Greg Gore is Vice President of Praxis International, Inc.
Technical Training, Consulting, and Publishing since 1988

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Using Search Engines to Promote Your
 Web Site

by
Greg Gore

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You probably already know that the best way to promote your web site is to get it listed on one of the major search engines, such as Alta Vista, Excite, Hotbot, Google, Lycos, or Yahoo. The trick is in knowing how to submit your site to increase your chances of getting it listed on the major search engines.

Search engines can be automated or can be hand indexed. Automated search engines use "spiders" to "crawl" from web page to web page using links. The spider software looks at the content of your site, records the content, and then, another software program ranks the site according to keyword relevance. The criteria the various search engines use to rank for relevance is proprietary information.

Eventually, the search spiders should find your site. However, this can literally take months. One way you can help spiders do their work when they reach your site is to use "meta tags" for your site title, keywords, and description. Meta tags are HTML code inserted near the top of a web page. The code itself is very simple and is written like this for the title: <TITLE>Insert your title here</TITLE>. The meta tag code for keywords is:<META NAME=  "keywords" CONTENT= "list your keywords separated by commas">. The meta tag code for description is: <META NAME= "description" CONTENT= "write your description here.">. Be aware that meta tags are not a panacea, because not all search engines use them.

Yahoo is an example of a hand-indexed search engine. Because it is selective, Yahoo is a site favored by many as the premier site on which to be listed.  Sites must be submitted to Yahoo for consideration to add to its database. To submit a site to Yahoo or one of the other search engines, go to the home page of the search engine site and scroll down to the bottom where you will find a link that says something similar to "Add URL" or "Add Site" or "Submit Site." You will find that some sites offer free submission, some charge a fee, and some offer both free and fee submission options.

Manually submitting your site to the top 10 or top 25 search engines is time consuming. Moreover, because there are literally thousands of search engines (a recent visit to www.searchengineguide.com listed 3675 search engines), services are available that will submit your site to the major search engines and to many other search engines as well. Two of these services are www.selfpromotion.com and www.ineedhits.com. Selfpromotion.com describes itself as a "share" site. That is, selfpromotion.com submits your site to a selection of search engines for free, and if you like the results, you are encouraged to send in a donation. The site also offers a wealth of useful information about search engines. Ineedhits.com will help you submit your site for free to 27 search engines. Until March 31, for a payment of $2.50, you can submit your site to 300 search engines. (After March 31, the price is $9.95) This site also offers various other plans to help you promote your web site.

Whether you submit your site yourself or get someone else to do it, you need to think carefully about your title, keywords, and description. One very useful free site is www.keywordcount.com, where you can compare your site's keywords and description with the keywords and description of your major competitor (or any other site.). Also, be sure to visit searchengineguide.com, which was mentioned above. Searchengineguide.com regularly updates and posts the top 500 keywords being used in searches.

Another useful site is www.websmostlinked.com. Here you can see the most popular sites on the web ranked by how often users click onto these sites.

Lastly, www.searchenginewatch.com is perhaps the most comprehensive source of information on search engines. In addition to offering current news about search engines, this site features an annotated list of 23 major search engines. For each engine, it provides a history of the engine and an overview of the engine.

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The Greg Gore Web Site on Computers and the Internet (www.GregGore.com)

This column was published in the Daily Local News, West Chester, PA on March 28, 2001. Greg Gore can be reached at gg@GregGore.com.

2009 by Greg Gore. All rights reserved.