Using proper html codes for search engine rankings

By | April 11, 2006

Time for a short yet effective post. As you all have been able to read I’ve been doing some research into optimizing for higher rankings in search engines. And belief it or not the type of html codes your webserver sends to the search engine actually influences your rankings. The rank increase may vary, but I think it is worth to at least look at it.

So what is the problem? Lets start of with the easiest of them all. Say we removed a page and we have a custom error page. “Ah that’s nice”, this is what a visitor might think. But lets look at it from the search engines point of view.

SE: Fetching page www.example.com/error.html
WS: Page does not exists (html code 200)
SE: Hmm nice page. Lets index it.

Can you see the problem. And don’t think it will never happen! I did a quick search for “The page cannot be found” and it returned an alarming number of pages.

I can give you a worse, well better in my case, example. You have a nice little page called bunny.html but it wasn’t attracting that much attention so you renamed it to eat-the-bunny.html. Nothing wrong with that, but you put up a redirect with a meta tag. Or maybe even worse with JavaScript. Now lets observe our little search engine again.

SE: Fetching page bunny.html
WS: returning page (html code 200)
SE: hmm page changed, better update the cache

Don’t see the problem yet do you. Time to explain it a bit. The page is returned and the search engine sees that it was changed. Here comes it: the search engine does not know it has been removed to a new location. This means any popularity rank you had is removed. And in a worst case scenario the search engine detects the redirect and penalizes you for doorway pages.

What does this learn us. Use the html code that fits the situation.

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