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Photo of me at FOSS Means Business, 2006-03-16

Search Engine Optimisation

This is a list of pages that link to my homepage. By linking to them, I hope to increase the search engine value of my homepage. For my thoughts on search engine optimisation, skip past these links and read my tips.

To maintain a list like this, you should use the W3C's link checker every few months to show what dead links should be removed, and search with Google with a search string like "link:example.com" to find pages that link to your example.com homepage.

The links

The search engine optimisation tips

Search Engine Optimisation is a mildly interesting topic. On the 23rd of Dec 2005, my site is #1 out of "about 2,030,000" when people searched Google for "ciaran". I got to #1 in December 2004. During 2005 I moved between #1 and #5, but I expect to keep the #1 spot now. (Update, June 2007: I've fallen down to #4 for some reason.)

The data for search engines is gathered by web "crawlers". Here's some the tips I've found or figured out for feeding the crawlers:

  1. Most important: have as many sites a possible link to your site. For every web page you maintain, link to your site from it. If you post to any web forum that allows html in comments, add a link to your site.
  2. The anchor text of the links to your site are important, so try to link using words that you want your site to be associated with.
  3. Submit your page to dmoz.org. This is a volunteer run site, it takes weeks for them to add your page to their database, but do it now, and it will happen in time (weeks or months). This will create a few more links to your site, and will also make it easier for people to find your site.
  4. Use anchors within your page. Search engines can use the anchor text to decide the main topics of your page. Here is a good place for me to mention that a list of my software libre resources information can be found of my homepage.
  5. Never use an image when text would do. Search engines only pick up text. If you do use images, give them an alt text.
  6. Use good HTML. Tags like <h1> etc. tell search crawlers what your page is about.
  7. Don't try to trick the search engines. They're pretty smart. Too many <h1> tags will just make the crawlers ignore those tags. If you're making a feeder page like this one, don't just make it a list of links. Crawlers ignore pages that are just links, so stick in some text, like I'm doing right now :-)
  8. Put a link to your homepage on every page on your site, like I've done at the top of each page.
  9. Often, crawlers will only follow the first five links on a page, so make them the important ones.
  10. Do a few searchs for your site, look at the sites that are ranked higher than yours, and try to figure out what they have done right.
  11. Aim to make each page between 8k and 16k. Any more and the crawler mightn't index the whole page, any less and the crawler wont have enough data to increase your ranking.
  12. Page titles should be close to, but not more than 65 characters.
  13. The 'description', and 'keywords' meta tag data should be close to, but not more than, 130 and 70 characters in length respectively.

That's all for now. If you'd like to help me keep my ranking up, link to my website from somewhere. Preferably my homepage, but any page will help. Of course, you can link to my pages for other reasons too, although I don't do link exchanges etc.


(Go: homepage of Ciarán O'Riordan)

If you'd like to contact the me regarding this page, email me.

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Copyright 2007 Ciaran O'Riordan. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.