Improving Table Prominence for Higher Rankings

Seasoned search engine marketers know that to gain top rankings, your important keywords should appear as close to the beginning of your HTML code as possible. In search engine marketing lingo, this is called keyword “prominence.” Search engines assign greater value to keywords that appear early in the text.

Unfortunately, many Web sites are designed to include navigation links down the left-hand side of the screen. Typically, this side-bar navigation is implemented in one or more HTML table cells. By default, your navigation links will appear in your first table cell.

So, what do you do if you want your body text to appear as the first cell in order to improve keyword prominence, but still need your navigation links to appear on the left side of your Web page? Fortunately, there is a solution by taking advantage of the ROWSPAN property of an HTML table.

When using tables, a simple rearrangement of table cells can move your body text to the top of the HTML code without changing the screen layout. This comes in handy if WebPosition or your own judgment tells you that you need to move the keywords closer to the top of the page within your HTML.

Below, a “dummy” cell is used before the body text instead of the list of links. The cell containing the main body text uses “ROWSPAN=2″ so that it spans the tiny dummy cell and the cell containing the links. In this example using our new technique, the cell containing the menu links now appears AFTER the body text.

<TD><!–dummy cell to push links down–></TD>
<TD ROWSPAN=2 VALIGN=top>Welcome to the Web’s best online catalog for digital cameras, digital camcorders, Tivo’s, ReplayTV’s, and the very latest in electronic technology. More body text goes here…</TD>
<A HREF=”home.html”>Home</A><BR>
<A HREF=”cat.html”>View our catalog</A><BR>
<A HREF=”help.html”>Help</A><BR>
<A HREF=”search.html”>Search the site</A><BR>
<A HREF=”contact.html”>Contact us</A><BR>
<A HREF=”about.html”>About us</A><BR>

If you have more than one row containing navigation links, just increase the number of the ROWSPAN for the body text. Your Web page will look the same to the end-user but to a search engine, it will improve the prominence of your most important keywords. In the above example, we are encouraging the search engine to consider words like digital cameras and camcorders as more important than menu phrases such as “Contact Us” or “Search the Site.”

About the Author

This article is copyrighted and has been reprinted with permission from FirstPlace Software, the makers of WebPosition Gold. FirstPlace Software helped define the SEO industry with the introduction of the first product to track your rankings on the major search engines and to help you improve those rankings. A free trial of WebPosition Gold is available from their Web site.

Ritu Sharma
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