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Tips From the Search Crowd

TORONTO -- You want to make sure the search engines find your site and rank it well? Follow some basic rules of the information highway, search experts say.

First, educate yourself about how Google indexes and ranks Web pages with its PageRank mechanism, said Debbie Jaffe, product marketing manager at Google.

Speaking at the Search Engine Strategies conference in Toronto this week, Jaffe explained the different crawler cycles that Google uses for its content-based index. For example, the "main" results section of Google's site is content that doesn't change often and is indexed at least once a month. However, the site's "News" section is content that is indexed multiple times per day.

And don't try to fool the engines in some way in order to improve rank, said Chris Sherman, associate editor at SearchEngineWatch.com. (SearchEngineWatch.com, Search Engine Strategies and internetnews.com are owned by Jupitermedia Corp.)

What is good, experts added, is to make use of the Robots.txt standard on web servers in order to help search crawlers determine what content of your site is and isn't "indexable." Also, use 301 or 302 HTTP redirects for pages that move a lot.

Matias Cuenca-Acona, Ask Jeeve's research engineer, said politeness, freshness and completeness of content are the three measures Ask Jeeves' crawler algorithm considers when indexing and ranking pages.

Yahoo's Tomi Poutanen, director of international search operations, said Yahoo! is the only search engine that currently makes use of Meta keyword information. But Meta keywords, which were once a standard tool for search engine optimization, can be abused, he said. As a result, Yahoo considers Meta keywords only if they actually appear on the page content and should be not be used as a way to fool the engine in any way.

Poutanen also said Yahoo's crawlers are as follows: slurp for the main Yahoo! index, Newscrawler for Yahoo News, and MMCrawler for multimedia search.

And keep an eye out for even more RSS capabilities, the search executives said.