This page deals with search-engine problems with tables and images. How they read pages and how this might affect your listing and positioning. It also suggests a model approach of writing your pages so they are easily indexed by search engines.
Search engines, although they are continually getting better, tend to be rather low tech. Some read meta tags, some read only the first few hundred words of text. Some read both and link them together, so that if you have meta tags which don't relate to the words on the page, it won't rank your page very highly.
If your page starts with a big image, then the search engine might just read this and ignore your real content which comes later, many characters later.
Also if you use tables, it is important to remember that the search engine will read your page as it looks in HTML and not how it looks in the browser. This means that the search engine might read its allocated characters before it gets to your real content. For example:
<td>Great big picture of dog - lots of bytes! <br>
My friend Tom's Page <br>
A funny story</td>
<!--The search engine starts reading your real stuff here!-->
<td>My real stuff and writing on dogs begins here! </td>
Although when you look at the page in the browser, My real stuff appears to be right at the top, to the search engine it is quite a way down the page, and it might never read it. The search engine reads the first things on your page, not the first things you see on the page. See the example!
This example gives you an idea how to write a page so that it can be favourably listed by search engines. There is nothing clever here.
<title>Writing for the Web</title>
<meta name="description" content="Writing web pages that are easily understood ... ">
content="Writing, write, web pages, clear, effective, ... ">
<body><h1> Writing for the Web<h1>
<p>This web page will teach you how to write clear and effective pages for the Web</P>
Did you notice that the key words are repeated in the body of the document, so the listing index (keywords meta tag) corresponds with the actual text? The title can stand alone and says what the page is about. Do not repeat key words excessively (more than 5 or so times) or you could be banned from the search engines for spamming!
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Most Recent Revision: 18-Oct-98.
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