Users of the Internet will find your site from a variety of places: an advertisement, word of mouth, or from a search engines. 60% of your site visitors will find you on via a search engine. Making it imperative that your site is listed. However, just being listed isn’t good enough, you also need to rank well on search engines.
What does "ranking well" mean? I am sure you have done a search and had the search engine turn up 475,999 possible sites. Are you going to scroll through all of them? Of course not!. You will make your selections from the top ten, twenty, maybe even thirty website listings. Most Internet users will select a website from the first page. What does this mean to you? It means that if your site is not ranked within the top twenty spots to get noticed. It is possible to rank well on search engines but it takes a lot of effort, thought and patience.
Getting a site ranked well on search engines begins with the design of the website. Above all, it is very important that your home page contain a minimum of one paragraph of text. META tags need be placed on every page of your site and should be customized for each page. (For more on META tags see March 2000 issue of Virtualtech News. If nothing else, the title should be different for each page. ALT tags should be attached to every photo and graphic on your site. Keywords and phrases should be used throughout your site, especially on the home page. However, you don’t want your page to read like a telegram, nor do you want the frequency of a word or phrase too high. If a word or phrase appears too often either in the META tags or on your site, a search engines might think you are spamming them and delete you from their engine. The links (navigation) on your site need to be clear so that search engines can index your site easily and quickly. Search engine spiders can be fickle and if they "get lost" at your site they will just abandon the indexing.
The next step to ranking well is to be sure your META tags are well written and contain keywords and phrases that people will actually search on. You want to avoid "fluff" as much as you can. Let’s say the title of your website is "Crosby Lake, the most peaceful place on earth." It sounds wonderful but will people search for "peaceful place"? How about this instead "Crosby Lake, Westport Canada, great fishing, camping, vacationing." Now you have "Crosby Lake", "Westport", "Canada", "fishing", "camping", and "vacationing" all as possible keyword searches. However, be careful not to let your title and description read like a list of keywords. On most search engines the title and description are what appear when an Internet user does a search and will serve as your "ad" to get them to choose your site over your competitions.
The next step is to submit your site. I am sure you have received several emails saying that company ABC will submit your site to over 400 search engines for $19.99. These companies electronically submit to 400 search engines, however; those 400 search engines only account for about 7% of all Internet searches. 93.7% of all web searches are done on 3 search engines, and these search engines do not accept electronic submission. They want people to take the time to visit their site, find the appropriate category and complete the "submit a site" form. Some search engines put the new sites at the top of the list, however, most put them some where in the middle and wait to see how popular the site is or wait for the site to be re-indexed drawing, the search engines attention back the site.
Submitting the site once is not enough. There are several reasons for this 1) Your submission might have gotten lost 2) Your site might have been reviewed by someone who didn’t like it and it was deleted 3) Some search engines get so many submissions that on occasion they will just delete the submissions before they are indexed 4) The site might have been indexed but was ranked very low on the list. By resubmitting the site your chances of ranking well are increased. However, you don’t want to submit your site too often or search engines will see is as spamming and will delete your site. Virtualtech recommends your site be submitted every four to six weeks. This keeps your site in front of the search engines and helps to improve the ranking.