April 22, 2002, 12:00 AM

Search engines going deeper into pages--and beyond--to rank results

Metatags and other technology solutions are much less important today to landing high in search results; link popularity is now almost as important as page construction in boosting sites in search results, iProspect says.

Metatags, the coded data attached to web pages that tell search engines what’s in a page, once drove searches on the web, but they’re not as important to search rankings as they used to be, search optimization provider Fredrick Marckini tells InternetRetailer.com. Due to misuses of the metatags by some sites eager to grab as many eyeballs as possible, “Metatags are a much smaller component of the average search engine’s algorithms these days,” says Marckini, CEO of Arlington, MA-based iProspect. “The classic example would be somebody who sells car parts having a metakeyword tag with words like car parts, auto parts, carburetors and spark plugs. But because he sees Amazon.com get a lot of traffic, he adds books, CDs and tapes to his metatag, though his site doesn’t discuss them.”

Now, search engines are eliminating irrelevant listings from their results by going beyond metatags and deeper into the pages themselves to determine rankings. And more and more, says Marckini, engines and directories are going off the page to look at the quantity and quality of other sites that link to a site to help determine rankings in search results. Link popularity, for example, is a primary ranking criterion at Google.com. The rationale is that traffic from other sites can be viewed as a measure of relevancy; large numbers of users wouldn’t follow a link unless they found it to be relevant and of value. In search, says Marckini, “Quality, quantity and content of links to the page are now almost as important as the construction of the web page itself. “


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