Over 1 billion searches

per day are made with the

top 8 search engines

How to be found in search engines

As might be imagined, getting your website to the top of any search engines results list under any category is highly desireable and probably very difficult if you’re website is promoting something popular. But the rewards for your business could be huge if you consider the number of searches conducted by Google alone.

Below is a quick guide to improving your website's chances of being found in search engines. You should consider this advice carefully before embarking on a new site or a re-design of an established one. The ‘on the page’ optimisation method

An optimised site will show up in search engine lists naturally. When you launch a new site, as long as there is something linking to it, search engines will find it, sending out robotic programs which ‘spider’ or ‘crawl’ the site, i.e. reads and records the content in the search engines database. When a search term is typed into Google or another search engine, the search engine checks its database and list sites which match that search term. To enable a site to do this well, it has to be built using ‘on the page’ optimisation.

Note: There’s also a complex network of database and directory alliances between search engines where information is shared.

When promoting a site, one of the first things to do is keyword research, drawing up a list of search terms you think people might use to find a site like yours. Phrases are better than single words. You may want to consider which terms apply to the different pages of your site, especially if the subject matter varies across various sections of the site or pages. Use Google’s Key Word Tool or another tool like Word Tracker to see what level of traffic each search term receives, prioritise the terms with the highest level of traffic with the lowest level of competition.

List all your chosen keywords and phrases for each page of your site and work through the stages 1 to 14 here on the right.

If you need help with your website SEO or other promotion ideas, please click here contact me.

Colin Watson

The factors which help a site to be found in search engine lists are:

  1. Most important of all is readable HTML text, with fairly heavy use of the search terms, say, 3 or 4 times per page throughout the text. Concentrate on each page subject using those keywords applicable for that subject.

  2. Use a list of relevant key words or phrases as page titles, putting the most important key words or phrases first and separating them by a comma.
  3. Search engines give weight to the text in the headings tags. Text headings should contain your keywords and phrases, as h1, h2, and h3 tags.
  4. Text links - a link to another page on your site which sells or talks about say, widgets, should use HTML visible text: ‘buy widgets’ as the link or if it is a graphic, use ‘buy widgets’ in the alt tag.
  5. Name graphics, i.e. instead of calling a graphic image on the site, top banner, call it ‘buy widgets’.
  6. It has sometimes been considered effective to use the search terms to name the sub-directories in the root folder.
  7. A xml site map will make all pages accessible to the search engines.
  8. Put all other code on the page i.e. Java Script, style sheets, etc in separate directories, so the spiders get to the readable relevant text more quickly.
  9. With some search engines using key words for the url, (web site address) e.g. www.buy-your-widgets.co.uk, will work. Hyphens enable the words to be read separately.
  10. And of course put your key words in the meta tag section in the page header. Strangely enough, most current search engines seem to take little notice of mata tag key words now but it is worth writing an enticing description of the page in the header, as this will show up in some listings. Write different descriptions for each page of the site as the page subject varies.
  11. Links to your site are the other half of the ‘organic’ web site promotion story, the number of them and the quality of them.
  12. Google especially counts good quality links to your site as votes or recommendations for your site. Being linked to by other relevant sites, where visitors are being referred, because of the quality or interest of your site’s subject matter, will credit you and push your site up the rankings. On the other hand links from off subject sites, contrived to boost your link count may well do more harm than good. Buying a mass of off subject links may possibly have some positive effect but if your web site is an important part of your business, you may be risking Google considering it as spamming and demoting you in their listings.
  13. The links you really want are from official or authoritative sites, .ed, .ac or .gov, all pretty hard to get. But if you publish good quality content on the subject that your site deals with then people will want to read it and may well recommend it. Work at building links to your site, ask other site owners for them, you may be surprised.

    Social bookmarking and directories (see below) are very good for providing links to your site and are worth the effort, they will give your site a boost.

  14. But remember your web site is for human consumption not search engine ‘bots’, so make your site as interesting and popular as possible and hopefully people will want to come to it. If you can give away some valuable information or service, you may be discovered by other sites and linked to. Good quality case studies or articles may do it for you but set out to attract visitors by asking your self why would someone want to come to your site and then make sure you give it to them.
  15. Lastly: Flash sites, sites built using frames or all graphic content sites don’t work very well with search engine spiders.

Directories

Yahoo, The Open Directory (Dmoz)etc – here sites are assessed by real humans, rated, listed and ranked according to their relevance. A site should be submitted to these and as many other relevant directories as possible, this will help your site appear in other search engines.

Pay-per-click

This is a sure way of getting your site at the top of the lists or should I say the sponsored lists. These generally appear in a panel with a tinted blue background to the top and on the right of the Google page. It will appear in different ways in different search engines but nearly always as a ‘sponsored sites’. The two main paid systems to be aware of are Google Ad Words – available from their home page and Yahoo Search Marketing. Yahoo sponsored sites are listed in MSN, Lycos, Ask Jeeves.

It is worth reading up on the details of both of these systems and how they work, but basically this is the deal: You set up an account and bid for the key word(s) or phrase(s) you want to use. The cost is anything from 10p upwards, every time a visitor clicks on your site from the sponsored site section. The relevant ‘Key Word Tools’ will show the number of times a search term is used, you’ll find it surprisingly high. Google Adwords has a reputation for not being very clear on how much you are being charged, as the costs vary according to different times of the day but you can set a maximum spend per day rate.

Useful sites:
http://dmoz.org http://search.yahoo.com/info/submit.html
http://searchenginewatch.com/ - full of info on search engines and directories.
http://www.highrankings.com - good guest articles and to subscribe to their exellent news letter, go to
http://www.listcast.com/x?oid=18425d