How To Be Found On The Net

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6 th Jun 2004
You want your web site to be found? Here are some tips that I¹ve picked up during the last five years of designing web sites. Most of these tips have never been mentioned previously, yet they are *extremely important* to the success of your web site!

* The more the better – You can have a single web page and fill it with 300 key words and phrases but it probably wonąt get a high ranking on any search engine because the actual “relevance” of each individual key word is low. Far better to have 300 web pages on your site, with a few key words repeated three times on each. That way, the relevance of those particular key words is high for the specific page on which they appear. Better still if a key word appears in the page title, the meta key tags, the first heading and as the first emboldened word. Each page should also contain sentences which are relevant to its subject, amounting to at least 100 words, otherwise a search engine is likely to ignore it or consider it to be “spam”. This “rule” is especially applicable to your Index page. If it contains only a heading and the words “click picture to enter”, for example, a search engine will not give it a high ranking and may even ignore it completely!
* One at a time- How can you create *three hundred* pages? Easy: one at a time. You don’t have to write them all at once; consider it an ongoing project. One hundred words per page is sufficient. For example, consider a site that sells Satellite Television accessories. There are lots of key words that people might search for in order to find such a site. You need to create a specific page for every one. Here is a few:
Title: Satellite Television Accessories. Repeat this key phrase..
Title: Satellite Dishes. (dishes.htm)
Title: Television Aerials. (aerials.htm) etc.
Title: TV Distribution Amplifiers.
Title: Satellite Cable.
Title: Satellite Receivers.
Title: Remote Control Handsets.
Title: Satellite Decoders
.. and so on. Each page gives some information about the specific item or subject and repeats the key word or phrase a number of times. In addition, common misspellings of the word can be added to the meta tags and put at the bottom of the page. Don’t try to hide them by making them the same colour as the background – some search engines see this as “spamming”. Put them in full view under the title “Common misspellings” or “For the search engines”. For example: “Sattelite, satalite, satallite, statallite, antena, arial, aeriel, ariel, reciever …”
Adding misspelt words like this can often put your page at the top of the “found” list when the person searching is not able to spell. (Whether you want to attract illiterates is another question! However, in my experience, such people are usually rich brain surgeons and company directors who normally employ a clerk to do their typing).
* Foreign words- In Europe it is especially important to include non-English words, too, since you don’t want to exclude potential sales in Germany,France, Spain….For example, the word for “Remote Control Handset” in German is “Fernbedienung”. If you want to sell to countries whose first language is not English then it will be worth your while to look up the most important words and add them to your page. If you are in the USA or Canada, remember that not all Hispanics and French Canadians are poor!
* Contents Page Link- Every page should have a link back to the contents page. Imagine searching for a subject and finding a page with a brief mention of it. “This looks promising, but how do I find the home page or contents page of this site?” Sometimes it’s obvious but sometimes it’s impossible to find, particularty if the web site uses a “phantom URL” or a redirect system. Be sure to put a “Back to Contents” link on every page.
Pages within a frame can be especially problematic since the search engine can link you direct to an inner page without the frame page that contains the contents list! However, if the pages are within a frame, make sure you add the “_parent” tag to the “Contents Page” link, otherwise you could end up with a frame inside a frame – very annoying for the visitor.
Some of your pages may be created *only* to attract search engines. You may want the visitor to click on “Back to Contents” immediately. You won’t want a visible link from the Contents page to that page but you must have some form of link, otherwise the search engine is unlikely to find the page in the first place. For these pages, it’s usually best to have a single pixel image that matches the background colour. Use this pixel image as the link. It doesn’t matter if somebody clicks on it but you don’t want it to be an obvious link that distracts the visitor from the main contents list. However, it’s better if every page contains really useful information in the form of sentences, rather than a jumble of key words to attract the search engines.
* Search engines page- Another invisible link to a “search engines” page can be employed. Create a page that lists every search engine that you can find, with proper links to each. Put an invisible link to that page from your contents page. In fact, you could make the link visible if you wish. Many search engines like to find a link to themselves and such a link will increase the ranking of your site. For a list of some search engines, look at this page:
* Never delete a file- If a web page has been registered with a number of search engines, you’d be crazy to erase it, wouldn’t you? Well, there must be a lot of crazy people out there! Every time I do a search I find at least half a dozen links to files which “no longer exist”.
If I decide that a page is no longer relevant, I remove links TO it but I leave the page intact (apart from removing offers for sale, prices or anything else that’s out of date). I make sure there’s a “This page is no longer updated” (or similar) notice and a “Return to Contents” link. This page continues to attract visitors to my web site, even though it is no longer specifically relevant. NEVER delete a file. Likewise, never delete a web site if you can possibly avoid it. I have my own “personalised” URLs now but I still maintain my original web site because its pages are registered with hundreds of search engines.
* Advertise in News Groups- Many search engines monitor the USENET News Groups. Most News Groups do not permit advertising but there’s nothing to stop you from replying to somebody’s posted question with a suggestion like: “I had this problem, too, and I found the answer at“. Having your web site URL appear in a number of News Groups can increase its ranking with some search engines.
* Add it to your signature- Whenever you send an e-mail message, make sure your signature includes your web site URL. This is advertising at its cheapest and, often, most effective. Even if you are writing to an existing customer, he/she may have mislaid your web site URL or may be thinking about getting around to ordering something else, maybe, sometime, if he/she can be bothered! With your URL in front of them, all they have to do is click on it. Repeat business is the easiest to get so make it easier still.
* Put it on your stationery and vehicles- Print your web site URL in as many places as possible. It represents FREE advertising. Put it on your company stationery, your vehicles, free gifts, products, brochures and anything else that people see. I am continually amazed to find companies that do not do this!
I hope this helps in your future marketing decisions.

About author:
David Bell is Manager, Online Marketing, at , a leading Search Engine Optimization services firm and Advertising Agency.

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