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Instrumenting a Site for a Good Listing

Take a look at the second listing in Figure 2-the one for the Dating Expert site. We'll analyze that listing because that site happens to be one I own, which is ranked highly in several search engines. The listing has three parts, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1 The Three Parts of a Listing

Part

Description

Part 1: Title

DATING EXPERT -- Love Tests, Relationship Tests, Scientific and Mystic Compatibility Tests, Dating Advice, Dating Tips

Part 2: URL

URL: http://www.datingexpert.com

Part 3: Description

Scientific and Mystic Relationship Compatibility Tests, Dating Tips, Dating Advice, and Date Making


You actually set the title and the description for your site. If you don't do it, you can expect the user to see a listing like the fourth one in Figure 2 (untitled and no summary available, remember?). My guess is that most users won't click on that untitled, undescribed listing, no matter how high up it appears in the search results!

So let's take a look at how you set the title and description.

Setting the Title

The <TITLE>...</TITLE> tag goes inside the header section of your web page (somewhere between the <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags). Quite simply, whatever you put between the <TITLE> and </TITLE> tags shows up as the title in your site's search engine listing. When setting your title, don't just list the name of your site; for example, don't just make the title Dating Expert. You should also list the key content on your site that you think a user will find interesting. For example, the <TITLE> tag for Dating Expert is shown in Listing 1.

Listing 1 - The <TITLE> Tag for the Dating Expert Site

<TITLE>DATING EXPERT -- Love Tests, Relationship Tests, Scientific
and Mystic Compatibility Tests, Dating Advice, Dating Tips</TITLE>

And sure enough, that's what appears in the title portion of Dating Expert's search engine listing (jump back to Figure 2 again). This is the same title that appears in the title bar of a user's browser when he or she visits your site.

Next, let's look at the tag for setting your site's description. This tag is only slightly more complicated than the <TITLE> tag.

Setting the Description

You might guess that since there's a <TITLE> tag, there should be a <DESCRIPTION> tag as well, but you'd guess wrong. To set the description, you use the <META> tag. The <META> tag is a catchall tag for those commands that the HTML language designers didn't think of when they initially designed the language. Distinguishing those commands is accomplished through the use of a NAME parameter. Specifically, to set your site's description, first set the value of the NAME parameter to "description" (NAME="description"), and then set the value of the CONTENT parameter to the actual description. In Dating Expert, the entire tag looks like Listing 2.

Listing 2 - The Description for the Dating Expert Site

<META NAME="description" content="Scientific and Mystic Relationship
Compatibility Tests, Dating Tips, Dating Advice, and Date Making">
</META>

Remember, whatever description you set appears in the search listing and can influence whether users click your listing. So, as when setting the title, you need to create a description that's "catchy," and that lets the user know what kind of value they can expect to receive if they visit your site.

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