Google listing oddity

Forgive me I seem to be monopolising the forum at the moment but I can’t work this out and I’m not sure that it’s terribly important but you may tell me otherwise. When i search for my house sale site in Google I see this:

WELCOME
NORMAL5. NORMAL6. NORMAL7. NORMAL8. NORMAL9. NORMAL10. NORMAL11. NORMAL12. banneralpha. 31 Ethelburt Avenue, Swaythling, Southampton SO163DG. housefrontsml … etc

the “Normal” things are the nav buttons on the home (or welcome) page, the site is here:

http://www.rogerburton.co.uk/ethelburt_avenue/

Just what have I done wrong (I’ve been messing around with ‘styles’ is that it) ?

Best Roger


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I looked at your page using the Yellowpipe Lynx viewer (at http://www.yellowpipe.com/yis/tools/lynx/lynx_viewer.php ). This give’s an idea of what the page will look like in a text-only browser. It also gives an idea of how a search engine will see your site.

The “Normal” things seem to be the Alt text for your nav buttons: you’d better replace that with the names of the buttons.

Also, the only meaningful text on the page is “31 Ethelburt Avenue, Swaythling, Southampton SO16 3DG”. There are two things I think you should do:

  1. Add some more content: explain that the house is for sale, for instance.
  2. Make this content the first thing on the site: you can change the order of items on the page in the source code by dragging them up or down in the Site panel.

Lovely house, by the way!


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Thanks as ever Michael, up up bright and early to try this new stuff out, excellent site ‘Lynx’ - it will prove very useful. Yes, I’ll rename the nav buttons’ alt text but I seem unable to drag the ‘master text’ up to the top of the list, (above all of the nav buttons, is it because they all have the ‘rollover’ action on them) I get the little blue line with the blue circle at the end but it will not go to the top of the list. I also thought ('cause I’ve been messing with the ‘styles’) that if I made the ‘master text’ an H1 tag it would be the first thing in the code … forgive my ignorance and if you want to make an offer on the house I’ll let you have some discount for being a freeway guru ! Best Roger


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I think you can’t drag the main text above the nav buttons because they are positioned using table layout. If you change them into layers, so they are positioned with CSS, you should be able to drag the item containing the text above them in the list.

The H1 tag doesn’t make any difference to the order of the code: it’s just basically saying “this is a title: it’s important”.

Sorry, I won’t be making an offer on the house: I live in Germany and I already have a house in France. I don’t think I could afford a house in England!


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Thanks again Michael, I’ll try that.

OK if you wont buy the house we could swap it for your French place.

Roger


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Michael wrote:

The “Normal” things seem to be the Alt text for your nav buttons: you’d better replace that with the names of the buttons.

Please forgive these basic questions, but is the alt tag for an item the same as its ‘title’ in the inspector pane’s ‘item general settings’?

Should one give meaningful alt text to blocks of html text or is that redundant? Any suggestions for SEO of this site would be most appreciated. Thanks!

http://www.woodwindstudio.info


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On 20 Jul 2008, 4:24 pm, JimS wrote:

Please forgive these basic questions, but is the alt tag for an item the same as its ‘title’ in the inspector pane’s ‘item general settings’?

Freeway will automatically use the title of a graphic item for the Alt text, but you can change that. Indeed, you should change that.

But first, it is a good idea to give a meaningful title to the image: always change the “item2” or whatever name Freeway has given to something that actually gives an idea of what the image is. This will be useful both for yourself and for the search engines.

Once you’ve done that, use the inspector palette to change the Alt text: on the third pane of the inspector palette you’ll find the Item Output Settings which allow you to enter a different Alt text. It looks as if you can only enter four or five words, but in fact you can enter more: use the up and down arrows to read through what you’ve typed. Imagine that you want to briefly describe the image to somebody who can’t see it.

Should one give meaningful alt text to blocks of html text or is that redundant? Any suggestions for SEO of this site would be most appreciated. Thanks!

Blocks of HTML text do not have Alt text. It doesn’t hurt to give meaningful titles to them, though.


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Thanks Michael, I see the difference between title and alt text now.


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Roger

Asides from your alt text issues would it not be sensible to Plaster across your 1st page House For Sale - otherwise people are just going to think that you like to show your house off!

I know it says it in the title of the page that is not that obvious for most viewers. Also rename your pages to include more information eg The Garden at 31 Ethelburt Avenue, Southampton - For Sale and The Floorplan of 31 Ethelburt Avenue, Southampton - For Sale

Also add the fact into the meta data keywords for the site eg. keywords: house for sale, southampton house for sale, desireable 4 bed Southampton house for sale etc. etc. Page>Meta tags>New then add Keywords Value: House for sale etc.

