A search engine can be a website’s best friend. A listing near the top of Yahoo or Google will bring more eyeballs to your site than e-mail, banner ads, print media and even television ads, according to a recent article from Online Marketer. And the best part is, search engines don’t cost you a dime.
That being said, getting your listing to the top, where it’s most likely to be seen, is not easy. You need to understand search engines’ idiosyncratic ways of registering sites. You need to know how to hardwire your own site to make it show up when they comb the Net for targets. You need to understand when and why competitors outrank you.
Maintaining a top search listing — as thousands of new websites hit the Net every week — is like clamoring up a hill that keeps getting steeper and taller. Here are some tips.
AltaVista is a search engine. Yahoo is a directory. Knowing how they differ in site indexing may mean the difference between getting a high ranking or one off in cyberoblivion.
Key to improving your Web site’s rank in the different search engines is to understand the basic criteria by which search engines index and then retrieve documents. There are two primary kinds of search services:
1. Search engines: These rely on “software spiders” to index websites. You submit your page to a search engine, and the spider will index your entire site. Theoretically, these spiders might find your site by accident, but odds are they won’t unless you go to them and tell them about your site by filling out their “Submit” page. Examples of search engines are AltaVista, Google, MSN.com, Snap.com and Lycos.
2. Directories: These rely on submissions from users and website owners to populate their indexes. Most directories add your site to their index, but generally they link only to your home page rather than indexing the full text of each page on your site. Examples of directories are Yahoo!, AOL Search and Open Directory.
There’s a pervasive myth among Web site marketers that simply submitting your Web site to hundreds or thousands of search engines will increase traffic to your site. That’s not true! Submitting alone does not guarantee that your site will be found in these search engines. When someone queries a search engine for a keyword related to your site’s services, does your page appear in the top 10 matches — or does your competition’s?
If you’re not listed within the first two or three pages (the top 10 to 30 search matches) of results, you lose, no matter how many engines you submitted your site to. Studies demonstrate that most search engine users have neither the patience nor the time to wait for more than three pages of search matches to load. If your site isn’t found in the top 10 to 30 matches when someone performs a keyword query in the major search engines, your website might as well be a billboard in the woods. Nobody will find it, nobody will come.
There are two barriers to solving this problem. First, you have to know the techniques that will move you into a top 10 position. Once you learn how to achieve a top 10 search position, you have to monitor your progress because rankings take time to rise and can fall without warning. Monitoring rankings manually is too time consuming. Fortunately, this critical step can be performed effortlessly with rank measurement tools now available.
A top 10 ranking in a major search engine such as Yahoo!, Lycos or AltaVista often will generate more targeted traffic than an expensive banner advertising campaign. Plus, a good search engine position is free — anyone can do it.
Major search engines attract more visitors than any other Web sites. Search engines are among the most visited Web sites, according to MediaMetrix.com and other audit bureau services. Other forms of online advertising, such as banner ads, are expensive. Just a few good positions under a few important keywords can deliver the same or better results — for free!
Bulk submitting is a bit like being in the phone book. It doesn’t ensure even one phone call — you need a good listing and a large display ad in the yellow pages. In search engines, the higher you rank under important keywords, the more traffic you’ll get.
Search engines generate more traffic to websites than almost any other source. This was demonstrated by the 10th WWW User Survey conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology (paraphrased): The ways in which people discover websites:
1. Links from other web pages 88 percent 2. Via search engines 85 percent 3. From friends 65 percent
This study shows that almost 90 percent of web users find websites through search engines. This confirms something most Web markers are just now learning — good positioning in search engines will produce big results!
Once you invest just a bit of time implementing these specific techniques, you will move your site from “the Land of the Lost” into “the Land of the Found” — found at the top of search engines’ rankings, that is.
By Fredrick Marckini and Inc. Magazine