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Search Engine Promotion

What are search engines anyway? How do search engines work? What is the most effective way to search for what I am looking for? How can I use search engines to advertise my web site? What are some good ways to optimize my site for search engines? All these questions answered and more in the sections below.

We are highly trained search engine optimization experts. How do you know?
Chances are, you found this page by searching in the search engines for promotion ideas, right?

Meta Tags and Keywords

Meta tags are similar to an index of a book. They can be used to describe your entire site, or each individual page. They are placed in the header section of your HTML document. There are many different kinds of meta tags, the 3 most important being keywords, description, and title. The meta tag layout looks similar to this:
<HEAD>
<TITLE>My site</TITLE>
<META name=”description” content=”Everything you wanted to know about the universe.”>
<META name=”keywords” content=”planets, stars, moons, solar system, comets”>
</HEAD>
Not only is this information such as the title important for your visitors, but a good portion of search engines actually index and rank your pages value by the contents of these tags. When users search for keywords in a search engine, the engines process the request by searching for documents that contain these keywords, and rank them accordingly, then return the results to the user. It’s generally a good idea to use keywords in pairs instead of just one word, searching for that particular word will return too many results in a search engine, so pairing up your keywords usually gives you a better ranking. You do NOT have to seperate your keywords with commas. In fact, some say that by not putting commas between keywords, gives the search engines ( those that still use keywords ) a chance to make more phrases out of that tag. 

Do’s and Don’ts of search engine listings

Here are some important tips to look over before submitting your site to search engines:

1. Pick your keywords well, and be sure they appear at key points on your page, such as the page title. I would recommend not using commas to separate your keywords.

2. Have relevant content, and don’t try spamming the search engines with repetitive keywords and phrases, a lot of engines can catch this now, and will ban you from getting listed. Do NOT try to use small text to hide keywords, that will get you banned also. As will using keyword rich text that is the same color as your background. Do NOT cloak, or use doorway pages. If you don’t know what these are, good, don’t do them. You will get banned.

3. Be wary of frames and image maps, as they can cause problems. Also some engines will have problem reading certain types of documents.

4. Use META tags, and feel free to submit your key pages. Although this isn’t really necessary anymore, as most engines will spider your site.

5. Verify and maintain your listing. Check engines often to make sure your listing isn’t slipping, or was removed

Here are some important tips to look over before submitting your site to search engines:

1. Pick your keywords well, and be sure they appear at key points on your page, such as the page title. I would recommend not using commas to separate your keywords.

2. Have relevant content, and don’t try spamming the search engines with repetitive keywords and phrases, a lot of engines can catch this now, and will ban you from getting listed. Do NOT try to use small text to hide keywords, that will get you banned also. As will using keyword rich text that is the same color as your background. Do NOT cloak, or use doorway pages. If you don’t know what these are, good, don’t do them. You will get banned.

3. Be wary of frames and image maps, as they can cause problems. Also some engines will have problem reading certain types of documents.

4. Use META tags, and feel free to submit your key pages. Although this isn’t really necessary anymore, as most engines will spider your site.

5. Verify and maintain your listing. Check engines often to make sure your listing isn’t slipping, or was removed

Robots, spiders, worms and crawlers

All major search engines send out a little program called a ‘spider’ to index your pages. Some search engines use them to ‘index’ your entire site, some just 1 or 2 pages. Spiders take a ‘snapshot’ of your page, and determine what your page is about by looking at text on the page, META tags, and various other page factors. Most directories such as Looksmart, Zeal, and the Open Directory Project also send out a spider. However, since they are not search engines, the primary function of their spiders are to ensure your site is still up and running.

These robots leave a trace behind of their access attempts in your server log files just as a human visitor does, so if you have access to your stats you will be able to spot them. Your best hint of this indexing attempt will be seen by checking access attempts to your ‘robots.txt’ file in the root of your webs directory. If you don’t have a ‘robots.txt’ file that is because you never created one. Don’t worry however, a spider will still crawl your site without one. All search engines check for this little text file that will tell the crawler where and where not to go. It can also allow and disallow certain robots if you find a particular spider to be nasty in nature. The main purpose of this file is so the robot will not index directories or files it isn’t supposed to, such as cgi directories, administration files, etc. If you wish to create a ‘robots.txt’ file but don’t know where to start, visit the ‘official’ robots.txt site by clicking here.