You want to be found by search engines so do all you can to aid this - have a look at Keith’s piece on SEO Be Found - design findable web sites that get ranked with the best

And most importantly: How much is your house?

David


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Thanks so much David, the site is ‘under construction’ but all your points are very valid and have helped me realise just what I’m missing, that advice is so useful. I understand that google doesn’t look at meta data much anymore but it is, I guess, good for other engines, should I add meta data to all pages, or just the master, and different for all pages ? Thanks again for taking the time. Roger


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Also - while we’re on the subject, I understand that the ‘main page’s file’ should be called ‘index.html’ - what about the other pages, are their any ‘rules’ for what the file name should be for them please ? Best roger


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They do say that a page named similarly to the content is advantageous so

ethelburt_avenuefloorplan.html would be fine

But this can be taken to extremes

…doesn’t look at meta data much anymore

Maybe not but this also means that relevant HTML text on a page is critical.

David


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Sometime around 21/7/08 (at 13:22 -0400) DeltaDave said:

They do say that a page named similarly to the content is advantageous so

ethelburt_avenuefloorplan.html would be fine

Actually, use hyphens (dashes), not underscores. Underscores are not
seen as word separators by Google and other search engines, so
ethelburt_avenue_floorplan would be no more search-friendly than
ethelbertavenuefloorplan, whereas ethelburt-avenue-floorplan would be
treated the same as “ethelbert avenue floorplan” in search engine
text string-matching terms.

…doesn’t look at meta data much anymore

Google hasn’t regarded metadata as search-safe for years; it is too
easy to use that to lie about the true content of a page. What it
can do is help - a tiny bit - with supporting the perceived
validity of your page’s text content. And also, some search engines
(may) still use this as part of the text description in search
results, even if they won’t use the content for the actual searching
process.

relevant HTML text on a page is critical.

Absolutely, it is as critical as can be.

k


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Thanks again to all - and I’m tending to agree with David, that things can be taken to extremes so, for my own clarification and for the benefit of other newbies who may be following this thread, I have created a kind of check-list, I must say I find it rather daunting and the thought of filling in all of these boxes for a big site is of concern, isn’t life too short ?

Here we go:

Ensure there is valid html text on the page.

Enter relevant and descriptive ‘title’ and ‘file’ information for each page.

Then click on an image and in the title panel of inspector add the same relevant text, then in ‘input settings’ panel add descriptive text to the ‘alt’ panel. Also ensure that all default/FW generated ‘item’ names are changed to more search engine friendly ones.

I think that’s all off the top of my head but reckon that’s about 3 places to change for each page and 3 for each image/graphic item, so a page with a dozen images on could need 40 pieces of information adding … can this really be necessary or have I got things totally wrong ?

Believe me this is not a ‘rant’ I love Freeway but feel I need to get my head around getting the site up the ranks in Google, there seems no point in creating a stunning looking site if it can’t be found.

Best regards Roger


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On 22 Jul 2008, 6:33 am, Roger Burton wrote:

Ensure there is valid html text on the page.

Enter relevant and descriptive ‘title’ and ‘file’ information for each page.

Then click on an image and in the title panel of inspector add the same relevant text, then in ‘input settings’ panel add descriptive text to the ‘alt’ panel. Also ensure that all default/FW generated ‘item’ names are changed to more search engine friendly ones.

I think that’s all off the top of my head but reckon that’s about 3 places to change for each page and 3 for each image/graphic item, so a page with a dozen images on could need 40 pieces of information adding … can this really be necessary or have I got things totally wrong ?

No, you haven’t got things wrong. If you get into the habit of doing this as you create the pages and the items, it’s not much of an effort.

Think of it this way: there are thousands of sites vying for attention. If you want people to notice your site, you’ll need to work at it. The fault is not with Freeway: you’ll need to do the same work in any other web developing program. No software yet invented will add meaningful descriptions to an image.

Having sorted out titles and Alt text, get down to the most important part: HTML content. This cannot be stressed enough. Others have said it already, but I’ll say it again: relevant HTML text is critical.

The only relevant HTML text on your home page is the address of the house. That’s not enough. You want to sell the house, so the site should be saying this, clearly and fully. It’s good that the phrase "house for sale " is in the title of the home page, but it should also be in the HTML text.

