Understanding Search Engines
- Understand how search engines work
- Identify keywords and key phrases that succinctly describe your site
- Structure your HTML documents properly
- Submit your URL(s) to relevant search engines
- Monitor your results
1.Understand how search engines work
There are two basic kinds of search engines.
Directories such as Yahoo!, Infoseek, and LookSmartorganize information about sites into hierarchical listings, much like a telephonedirectory. Editors categorize each site and qualify it before it goes into thedirectory.
True search engines such as AltaVistaand HotBot regularly scour the entire Web and indexeverything they find, creating a more comprehensive, though less qualified, listing ofsites. The computer programs that do this - called " spiders," " robots" (or " 'bots"), or " crawlers" - constantly andautomatically browse the Web looking for pages to index.
Both types of search engines keep their listings in a proprietary database. Whenyou use a search engine, it looks in its database, not on the Web, to find sites thatmatch your query. An excellent source for more detailed information on how thesesites work can be found at Search Engine Watch.
2. Identify keywords and key phrases that succinctly describe your site
Distilling the essence of your site into a few keywords is very difficult work,but it is crucial that you make the effort if you want anyone to find you. You needto get inside the heads of potential visitors to your site and think about how theyperceive you. That perception will guide their choice of terms when they use asearch engine. The brief list (5-15 words) of keywords you come up with shouldinclude both your company name and the most relevant topical keywords that describe yourcompany.
In addition to selecting keywords accurately, you need to use them wisely. For anypage you want indexed with a search engine, be sure to include keywords in the page's title, in its metatags, and in the first few hundred characters of text on the page (more on this below).
The search engines won't reveal exactly how they analyze keywords and site content toindex pages, and they are constantly changing their methods to keep search engine spammersat bay, so getting and keeping a high search-engine placement is tough. The Keyword Density Analyzer claims to beable to keep you abreast of the ever-evolving algorithms that the search engines use todetermine which sites move to the top of their listings.
3. Structure your HTML documents properly
Each search engine indexes pages just a little bit differently (for details, seeSearch Engine Watch's SearchEngine Features page). In order to cover all your bases, you need to effectivelyuse three HTML tags:
- All search engines look at the TITLE tag, so be sure to includein it not only your company name but also copy that includes the most important keywordsfor your site.
- Many search engines look at the META tags in your site. The most important ones to include on your pages are the " description" and" keywords" tags. Search Engine Watch has an excellent page on how to use meta tags. There are also a number of sites that will help you create and test the meta tags for yourpage - among them are Meta Tag Builder, Web SiteGarage's Meta Tag Generator www.websitegarage.com, and Meta Medic.
- Be sure to include the > tag in your pages and to put yourkeywords within the first few lines of text that follow the tag.
Many search engine spiders can't read frames-based sites, so if you use framesit's important to include alternate copy that includes your keywords in a NOFRAMES tag on pages you want indexed. For detailed information on this issue, see SearchEngine Watch's frames page.
4.Submit your URL(s) to relevant search engines
All search engines accept suggestions for new additions to their database. Somerespond by sending a spider to index your site almost immediately; others may take three weeksto get to your site, and directories may take even longer, since an actual human beingneeds to evaluate your site before it is categorized and added to the listings.
A less time-consuming but more costly approach is to use a submission service such as Submit-it, Register-It.com,SelfPromotion.com, or Did-it. These services will submit informationabout your site to the major search engines, specialized search engines, and awardssites and other sites that evaluate sites. There are also several software programs that let you managethe submission process on your own computer. When using any of these services or software,keep your critical thinking skills on high alert. This is a crowded market, and notall the players have your best interest at heart.
5. Monitor your results
Search engine placement is a never-ending process, so you will need good tools to monitoryour search position on an ongoing basis. As a Workz member you have the use of a Search Engine Monitor www.searchenginemonitor.com, whichgives you a quick, graphical look at your position on five major search engines. Similar tools include WebPosition Analyzer, Position Agent, and ScoreCheck.
Working the search engines is a crucial piece of your online promotion plan. Youcan have the most useful, beautiful coin-collecting site on the Web, but if it doesn't show up in the main search engines' results when someone types in " coincollecting," you will have wasted all that site development time.
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