Making efforts to optimize a site is great but what counts is how search engines see your efforts. While even the most careful optimization does not guarantee tops position in search results, if your site does not follow basic search engine optimisation truths, then it is more than certain that this site will not score well with search engines. One way to check in advance how your SEO efforts are seen by search engines is to use a search engine simulator.
Basically all search engine spiders function on the same principle – they crawl the Web and index pages, which are stored in a database and later use various algorithms to determine page ranking, relevancy, etc of the collected pages. While the algorithms of calculating ranking and relevancy widely differ among search engines, the way they index sites is more or less uniform and it is very important that you know what spiders are interested in and what they neglect.
Are Your Hyperlinks Spiderable?
If you happen to have tons of hyperlinks on your pages (although it is highly recommended to have less than 100 hyperlinks on a page), then you might have hard times checking if they are OK. For instance, if you have pages that display “403 Forbidden”, “404 Page Not Found” or similar errors that prevent the spider from accessing the page, then it is certain that this page will not be indexed. It is necessary to mention that a spider simulator does not deal with 403 and 404 errors because it is checking where links lead to not if the target of the link is in place, so you need to use other tools for checking if the targets of hyperlinks are the intended ones.
Looking for Your Keywords
While there are specific tools, like the Keyword Playground or the Website Keyword Suggestions, which deal with keywords in more detail, search engine spider simulators also help to see with the eyes of a spider where keywords are located among the text of the page. Why is this important? Because keywords in the first paragraphs of a page weigh more than keywords in the middle or at the end. And if keywords visually appear to us to be on the top, this may not be the way spiders see them. Consider a standard Web page with tables. In this case chronologically the code that describes the page layout (like navigation links or separate cells with text that are the same sitewise) might come first and what is worse, can be so long that the actual page-specific content will be screens away from the top of the page. When we look at the page in a browser, to us everything is fine – the page-specific content is on top but since in the HTML code this is just the opposite, the page will not be noticed as keyword-rich.
Are Dynamic Pages Too Dynamic to be Seen At All
Dynamic pages (especially ones with question marks in the URL) are also an extra that spiders do not love, although many search engines do index dynamic pages as well. Running the spider simulator will give you an idea how well your dynamic pages are accepted by search engines. Useful suggestions how to deal with search engines and dynamic URLs can be found in the Dynamic URLs vs. Static URLs article.
Meta Keywords and Meta Description
Meta keywords and meta description, as the name implies, are to be found in the <META> tag of a HTML page. Once meta keywords and meta descriptions were the single most important criterion for determining relevance of a page but now search engines employ alternative mechanisms for determining relevancy, so you can safely skip listing keywords and description in Meta tags (unless you want to add there instructions for the spider what to index and what not but apart from that meta tags are not very useful anymore).