AltaVista is one of the most popular search engines on the World Wide Web. It has an easy submission process and usually indexes sites within just a few days. Because of its popularity, you should ensure that your site is properly listed with AltaVista so that it ranks high when a search is conducted for the goods or services you offer.

AltaVista uses a "software spider," or "robot," named Scooter to read and index sites. A spider is a type of search engine that gets information by starting at the Web page you submit and then visiting each Web page to which your page has a link. This process is repeated for each page the spider visits. For instance, suppose you submit a page on cars to a search engine that uses spiders. You have several pages in your site and also a link to a Corvette dealer. The spider will crawl from your page to the Corvette dealer's page. It then indexes the dealer's page, following all the links from that page, until it literally crawls all over the World Wide Web, indexing everything it finds. What Scooter sees when it visits your site will determine how your site is placed in the AltaVista index.

There are four important steps to follow to list your site with AltaVista: You must understand the search methodology, prepare your site, submit your site, and evaluate your placement in AltaVista. This checklist will walk you through each of these steps.

Understand AltaVista's Search Methodology
AltaVista's focus is on keywords and metatags. Keywords are words in your Web page that are used to create an index that best describes the contents of your site. Metatags are special HTML tags that provide information about your Web page. They are unlike other HTML tags because they don't affect how your page is displayed. They provide information about who created the page, how often it is updated, what the page is about, and which keywords represent the page's content.

Prepare Your Site for Submission to AltaVista
AltaVista's Scooter spider may visit your site only once every few months. Therefore, it's critical that you completely prepare your site before you submit it. Without question, the better you prepare your site, the higher it will rank in the search result listings. The most important steps you need to take to get your site ready are to make sure your site is finished and tested, create keywords and search phrases, and make sure you have used metatags correctly.

Submit Your Site to AltaVista
Once you've laid the groundwork, submitting your site to AltaVista is a relatively simple and painless process. Follow this link to AltaVista's Add/Remove a URL page. AltaVista first verifies the URL and then adds it to its index. Once indexed, the page should be available for search engine queries within a few days. However, indexing on the AltaVista mirror sites can take up to three weeks.

Evaluate Your Submission to AltaVista
First, search for your site on AltaVista to make sure that it has been indexed. Indexing can happen in just a few days but may take significantly longer, particularly for AltaVista's mirror sites. If you can't find your site six weeks after you submit it, submit your site again. Your site should be indexed no later than the end of the second six-week period. Search by keywords and phrases that you would expect to return your site in the search engine listings. Check to see where in the listings your site appears.

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