Welcome back, wanting2know!
You are absolutely correct in thinking that placement of text vs
really hinder the ability of the Googlebot and other Search Engine
Spiders to fully access your text, and because the Googlebot assigns
importance to things based on where they appear on the page, putting
an "include" file, that include statement is still using up important
character space at the beginning of your html file. The first 250
characters or so are the most critical for the Googlebot and other
Search Engines, so you want to have as much real text content in there
Because of this, you will want to put your include statements as far
down on your page as possible while still ensuring that the page works
Since many search engines, ***especially Google***, no longer still
use <meta> keywords to determine ranking (although keywords are still
examined in terms of validating that your site is about what you say
it's about), this also means that you will want to use some economy in
defining your meta tags.
Furthermore, many website developer tools like FrontPage like to
insert lots and lots of superfluous <meta> tags at the front of your
file, so if you use one of these tools I recommend going into your
file afterward using a simple editor like Notepad or Wordpad and
getting rid of the extraneous <meta> tags.
out your Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) definitions into separate
included files, such as:
<link href="answers.css" rel="stylesheet">
Web Master World Administrator Tedster, in response to user joshie76's
Is this (because it essentially moves the content further away from
the top of the document) likely to be effecting my ranking?":
"Yes, I'd say that much code will hurt you. It's not just the
there are already some calls to external js files for some of your
menus into external files (the div definitions, for example).
there's a simpler way to get the same or very similar functionality.
Along these lines, it would be highly desirable for the links to be in
text, rather than image maps.
The little bit of true text you do have might be positioned absolutely
so you can move the HTML for it to the top of the BODY section. It's
got to carry the bulk of the weight for this page's rank, so making
sure the kws are in there matters a lot..."
Another technique is to put your most important content first and use
scripts, code, and/or style sheets to position all of your content the
way it should be viewed:
User alexjc, in a posting on the Forums at Web Master World:
"Place the most important components of your page first in the source,
screen. The advantages (appart from not using tables) are that you can
put your most important paragraph just after the <BODY> tag (this is
especially usefull if you want to have a menu on the left hand side),
hence scoring more in search engine ranking algorithms."
While Web Master World is now a subscription service (and in my
opinion, well worth it), there is a fair bit of the archived material
still available for non-members to peruse at
http://www.webmasterworld.com . I encourage you to check it out, if
you haven't previously done so.
Before rating this Answer, if you have questions about the information
that I have presented, please post a Request for Clarification, and I
will be glad to see what I can do for you.