In any case, there should be much more HTML text: search engines will give a lower rank to a page with just one phrase than to one that seems to contain several paragraphs of information. If you try to imagine all the information a potential buyer would need, and then pack it into clearly-organised paragraphs (with some headers and sub-headers), you’ll not only increase the chances of your site getting ranked by the search engines, you’ll also make it more useful to potential buyers when they find it.

For the moment, your site gives much more information about the surrounding region than about the house itself. People will want to know:

  • When it was built
  • When it was renovated
  • Its size
  • The sizes of the rooms
  • What sort of heating
  • The size of the garden

and so on and so on…

Spread this information around the site: a full description of the house on the home page, under a heading which includes the phrase “House for sale”, and details such as sizes of the rooms or the garden on the relevant pages. You will make both the search engines and the potential buyers happy.


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Jeez I love this forum, thanks Michael, you chaps are so generous with your time. Excellent advice, I guess it’s a matter of getting into the habit of adding all of this detail as and when a page is created and a still inserted. I’m learning something new every day. I will be adding more textual descriptions as and when my wife gets her &*% into gear and writes it (I know if I try and write the descriptions it will all be wrong) … so thanks again for taking the time and I’ll get on with it. Regards Roger


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On 22 Jul 2008, at 10:01, Roger Burton wrote:

I will be adding more textual descriptions as and when my wife gets
her &*% into gear

Roger, I don’t know if it helps, but we sold our house in London by
putting a big sign in the front garden with “For Sale” on it, plus the
URL to a small site I knocked up in Freeway (of course) with some
interior pictures and a bit of blurb. Sold it in two days :slight_smile:

best wishes,

Paul Bradforth

http://www.paulbradforth.com


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Sometime around 22/7/08 (at 02:33 -0400) Roger Burton said:

a page with a dozen images on could need 40 pieces of information
adding … can this really be necessary or have I got things totally
wrong ?

Don’t put alt text on things that are purely decorative. What that is
really for is situations where the visual element isn’t visible for
some reason; then the alt text steps in to explain the purpose of the
graphic. For purely decorative graphic elements it is normally best
to remove all alt text and leave off the title content as well.

Rather than looking at this as an extra pile of work that occurs
after you’ve finished the design and production task, try to see it
as part of making the page work as well as possible. It isn’t just
for the benefit of search engines, it also helps make your pages more
accessible, more comprehensible to those with some form of disability.

As for can/can’t be found, this just improves the odds. If you have
machine-readable text content in your pages then it will get
indexed and will appear, somewhere, in relevant search results.
What you’re talking about is helping it be recognised more
specifically for what it is really about, so that it appears higher
up the ranking for highly-relevant searches. I’m afraid this takes
work!

To rephrase your checklist…

  1. Use HTML text where possible in your pages.

  2. Use meaningful page titles and file names.

  3. Add title descriptions to links (describing the destination) and
    relevant images.

  4. Add meaningful alt text to graphics that should be described, and
    remove it entirely from those that don’t need it.

Also,
5) Read my old article on optimising pages: Be Found - design findable web sites that get ranked with the best

k


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Thanks Paul, that’s very encouraging, yes I’m off to the signmakers soon and a little more to do to the site and we’ll be up and running … and Keith - thanks again. So when I look at my site on ‘yellowpipe’ and see the names of all the nav buttons (which, I guess I don’t really need to see them) I can remove the alt text and how to remove the ‘title content’ please ? or do nav buttons need alt text ? - There’s a lot to learn with this web site business. Regards Roger


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Sometime around 22/7/08 (at 05:43 -0400) Roger Burton said:

do nav buttons need alt text ?

Hi Roger - absolutely!

Imagine if you saw your site with just generic placeholders instead
of the navigation button graphics. You’d have absolutely no way of
knowing what button what what, unless there was meaningful alt text
there.

The only kind of graphic that shouldn’t have alt text is stuff that
is purely decorative and wouldn’t make any material difference to
someone’s understanding of or ability to use the page if the graphic
wasn’t there.

Remember, the true, prime reason for alt text is for situations where
the images themselves can’t be seen whether that’s through technical
problems, speed concerns, or some kind of disability. The fact that
this stuff is good for search engines should not make you change how
you use alt text - not significantly, anyway. It might affect how you
phrase things, but not anything more than that.

As far as a search engine is concerned, the kind of page that
deserves top ranking for any particular search is one that is as
relevant as possible to the person making the search. Make your pages
work well for humans, in a broadly accessible manner, and those pages
will automatically be at least moderately well optimised for search
engines as well.

k


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