Application of best practice towards improving Web site visibility to search engines: a pilot study

Weideman, Melius; Chambers, Rickard

South African Journal of Information Management

Weideman, M. & Chambers, R. 2005, ‘Application of best practice towards improving Web site visibility to search engines: a pilot study’, SA Journal of Information Management 7(4), December 2005, 14 pages. http://www.sajim.co.za/index.php/SAJIM/article/viewFile/288/278

ABSTRACT.
Many hours can be spent on creating a Web site before finally introducing it to the world. The content could be informative and presented logically. The design could be outstanding and the user interface functional. Even the unique customers, purpose of the site, simple navigational strategies and all the essential aspects of Web design could have been considered during implementation. In many developers' eyes, such a Web page could be seen as flawless. The hard reality, though, is that a well-designed site will not be successful if the potential customers cannot find the site. Often a developer submits Web pages to the search engines and then wants to move on to other work, under the impression that the task is complete. In most cases, however, the developer's responsibility should also include constantly improving the visibility (ability to be seen or capability of being readily noticed or referred to) of the Web site by having the pages indexed and ranked high in the search engines, and to keep them there. Exceptions include those cases where it is not crucial that a Web site be visible (e.g. personal Web pages, pages where paid methods are used to achieve high rankings, etc). This way, the developer assures constant Web site visibility that, in turn, should generate constant traffic to the Web site. In practice, searchers would like to see the item that they are searching for on the first result screen, and in the top ten hits. Businesses would also like their Web page to appear in this set, where it is most likely to capture the interest of the searcher (Rowley 2001:203-204). Therefore, Web developers should invest in a search engine strategy that is based on the effective use of techniques and programming tools. Examples include meta tags or ALT tags to increase the chances of the Web site being listed in high positions in search queries. One author states: 'A sound search engine strategy provides mechanisms for allowing the frequent evaluation of the site visibility' (Constantinides 2002:2633). However, no empirical evidence could be found in the literature of a study that summarized the elements of such a strategy, or one which provided a pilot study with a proposed solution to this problem. The objective of this research was therefore to provide a Web site visibility best practice proposal, coupled with a pilot study containing an implementation of these elements.
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