Search engine

If you don’t bother to submit your site anywhere else, it won’t make much of a difference. Chances are that 99% of your search engine and directory traffic will come from these 12 sites. Unless you have a real reason to believe that you can get traffic from another search engine, it’s not worth your time to submit by hand, or track your ranking ? just use software if you have it, or a free submission service.

se6

Many of the search engines listed here, such as HotBot, have begun to offer web indexes as well as traditional keyword searches. These indexes, more often than not, come straight from the Open Directory.

There are a few other portals that might be of interest to you, now or in the future. IWon.com is spending god-awful amounts of money to draw traffic from other search engines, but so far their site is too slow to retain many visitors. Mamma.com has been running television advertising for some time. GoTo.com is a “pay for placement” search engine, that has also been spending big money to get visibility, but how many web surfers really want to be sold to the highest bidder? Some sites do get a lot of targeted traffic from GoTo.com, and we have an article on the bidding process to help you decide whether you want to give it a try.

Which Search Engines Really Matter?

We’ve all seen the ads offering to submit our web site to thousands of search engines. We’ve all wondered whether there really are that many search engines out there. There probably really are, but who cares? If nobody uses them, they don’t matter to you. Unless you’re using software to automate the process, you shouldn’t bother with them at all. Even if you do submit to thousands, you really need to pay attention to a very few, listed here.

se5

First, we list the search engines. Follow our tips on preparing your site, keyword strategy, and sub 1000 mitting, and you’ll be well prepared to get traffic from them.

AltaVista.com
Infoseek.com
Excite.com
Lycos.com
Webcrawler.com
Hotbot.com
NorthernLights.com
MSN.com
PlanetSearch.com
Next, the directories. You can’t just submit your site and expect it to get indexed, because these three are all put together by human beings, who visit your site before deciding whether to include it. Follow our tips, but keep in mind that very few sites are listed in all three. About.com is the hardest, but it’s worth trying if your site is good enough.

Indexed alphabetically

It appears that because of the way searches are indexed alphabetically, there is a slight advantage to using ALL CAPS in your page titles. We hate to give up any possible edge, so we use ALL CAPS page titles in our doorway pages. Your mileage may vary – we don’t like all caps for normal pages, because it’s harder to read, and you don’t want your visitors to have to deal with all caps for their bookmarks and shortcuts.

se4
Don’t ever lose sight of the fact that search engines index web pages, not whole web sites. You have a list of keywords that you want your site to rank high on, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that every page has to rank high on every keyword on the list. For each page, you should have a single keyword or phrase that you’re trying to maximize, and that should be promoted throughout the page, from the title, to the META tags, to the content itself. With enough pages of quality content, your site will afford you plenty of opportunities to place highly-relevant pages for all of the keywords on your list.

Using Keywords in Page Titles

One of the most important places to consider for keyword placement within your site is in the titles of the pages themselves. Since most search engines only look at the first few words (maybe five words at most) in the title, you’ll only be able to throw in a couple of keywords at most, if your titles are to make any sense to your visitors. If your page titles look like a string of keywords, instead of a title, your visitors will perceive your site to be of lower quality, and they’ll be less likely to come back, refer your site to others, etc.

se3

Since you can only 1000 place a few keywords in each page title, how do you decide? Your main page should carry your top-priority keywords, of course. But your site has many pages, and if you follow our strategy of multiple page submissions, you should have plenty of page titles with which to promote all of the keywords you’re trying to target. As described in our article on doorway pages, each entry page you submit should focus on a single keyword group. The keywords you use on the page title should be whichever keywords are more suited to the actual content of the page.

My best method

So here’s the “big list” of where to place your keywords:

Page title ? use one keyword or phrase per page, in the first five words of the title. Titles longer than 5 words don’t seem to be indexed at all.
META Tags ? put the top keyword or phrase for each page into the “keyword” tag and repeat it in the “description” tag. Only the first 100-150 characters are going to matter in most cases, so put each page’s keyword target first in the list.

se2
Content ? weave your keywords into the content of your pages. If there’s more than one way to say it, stick to one single spelling or tense for each page. Don’t try to fool the search engines by repeating keywords for no reason, or hiding a string of keywords in an invisible color ? they’re all hip to this trick by now, and you may find that your site doesn’t get indexed at all.
Links ? use keywords or phrases whenever possible in the text of your links. Again, don’t try to “spam” the search engines by repeating the keywords several times. If keywords appear on the pages your site is linked from (reciprocal links), this will also improve your ranking.
Domain Name ? there does appear to be a small advantage in having keywords appear in your domain name. Website Promotion Central has a pretty long domain name, but it works better for the search engines than our old name, www.
If you follow our keyword strategy throughout your site, it will definitely make a difference. Whether it makes enough of a difference to put your site on top is another question. To hit the top of the rankings, you’ll probably have to resort to diabolical means, like bridge pages and the like. Just remember that search engine positioning is a probably full time job for many of your competitors. If you have that kind of budget, you’re probably better off hiring a marketing consultant and an advertising agency instead of visiting this site! The point is, if you don’t land at the top of the search engine rankings after following our plan, your next step should be to increase your site’s link popularity by launching a serious reciprocal linking campaign.

Succeed With Perfect Keyword Placement

You have to wonder why some pages rank higher than others sometimes. For the most part, though, it comes down to the frequency and placement of the keywords. We’ve done a little experimenting with this (okay, a lot of experimenting) to try to determine what matters the most when a search engine ranks your pages.

se1

The results of our experiments told us a whole lot that we already knew, and a few things that were a little bit surprising. First of all, the conventional wisdom that META tags and page titles matter held true. It’s also true that the number of times a keyword or phrase is repeated on the page helps. It also helps to put the keyword in the first paragraph of text on the site, because many search engines don’t read any farther for keywords, at least on the first pass.

What we didn’t know was that many search engines seem to find the keywords used in your links to be more important than normal keywords. For example, if you’re trying to maximize your ranking for the phrase, “freeze-dried gerbil food,” you obviously want to put that in the META tags, and repeat it as often as grammar allows in the body of the page. In addition, if you have a link to your order form, you want the link to say “order freeze-dried gerbil food” instead of “order now.”