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Search Engine Exposure

Search engines are a great way to generate traffic to your site. However, getting your site ranked high in the search engines seems to require a bit of magic. Hopefully this document will shed some light on being successful in your favorite search engine.

Preparing Your Site - Submitting Your Site - Submitting Vs. Spamming

Preparing Your Site

Before submitting your site the first thing you should do is take a stroll through your pages to see if each one is ready for search engine submission. Pretend that you're a search engine and pay attention to your site's text content. After all, that's all that the search engines look at. When you look through each page, note the following:
  • Does each page have a title tag that contains some of your target "keywords"?

    Search engine technology changes a great deal but one thing seems to stay constant (for now). Pages with title tags containing keywords index higher than those without. Your target keywords are words you think your customers will use while trying to find sites like yours. For example, if you sell cordless telephones, your target keywords would include "phones, telephones, cordless phones and cordless telephones" among others. It's also a good idea to include some of the more common mis-spellings of your keywords as well.
     

  • Does each page make use of META tags?
  • Another common tactic that seems to work in many of the search engines is the use of META tags on your pages. META tags can contain a variety of information but the two most often used tags are the keywords and description tags. These tags reside in the <head> of your HTML document and are invisible to the casual web surfer. Some search engines, however, use these tags to rank your site. For more on META tags, please take a look at our META Tag Generator.
     

  • Does the text of your pages contain your target keywords?

    If your page selling cordless phones doesn't contain the word "cordless phone", how will the search engines know what the page is about? It seems far fetched for a page dealing with a subject to not contain any text regarding the subject but there are many sites that use only image elements to convey information.

    To get around this do not use images which could exist as text. You should make full use of the <img alt="Alternate Text" tag as well, sprinkling each one with some of your keywords.

    If your site is entirely based in Macromedia® Flash®, again, containing no text, the search engines will not index your site highly and you should provide alternate pages for the search engines to index from.
     

  • Is there anything else you can do to your pages to maximize their chances of being indexed?

    In addition to the tactics listed above there are a few more that your pages can utilize. Comment tags in HTML are often used to put reminders in a page but they can easily be used for other puposes such as "seeding" your pages with hidden text that only a search engine will pick up. A comment tag looks like this:

    <!-- Your cordless telephone headquarters. We've got telephones and cordless phones from all the major companies. -->

    A few of these on each page will bring the word count up as well as the keyword count, both of which are good.

    One of the last things that can help your site doesn't involve manipulating code, but rather involves your site's popularity. If your site is linked to from many other sites then your chances of being indexed higher become greater. Why? The answer is simple; search engines spidering those other sites will pick up your links and visit your site more often.

Submitting Your Site

After hours of hard work building your site and making sure each page is ready for submission, it's finally time to submit. There are many companies that offer search engine submission services and some even guarantee that they can get you in the top 10. These companies are certainly a viable way to get the spiders to crawl your way but, we've found that submitting your site by hand will yield you greater results.

So how do you go about submitting your site by hand? Easy, simply start going to each search engine and directory and look on their home page for a "Submit Site", "Add Site", "Add URL" or similar button or link. Every search engine and directory is different and some engines will want just your site's URL while others will want more information. Search directories like Yahoo! often require that you find a category that your site belongs in before beginning the submission process.

Once you've submitted your site you then begin the wait. Many search engines and directories take up to a month before including your site so if your pages don't appear within a week or two, give it a little more time. If you are still not seeing results you might need to make some changes to your pages and resubmit. Here's a list of some of the major search engines & directories:

Major Search Engines Major Search Directories Some Smaller Search Directories and Engines

Submitting Vs. Spamming

Taken from AltaVista's Add URL page:

"Sometimes sites submit a large number of pages to AltaVista hoping to have them show up often on our result pages. They submit pages with numerous keywords, or with keywords that are unrelated to the content of the pages. Some other people submit pages that present our spider with content that differs from what users will see. We strongly discourage these practices.

Attempts to fill AltaVista's index with misleading or promotional pages lower the value of the index for everyone and render Web indices and your search experience worthless. We do not allow URL submissions from customers who spam the index and will exclude all such pages from the index."

As you can see, AltaVista, like many other search engines and directories, takes a very strong stance against anyone "spamming" their index. What exactly is spamming? Many people know the term in regards to junk email but it also applies to search engine submissions. According to the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing's spamming means "To abuse any network service or tool for promotional purposes".

Some examples of tactics that might be considered spamming include:

  • Creating pages filled with one phrase, i.e. "Cordless Telephones" repeated hundreds of times on a single page.
  • Using keywords that have nothing to do with the content of your site.
  • Having text containing keywords that is the same color as the page's background color.
  • Submitting your site repeatedly. Some search engines allow this, other do not.
When you do submit your site please take the time to read each search engine and directory's policies on multiple submittals, spamming etc. Spamming will not help you generate traffic to your site, it can only harm your exposure.

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