Search engines and web site promotion
A few quick remarks-
What are commonly referred to as "search engines" are really part or all of the following componants:
- A database of information gleaned from web sites by robots
- A directory of web sites, catagorized by humans - typically submitted to the directory by the site owner, for a fee.
- A Search Engine - the program that searches through the database or directory to return results based on user criteria
- A portal - A web location to access the search engine or directory, often with a little complimentary advertising
- MetaSearch Engines - a portal that queries several other search engines, and organizes and presents the result.
- Pay per Click Engines- usually displayed by portals or search engines as featured links, preferred results, etc. these are advertising tied to the search term employed.
Alliances between search engines, directories and portals shift every 6 months or so, and the search engines themselves constantly tinker with their search algorithms. So getting good traffic from search engines is an ongoing effort.
Free submission to search engines and directories, with the notable exception of The Open Directory (ODP) (www.dmoz.org) is practically a thing of the past. Brand New Search Engines usually accept them to build their database, but otherwise be prepared to pay $200-$300 to have your site listed. Google will find your site itself, if you are listed in ODP, and/or Yahoo. It will not list you, period, if you are not in one of them. Both Yahoo and ODP have strict submission guidelines, and site quality criteria.
What do people search for to find you?
It may not be what you think, or want them to search for. Search terms and phrases employed tend to be more various, and less precise, then we would hope.
None of the major engines give access to detailed data about search terms, which is what we would like to know - ie how many folks in a week search for "unicycle makers in Oregon". Keyword (your targeted search word or phrase) suggestion tools, of limited usefulness, are available. A useful thing to do is see how people find you now, by checking your logs.
Search engines have gotten quite smart, even if they are returning your competitors site above yours. They return sites with the largest amount of good content for the search term employed - hence, the first requirement to getting good placement is having good, original content. The next concern is organizing content so that search engines will associate it with the terms your desired visitors will use.
Some things not to do.
Beware of Search engine submission services - you should always submit sites by hand. Do not repeat submissions, and if you are not using an express submit, allow 2-3 months for your site to be visible. Also, any site promotion service that does not adjust the content of your pages is probably not useful - and schemes that involve duplicate content, doorway pages, redirects, link farms, etc can get your site blacklisted. If it doesn't sound like a lot of careful patient work, it probably doesn't work.
Free Search engine Submissions?
The number of search engines offering free submission has declined sharply. Google, Fast (for the moment, they have announce a paid listing service), and Open Directory Project (ODP) are the main ones left. If you have a non-commercial site you may be able to get in Yahoo and Looksmart (via Zeal). But in general, Businesses will have to pay a fee for search engine submission.
Hiring a Pro
If it seems like all too much, you can hire help. If they promise you the moon, read the fine print.
Oregon web site design and promotion guide
May 17, 2002