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This section of the ActionNet covers search engine submission and the methods for getting and keeping a good position or ranking. It explains the different kinds of search engines... how they find and rank web pages... and how you should use HTML meta tags and page design to get the best results.

It should be noted... that search engine position is not a magic wand for getting traffic to your site. It is very important... but it is just one part of the website promotion you will need to assure that your site gets the number and kind of visitors needed to make it successful.

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Overview

The term "search engine" is commonly used to describe both real search engines and directories. They are two different animals.

Search engines build their listings automatically by crawling the Internet using a spider (also called a crawler). The spider visits a web page... reads it and store words on the page that are referenced when someone does a search... it then follows links to other pages in the site. This is what it means when someone refers to a site being "spidered" or "crawled." The spider returns to the site on a regular basis... every month or two... looking for changes. Some search engines look use "meta tags" that are actually in the HTML code and are not visible to the person viewing the page. A few engines ignore meta tags and pull their information directly from the page. Your page titles... body copy... and meta tags can all impact your ranking.

Directories such as Yahoo or LookSmart depend on human editors for their listings. Your submission should include a short description of your site... otherwise the editors write one after the site is reviewed. It should be noted that some directories... including Yahoo... use an outside search engine database for results in searches. For example... if your site is listed in the Inktomi database (HotBot)... your site will probably show up in a Yahoo search.

Search engine nitty-gritty...

For most true search engines your site's position in a search depends entirely on four parts of the pages... Title... Description tag... Keywords tag... and the first couple of hundred words of page text.  Here's a code example of the title and two important meta tags...

<title>A descriptive name for your site</title>

<meta name="description" content="A summary of your site including the important features">

<meta name="keywords" content="A list of words and phrases that are relevant to your site... these words and phrases must also show up in your page text">

The title...

The page title is not the heading at the top of your page... it is your HTML code title tag.  Most search engines start with your title.  It should be no longer than about 60 characters and include some keywords. Not just "John's Home Page". When a someone performs a search... many times the title is all people see about your site.  If the title doesn't clearly indicate what your site is about... the searcher may not go there... so choose your title carefully.

Some search engines and directories alphabetize their lists.  You may get an extra edge on those engines if you start your title with an "A" or "1".  For example... if the title is "Online Widgets"... you could change it to  "Authentic Online Widgets".   Use a word... not just the letter "A".  Some search engines skip a single character when searching. 

Don't use conjunctions, prepositions and articles... many search engines see words like "the", "and", "to" and "a" as stop words and just ignore them.  So they just take up space.

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Description meta tag...

Most engines use them... a few don't.  This tag should tell the story of your site.  But don't get windy... keep it about 150 characters or less. Your description is extremely important... it must be readable for the searcher... and include the important features. Don't fill it with hype such as "The best in the universe blah, blah, blah"... and don't use all caps. Plan it well... it is your primary billboard on the Internet.

Keyword Meta Tag...

There has always been an argument about if you should use commas or spaces to separate keywords. It makes absolutely no difference. Search engines see commas as spaces. If your keywords were "word,word,word"... the engine translates that to "word word word".

The keyword tag should be called "keywords and phrases". Today most people don't just search for a word... they use phrases or groups of words such as "free website business". This can be approached two ways... include phrases in your tag separated by commas... or arrange your words to form phrases.

The keywords can range from 875 to 1000 characters... depending on the search engine.  I recommend that you stay at 875 or less... that should be more than enough to get the job done on any engine.

Most engines give better placement for how many times it finds the keyword searched for... so it's okay to repeat... but don't over do it.  Some say it should be no more than 3 repetitions... some say 5... and others say 7 is okay.  I try to stay in the middle ground... because the rules change and some engines will penalize you for over using a word.

Use several forms of a word... including upper and lower case and common misspellings.

Use plurals.  If you put an "s" at the end of keywords to make them plural... you get two shots for one!  For example... it you use the keywords "free business" and someone searched with the word "businesses"... your page would not come up.  If you use the keyword "businesses" most search engines will pick up either "business" or "businesses".

Content
...

It is of utmost importance that your keywords and phrases be repeated in the actual copy of your page (first 200 words). If the search engines do not find them in your page text your relevancy rating will go down... in addition... your site could be rejected or penalized for spamming.

Graphic alternate text... w
henever you use a graphic on your site... you have the option of adding text that will show if the image isn't displayed.  In most HTML editors this is called an alternate.  Do more than just describe the graphic or picture... stick in a couple of keywords.

