Optimizing your site to get it ranked highly on the search engines can be a complicated subject. To simplify things, it’s helpful to first understand how search engines add sites to their database. Then we’ll cover some tips that you can put on your own website that will help you to get listed on search engines and get a higher ranking.
The Major Players
Let’s start off with the major search engines, the ones that most people use. Google is the most widely used search engine with Yahoo and MSN searches following close behind. While there are thousands of search engines, it’s always a good idea to start with submitting your website to the three largest. Why? Because 95% of all searches go through either Google, Yahoo or MSN.
Who Is Powered by Whom?
Many search engines do not have their own database, but rely instead upon data supplied by someone else. This is important to know so that you can submit your site to the most popular search engine databases first. For example, AOL Search and Yahoo Search get data from Google, while MSN and HotBot get some data from Inktomi.
How Search Engines Read Your Site
There are two ways search engines read your site: automated (crawlers) and human-entered (directories). Crawlers follow the links found on your site and enter your site into their search database based on text they find on your pages. This text is either found on your public pages, or the text keywords found in behind-the-scenes “meta tags”. The amount of your keywords found on your page, the more weight it has with the search engines and the higher your ranking. But in case you think you can load your page with keywords in order to fool the search engine, think again. Search engines are smart and you can be penalized for “spamming” keywords on your website. Major crawlers include Google, AltaVista and Inktomi.
Human Directories are few and far between. Just imagine hiring enough people to research the millions of website on the Internet! It’s no wonder they’re steadily being replaced by automated crawlers. Yahoo is one of the most famous human directories, where real people actually evaluate your site and categorize it in their database directory. More and more these search engines are relying on partial automation for categorizing and listing new sites in the search engine database. In addition, getting your listing in a Directory for free can take months. Some human directories are charging a fee for business sites to be included in their directory.
How Search Engines Index and Rank Your Site
Search engines use several techniques to determine which category your site belongs in and what keywords or key phrases people will use to find your site when using the search engine.
When submitting your site to search engines, they will ask you four things: the title of your site, a short description of your site, your keywords or key phrases (what words or phrases people typically use to search for sites like yours) and what category your site belongs in. Then they will often crawl your site, checking to see if the keywords/key phrases you supplied match the text on your website. And remember, you will be penalized for spamming your keywords and rank LOWER because of it. Also it’s important to note that search engines can not read the text in graphics, so if you are using a graphic-based navigation or have your keywords on a graphic next to your logo, the search engine will not notice it.
Some search engines will rank your site based on your title, description and keywords that are supplied behind-the-scenes in special coding called “meta tags.” While not every search engine will read meta tags, it certainly can’t hurt to use them. Again, there are rules: your Title meta tag can’t be more than 100 characters, your Description meta tag can’t be more than 250 characters, and your Keyword meta tag can’t be more than 1,000 characters. And anti-spamming of keywords applies to meta tags as well – no more than six instances of the same word in your Keyword meta tag or you’ll be penalized by the search engine. For example, if my key phrases include “business coach,” “starting a business,” and “small business coach,” that counts as two uses of the word “coach” and three uses of the word “business”.
Submitting Your Site to Search Engines
Once your site is primed and ready for the search engines, then you have to submit it to them. You have two choices: either go to each search engine and submit your site individually, or use a search engine submission tool. Remember that the majority of searchers use either Google, Yahoo or MSN, so consider submitting to those first. You’ll often find a link on their main page where you can add a site to their search engine. If you want to automate the process, use an automated submission tool. Make sure the submission search tool you select will analyze your site to tell you if you’re really ready to submit, then submit your site to the top search engines for you.
Preparing your site for submission to search engines can feel like a daunting task. With these tips in mind, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration when it comes time to submitting your site and rank higher in search results.
See you on the Internet!
Karyn Greenstreet is a Small Business Coach and Self Employment Expert with 23 years of self-employment and computer industry experience. She shares tips, techniques and strategies with self-employed people to create and grow their businesses, stay focused and motivated, and perform at their peak. Visit her website at www.PassionForBusiness.com