The role keyword location plays in website visibility to Search Engines: An empirical study.

Kritzinger, W. & Weideman, M.

Proceedings of the 6th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. 1-3 September. Johannesburg, South Africa.

Kritzinger, W. & Weideman, M. 2004. The role keyword location plays in website visibility to Search Engines: An empirical study. Proceedings of the 6th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. 1-3 September. Johannesburg, South Africa. Online:

The primary objective of this research project is to report on the location of keywords as a ranking factor of e-Commerce websites. Many authors claim that the amount of data available on the Internet cannot be measured. New and existing authors constantly add more data by uploading new and revised webpages to web servers, some on an hourly basis. Also, there is no central body responsible for categorising, validating or censoring data on the Internet. It is these factors that contribute to the rather chaotic situation Internet users face when attempting to retrieve relevant information from the Internet. An e-Commerce website needs to attract visitors and the website designer needs to ensure the website is visible to search engines. Being listed in a search engine index is, however, no guarantee that a user will be able to find the website, even if the website qualifies as a candidate for the user's search. Websites that are not ranked highly by search engines are less likely to be visited by potential customers. Users tend to examine only the first page of search results and once they find a good match for their search, they normally do not to look further down the list. Most search engines display only 10 to 20 of the most relevant results on the first page. Thus, exclusion from these top results means that only a small number of search engine users will actually see a link to the website. It has been found that one of the main rules in ranking algorithms of search engines involve the location and frequency of keywords on a webpage. Some authors refer to it as the "location/frequency method". Pages with the search terms appearing in the HTML title tag are often assumed to be more relevant than others to the topic. Search engines will also check to see if the search keywords appear near the top of a webpage, such as in the headline or in the first few paragraphs of text. Search engines assume that any page relevant to the topic will mention those words right from the beginning. However, no empirical results were found to confirm that there is a measurable relationship between keyword location and website ranking. The method employed in this project was to inspect webpages and the location of their keywords. The authors identified four search engines and used the keyword "books" to search for the top 10 results of the respective search engines. These four data sets where then used to compare the ranking degree to the keyword location of the websites listed. The correlation (or lack thereof) will indicate the relation between webpage ranking and keyword location. It is believed that this research project will provide website designers with guidance to work towards achieving a higher rank with search engines by simply considering the location of webpage keywords.
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