How Google Sees a Web Page

The Anatomy of a Web Page (from a search engine optimization perspective)


When the considers a web page, it looks for a meta title, URL and h1 title to determine what that web page is about. By making sure your web page has each of these, and by placing appropriate keywords in each of these locations, helps Google understand the content of the page and, at the same time, helps your page to rank for the keywords chosen. A few things to keep in mind:

  1. When selecting keywords for the meta title, it's best to use as few words as possible to accurately identify the page subject. For each additional word included, Google reduces the importance of each keyword by its ratio to the total number of words used. For instance, each keyword in "Skiing in the Catskills," is half as important as those in "Catskill Skiing."
  2. Whenever possible, pages on better travel marketing sites use the same keywords in the meta title, URL and h1 title , but use them differently. For instance, the meta title could be "Catskill Skiing", the URL could be “/catskill-skiing” and the h1 title, "Skiing in the Catskills."
  3. It's best to limit the number of pages on a website with the same exact keyword combination to one. When there are multiple pages with the same exact keywords, that website is effectively competing with itself for Google rankings.
  4. It’s a bad idea to try to fool Google (either knowingly or unknowingly) with keywords that inaccurately reflect the content of a web page. Over time, if the meta titles, URLs and h1 titles are accurate, Google will reward the site with high rankings quickly. If they are inaccurate, Google will become suspect of the site and wait for inbound links to confirm relevance before rewarding each new page with a ranking.

Google looks in the body copy of the web page for instances of the keywords placed in the meta title, URL and h1 title, to make sure that the content is relevant to those topics. Google also looks for enough words in the copy to qualify as “informative,” as people who use search are looking for information. We generally recommend web page copy lengths between 200 and 600 words. Less than 200 words and the page is not informative. Pages with more than 600 words can usually be split into multiple pages, giving the ability to rank for more than one set of keywords for the same content.

Currently, search engines cannot see the contents of graphics, photos and video files on a web page - and what they can’t see they deem to be irrelevant. That’s why it’s also important to include anchor text for each of these items: anchor text adds relevance, particularly if the anchor text includes one or more of the keywords on the page.

One last thing to keep in mind is using internal links on the page to related content elsewhere on the website. While this doesn’t necessarily improve search engine rankings, it can help a travel consumer who lands on the site via search find additional information they might find useful in making travel decisions.