The HTML code is as follows:

<IMG SCR="graphic.gif" HEIGHT=40 WIDTH=100 ALT="describe the graphic and then add keywords">

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Where
To Submit Your Site

This is a list of the search engines and directories considered to be major players. Be careful... before you submit your site... read and follow the rules posted at their site exactly.

Altavista - http://www.altavista.digital.com/av/content/addurl.htm

Indexes in 48 hours to 2 weeks... even though Alta Vista says on it's web site that you can submit up to 10 urls from one domain per day... I strongly recommend you submit no more than 2 per day.

AOL NetFind - http://www.aol.com/netfind/info/addyoursite.html

Web content is maintained by the Open Directory Project (dmoz.org). To get your site listed... find the most appropriate category or subcategory within the AOL Directory and submit your site information from the Add URL link on that category page. If your site is accepted... it will also appear on other sites that use the Open Directory... such as Netscape, Lycos and Hotbot. After your site has been listed... do not resubmit.

Excite - http://www.excite.com/Info/add_url.html?a-m-m

Indexes in about 6 weeks... they say they will accept up to 25 pages from one domain... but I believe it is more like 10 or 15.  Make certain all your links work. Does not use meta tags except for the description tag and only once it can be determined that it contains a description relative to the page.

Excite also powers Webcrawler and Magellan.  But... they all seem to have minor differences on how they return results. Submit all pages to them (after submitting to Excite).  They all take about 2 - 6 weeks to index.

Magellan - http://www.mckinley.com/magellan/Info/addsite.html
Webcrawler - http://www.webcrawler.com/WebCrawler/SubmitURLS.html


Goto - http://www.goto.com/d/about/advertisers/;$sessionid$OO1VUSAAAGGWLQFIEE5APUQ

GoTo sells its main listings by keywords... you can pay money to be placed higher in the search results. Non-paid results come from Inktomi.

HotBot
- http://www.hotbot.com/addurl.html

Takes up to 60 days to get listed. The basic factors affecting a page's ranking are... the words in the title... keyword META tags... word frequency in the document... and document length. Any spamming technique (over repeating keywords) can severely penalize a page's ranking or even cause rejection..

Infoseek - http://www.infoseek.com/AddUrl?pg=DCaddurl.html

Indexes anywhere from a few minutes to two weeks. In certain cases... an e-mail submission is required. Only accepts submissions during business hours. Has been slow to index new pages recently. Will reject attempts to spam the Infoseek index.

LookSmart - http://www.looksmart.com/aboutus/partners/subsite2.html

This is another directory... much like Yahoo... and it may be the 2nd most important for the new website. The LookSmart directory is used by several of the major engines... so if you are listed well with LookSmart... you will show up when people search AltaVista and many others. Go to the appropriate category(ies) and submit.

Lycos - http://www.lycos.com/addasite.html

Indexes in 3 - 6 weeks. The spider will try to travel through links contained in the webpage you submit... counting one level down from the page you submit. Do not submit webpages with these symbols in the URL... ampersand (&), percent sign (%), equals sign (=), dollar sign ($) or question mark (?)

MSN Search- http://search.msn.com/addurl.asp?q=&RS=CHECKED&co=15

Submit only the main page to your site. All pages will be automatically indexed. Microsoft's MSN Search service is a LookSmart-powered directory with secondary results that come from AltaVista.

Northern Light - http://www.northernlight.com/docs/register.htm

Actually a directory... go to the home page and choose a category... then submit... indexes in about 6 weeks. Cannot delete URLs at the request of the user. Indexes subpages.

Open Directory (DMOZ) - http://dmoz.org/add.html

The Open Directory uses volunteer editors to catalog the web. Lycos and AOL Search use Open Directory data. It is important to choose the right category for submission. Don't use a lot of hype in your title or description.

Snap - http://www.snap.com/LMOID/resource/0,566,home-1078,00.html?st.sn.ft.0.surl

Snap now lists sites in search results immediately with its "Snap Live Directory"... the sites are then reviewed by editors for possible inclusion in the index. To submit your site, browse through the categories and fill out the submit URL form from the right subcategory. Snap is a editor-compiled directory supplemented by search results from Inktomi.

Yahoo - http://www.yahoo.com

Yahoo accounts for 50% of the searches made on the Web... it is the most important place to submit your website. It's actually a directory rather than a search engine.  This means that choosing the proper category is extremely important.  Go to their main page and select a category that you think best describes your site.  Then select a sub category and another and another each time trying to select the most appropriate category for your site.  When you get it narrowed down the best... go to the bottom of that page and hit the "suggest a site" link.

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Submission Services

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Postmaster - Posts your site to 24 different places and search engines for free. http://www.netcreations.com/postmaster/

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http://free.submit-it.com/

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