Your Web pages are only helpful if users can find them. This is known as Web searchability.
The cornerstone to searchability - getting your page found - are keywords and other information that targets the search engine . Nearly half of the usage on the WSDOT Web site is from people entering the site via a search engine, such as Google, Yahoo and MSN.
How to improve the searchability of your pages
- Make your pages keyword rich (keyword consistency can make your page a top search result).
- Add alternative text (alt-tags) to your image, documents and links.
You will also want to improve the searchability of your PDF files.
Be sure to test your searchability
It may take a day or two for new pages to show up in search engines. Search engines “crawl” around the Web once every 24-hours and identify new pages. If the page hasn’t yet been “crawled” it may not show up in the search results.
Try out various search engines with key terms that you think the average customer would use to search for your page.
If you don't get the results you want, redo your search terms and test again.
What is a keyword-rich page?
Use the same keywords consistently through each of your page areas:
- Page Title
- Hyperlinks/Anchors (Make your links contextual, in which the user knows where the link will take them.)
- Within paragraph text
Repeat the keywords within these areas to increase searchability.
What is alternative text?
Alternative text (alt-tags) is the text that displays while an image loads, when you mouse over an image or document. Critically, it is the audio you hear when browsing the page with a program for visually impaired users. It has two important functions:
- Alt-tags describe an image for visually impaired or blind users, helping them visualize the image displayed.
- Descriptive alt-tags improves search results because it reinforces keywords that are searchable by a search engine.
An alt-tag is the text that appears when a customer cannot, or chooses not, to view an image on a page.
Alt-tags are important for three reasons:
- Alt-tags are read aloud by Web readers
Some Web users view the WSDOT Web with a Web reader - which reads the Web site out loud to the user.
This is commonly used by the blind.
Your alt-tags should be descriptive enough that a blind customer experiences the same Web page as a viewing customer.
- Alt-tags increases Web page searchability
Alt-tags are used by search engines to determine the topic/subject of your Web page. If you use keywords in your alt-tags, this increases the instances of the keywords and places you page higher in the search results.
- Alt-tags appears when images do not
Some Web users have the images shut off in their Web browser.
Test your page, by shutting off the images. Can you navigate around your site and do your alt-tags provide the same viewing experience as if the images displayed?
For more information on making your site searchable, contact Web Help .