Unfortunately, there are also malicious spiders on the web that are used for reasons other than search engines. Some spiders are designed to copy your website to the clients hard-drive, others are designed to collect e-mail addresses to be used for sending unsolicited e-mail.

Popular search terms and words

One things many search engines do, is keep a database of popular search phrases. Many also have real-time viewing of these searches for your viewing pleasure. It will kind of give you an idea of what people are looking for, how they are searching for keywords and phrases, and in some cases how perverted some people are.

Tips on searching

Sometimes it can be a pain typing in a search and returning thousands of matches. Try to use less-then-common words if possible, such as ‘the’, ‘and’, and ‘if’. ( Most engines will ignore common words however ). Use more then 1 word when searching, and put the words in quotes, such as “world news”, instead of just world news. This will ensure that both words have to appear in the returned matches, not just one or the other.

Spider List – Frequent Web Crawlers and Spiders

As you probably know by now, they aren’t human visitors, but rather little programs designed mostly to index data for search engines.

Keep in mind that just because a spider visits your site, it doesn’t mean that your site was added at that time, or will ever get added for that matter. Some sites may take several days to several weeks to index after a particular crawl. Some, even take months.

Website promotion tips and tricks

There are literally thousands of methods of promotion on the Internet today. From free directory and search engine listings, to pay listings, to free-for-all listings ( FFA ) and much more. In the following pages, I will go over these methods and evaluate each and leave it up to you to decide which ones fit your site. Some important things to keep in mind are read, read, and then when your done, read some more. The bottom line is, do your homework about promoting your site! If you have any questions.

Directory Listings

There are several directories out there today.Yahoo! being the most popular. Yahoo can be the most difficult site to get listed on. One of these reasons is the fact that they add sites by hand, not by computer. Each site submitted for review actually has a human editor visit your site, and check it out. If it doesn’t fit the bill, it isn’t added. However Yahoo is well worth the time, effort, and stress to try and get listed. One downside of Yahoo! is that if you cannot get in for free using the free submit, you will not only have to pay a fee to get listed, you will now have to pay an annual fee to remain listed. However if you have decent keywords in your page title and description, you should get your money’s worth.

The Open Directory Project at DMOZ is also a directory, and the directory at DMOZ provides search results to engines such as Google, AOL search, and much more, so it is well worth trying to get listed there. Some tips on getting listed: Fill out the forms as complete and as accurate as possible, and be patient. Wait several weeks and if your site isn’t listed yet, resubmit it again. Do not submit more often then every 3 weeks or so, or they may not list you at all. DMOZ also has human editors in each category that will review your site before listing.

Looksmart recently purchased Zeal. Both are human edited directories, and both are similar to Yahoo! and DMOZ. Only Looksmart employees edit for the Looksmart.com directory. Most are businesses, and pay a nominal fee to get listed. Looksmart is generally considered a commercial directory, since you must pay to get listed. However many noncommercial sites are listed as well, especially before Zeal was purchased.

Zeal is a human edited directory, very similar to the Open directory project. Most are volunteers, however Looksmart editors help out. Zeal is for noncommercial sites only, and getting listed in Zeal will get you into the Looksmart directory, and its partner sites as well, the same way as if you were a commercial site and paid to get in via the Looksmart submit.

To get listed, you must pass the member quiz for Zeal, be a noncommercial site, and find the correct category for your website. In some cases you may already be listed, that is, if a Zealot ( a Zeal volunteer ) or Looksmart editor has already found your site and added it.

Search Engine tips and suggestions

Here is a brief overview on how to use Search Engines to help promote your site.

There are many search engines on the net today, and there seems to be more coming out often. However, the big list remains the same, Google, Northern Light, Altavista,Lycos, Hotbot, Excite, Overture ( formally goto.com ), MSN, AOL Netfind, are pretty much the biggest ones today. No matter what, getting your site listed with these are a top priority, they will generate a lot of traffic for you if you use your META tags correctly.( Among other things, see below ) It is also important in getting listed in the directory sites. Don’t confuse directories from search engines, they are different.

Most of these engines will spider your site, and depending on the spider schedule, it may take up to 6 weeks for you to get listed with them, so once you have submitted your site for indexing, be patient. Usually the engines post a time frame in which your site will be listed, so keep an eye out for it. It is best to read over our search engine section, and be sure you understand how each one works.

