The average person conducting a search on Google/Yahoo/MSN, etc. will only click to successive pages twice (providing an initial page and two addition ones) before moving-on. Consequently, many tools which analyse search engine index results will only store the first thirty returns for a given set of keywords, i.e. three pages @ ten returns per page.
Results from a search will fall into two categories, organic and pay-per-click (ppc). For this evaluation, I’m only looking at organic search results.
Also when analyzing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results, words which are in the Title meta tag will almost always be returned in a search. (Let’s put it this way, if they’re not, there are larger issues.) Hence, usually we’re looking for the keywords which will provide a greater depth to the searchability.
There are various meta tags and attributes in the code which a search engine spider (sometimes referred to as a bot, short for robot) will index. In addition each search engine runs various algorithms to perform the indexing and to place value on the result. In addition to a spider indexing a page, it’s possible to submit the contents of a page both text as well as the meta tags and attributes to a search engine.
While no search engine company will publish the algorithms they use (Google doesn’t want to give its trade secrets to Yahoo, etc.) it’s possible to gain some insight into how this works by looking at the software which submits a site to the search engines.
If you read Bill Trancer’s blog on search engine market share, Google now has over 60% market share in the United States. For further discussion will refer only to Google’s results. Just be aware that while there are differences in the value a particular search engine assigns to a given meta tag or attribute, the method is similar. Some of these differences can best be illustrated in the Search Engine Dance tool.
In all search engines the highest score that can be achieved is a 10. Google runs sufficient algorithms to rank eleven tags and attributes. They are: (includes an approximation of the score or value assigned to each).
- Title tag 2.0 (20% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Link Popularity/Backlinks 2.0 (20% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Content (text on one’s pages) 1.5 (15% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Domain Name 1.0 (10% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Keyword Prominence 1.0 (10% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Heading Tags 0.5 (5% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Proximity of Keywords 0.5 (5% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Bold or Italic 0.4 (4% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Folder or File Name 0.3 (3% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Description meta tag 0.3 (3% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Alt attribute 0.2 (2% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Title attribute 0.2 (2% of the maximum score of 10.0)
- Keyword meta tag 0.1 (1% of the maximum score of 10.0)