and techniques in Web design. Be brief. Stick to 25 words or less. Be clear and meaningful. Beautiful Web sites doesn t mean much, really. Follow that link and you might find a site designer, or someone s personal list of favorite sites. tip Including top-level meaningful keywords in your description is a helpful way of improving your document s keyword optimization. Secret #232: Using Targeted Words in Headers Not too long ago, many major search engines began looking at content either right away, or after grabbing a meta description (should one exist). H1 level headers get a lot of attention from many engines, because from a structural standpoint they are meant to describe the most important topic on the page. Once again, in the frenzy to increase ranking, suddenly pages were appearing with multiple H1 headers packed with keywords. This practice is not only considered bad form and just plain rude, but it doesn t sit too well with those search engines using it as a legitimate means of addressing descriptions. But the proper use of H1 elements can still help. That means one H1 element per page, tops. Add your keywords in an appropriate and clear manner, and you re helping everyone, not just the site s potential rank.

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