There are several key things that go into engines returning search results, which will determine at what place your site returns in the listing. META tags, link popularity, themes, and word count are the most important.

Link popularity basically means ‘how many’ places your site appears in a search engine, from other sites around the Internet. ( How may other sites have a link to your site ). Link popularity is based goes by a per page basis. So it will vary depending on which page you are on at your website. Obviously if no one links to your front page, but about 20 other sites link to another page of yours, that ‘other page’ will have a much better link popularity rating. Quality links are important. Its best to try to exchange links with sites that are similar in content to yours, and have them use keywords in the link to your site instead of just your site name, depending on which page they are linking to.

I would much rather have them use the second choice over the first. Spidering search engines, such as Google, would see the second choice as a much better rating for that page for those keywords, and therefore when someone searches for “Free HTML templates” on Google, that page would have a slightly better chance to rank higher in the results. Of course, this is only one of many factors.

Themes is just what the name suggests. Every page on your site should have a theme, and try to stick to it. Try to get links INTO that page from sites with similar content to that page, and feel free to place 1 or 2 OUTBOUND links in that page, to other sites ( or other pages on YOUR site ) that are similar in content. Pick a few key phrases, and use them in the page title, description, keywords, and in any paragraph titles that are bold, underlined, or italicized.

A few things to remember, most important is, DO NOT TRY TO CHEAT THE SEARCH ENGINES! They, or one of your competitor’s, will find out and could get you banned, resulting in tons of lost traffic to your site. Don’t try to ‘stuff’ keywords into hidden comment tags, excessive ALT text spamming, hidden links, etc. I hope you get the idea. You have been warned.

Newsgroups

Usenet has been around a lot longer then the World wide web, with thousands of topics in pretty much every subject you can think of. However, there are few groups in which you can actually post your advertisement and not be considered a spammer. Be careful when posting, and be sure to read the posting rules of that group before you post your message. Some groups will allow you to use a signature, and if you are posting relevant information concerning that topic, some of these groups will allow you to use a signature ( such as your name, company name, web address, etc. ) in which you can give yourself a little free advertising. Do NOT cross-post your message to newsgroups, this is one method of spamming and could get you banned from your ISP if they catch you.

Free-for-all pages

The number of Free-for-all pages ( FFA ) on the Internet as grown 1000 fold in the past few years. It used to be that FFA pages were a good place to obtain some free link populartiy. This is generally no longer true. MOST FFA pages ( also known as link farms ) have been ignored from search engines alltogether. Google, in particular, has taken a strong stance against FFA pages and various other forms of link farms in general. Now, it is best just to avoid them, and all other forms of link farms.

If you DO decide to submit your site to link farms, keep in mind that you should not use your regular e-mail address, as you may receive tons of confirmation e-mail messages. In this scenario, give out an alternate e-mail address instead, but be sure it is a valid address and not a fake one. More than likely the e-mail address you use will be sold, or added to a spammers hotlist somewhere.

Link exchanges and link popularity

Link exchanges

There are many link exchange programs out there today. Some work, some don’t. If the link exchange involves a banner, be sure your banner is effective, and conforms to the standards set by the link exchange program. Be sure it loads fast, and it fits the right dimensions. Ask others what they think of it, get as many opinions as you can on the banner before deciding to use it. Do some research on the program, and feel free to e-mail those that use it to see there opinions on the program.

Some link exchange programs will give you one banner/link display per one you display, others will give you 1 per 2 you display. Be sure you read the terms of the program before you commit yourself.

Link popularity

Another form of link exchange, is to contact other webmasters with similar content to yours, and ask them to exchange links with you. This will eventually be a win-win for everyone involved, and will increase your link popularity also. Many search engines take into account link popularity. By also having sites linking to you that are similar in content, you establish a theme for your site, which some search engines use themes also.

Other methods

There are many, many other methods of promotion available. Some of which you can figure out on your own and by doing research.

One good thing that works for me, out of everything we spoke about in this section, is you can try to e-mail the webmasters of other sites similar to yours and ask to exchange links for a period of time. This works great, and gives exposure to both your site and theirs.

The bottom line is, read, read and read some more. There are a lot of things that work, and a lot of things that don’t.