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Making Your Pages Searchable

When pages are unable to be found by a search engine, it doesn't automatically mean that the search engine is broken or outdated.

It could be that you need to optimise your pages for search engines and maximise their 'searchability' within the University website.

How Search Engines Work

To help people find your website, a search engine interprets what your site is about. A search engine may collect information in several ways:

  1. Keywords - It may look at the text on your page, called the body text. It scans your page and identifies important words (called keywords), from which it determines the subject of your page. Therefore on your main page, it pays to be very clear about what you're saying and it is helpful to always have at least 50 keywords on the page.
  2. Metatags - It may look at the text code behind your page - the page source code. The most important things in the page source are the metatags and title tag. Meta tags are elements that record information about the current page. You type in this information as metadata, which includes page title, keywords, two-sentence description and author (or creator). Metatags can also be used to give information to the server. If you would like assistance in setting the metatags for your website, please contact the Web Team.
  3. Document metadata - It will also look at the document properties of files linked to a site, such as Word or PDF documents. This information may include titles, authors, descriptions, keywords and copyright information. Visit the Metadata page within the advanced information section of the Web guide for instructions.
  4. URLs - It may look at the words in the URL, however this has a minimal effect on the page ranking compared with page content and metadata.  Hyphens are the keyword separator recognised by the majority of search engines, including google, while underscores are also recognised by some search engines, including, yahoo and MSN.

As you can see, the best way of insuring good search results is to include the words you think people will use to search for your page in the contents of the pages. If these words are placed in the heading, title or as links in the contents of the page it will further increase the page's 'searchability'. Adding meta data to your site is a secondary means of allowing search engines to find your page. Although it is not as important as placement of appropriate words in your content, it is still useful. Finally, you can add meta data to a file on your site by adding keywords, and other details, to the document properties.


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