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How many characters (or words) do spiders look at in HTML code? I have heard the most important spots are at the beginning and end of the HTML that is the most significant. I have also heard there should be between 200-800 words in total. Any more specifics on the most important parts? Where does the spider start? For instance, would <HTML> count as 6 characters?
Frankly, though, I don't consider page length that big of an issue. Minimize HTML markup as much as possible by eliminating code bloat, write clean, validating HTML, come up with a good linking structure, use CSS to lay out your page with the "meaty" content coming first in the source, use a <title> that's laser-targetted to the page content, and keep the content itself focused and relevant. Those are the main things.
The spider takes in the whole html document unless it's really huge. Once the search engine begins processing, it may discount things like a few attributes here and there, but essentially everything gets processed and stored for further number crunching as the algorithms try to determine relevance for different queries.