Search engine optimization is a pizza cake

I hope at least a few of the 17 people who read this column are interested in building their own Web site, or already have, or would want to if all the letters on their keyboard weren't missing.

The trouble with starting from scratch on the Internet is it's tough to find your newly created URL in the search engine. The good news is there are ways to make it easier. The bad news is you will need more than just the return and shift keys to accomplish this.

Search engines perform a function called spidering to find new and recently visited pages throughout the World Wide Web. It used to be understood that if you put the word "pizza" like 120,439,239,596 times on your home page, at the bottom in hidden text, your page would come up near the top in the search engines. It doesn't quite happen like that anymore, and furthermore, pizza is good. If I could change one thing about my hard drive, it would be adding a USB connector to a moveable pizza oven. Then again, you can always make an Internet pizza and be done with it.

Anyway, most search engines really like good text. You don't have to write "A Christmas Carol" or "Canterbury Tales," but it helps to have a clear, concise paragraph or so about your Web site on the home page. Search engines pick up this text oftentimes as a source of keywords.

Complete search engine optimization includes using meta tags to enhance the possibility of your site being spidered immediately. The necessary tags needed to complete this are the keywords and description tags. Fewer than 20 keywords should be appropriate, along with a 1-2 sentence description defining your Web site. Maybe you have more pizza toppings than that, but honestly, who eats anchovies?

Search engines are not particularly fond of home page redirects nor placeholder pages. I'm sure you've seen sites like this: You type the Web address and find nothing but a spinning pizza or some other graphical element. Sure, it looks cool, but Google and Alta Vista think it's lame. You can definitely include graphics on your homepage, but make sure you also use description text.

Another item developers often forget is the document title. Usually when pages appear in search engines, they are labeled with the page title. Without adding a title in the header information, it is more difficult for the search engines to find your site or particular pages.

Assuming you still have the bulk of your keyboard keys remaining, I hope these search engine optimization tips will help. If not, I don't know what to tell you. Maybe you could start your own Internet pizza operation. Just remember to include a nice description so I can find it someday.