[thelist] Search engine help

Lisa Frost lisa at koolfish.com
Fri Jun 8 23:33:43 CDT 2001

I didn't write this but I belong to a group called netpreneurs who meet
every month in Bangkok. Anyone on this list in Bangkok who may be interested
in joining us email me off list. Anyway the guy who organises the group sent
me this a few days ago, maybe it will help you a little.

One of my clients asked me the other day why we only give 1 hour of free
data update service in our website maintenance contract. So I wrote the
following article to explain what a search engine service really
entails. The article will be submitted for publication to the Post
Database, but I thought you might like to read it now. Some of you
receiving this email are not currently using our submission service, but
you might like to consider it after reading the article. I hope so. You
can find out more about our services on our website at

By Marc Holt

You will often see a ‘visit counter’ on many websites. Unfortunately,
most of them show abysmal numbers of visitors. One site I visited
recently showed just 1,800 visitors since 1998. That’s not many, is it?

A lot of these websites are usually just an online brochure. They
contain no interesting content, so how do they expect visitors to

And this is what the search engines think too. The only way you will
find these websites is to search for their domain name. If you search
for a key word associated with their business, they will be listed so
far down that it would take you half a day of viewing results pages
before finding them.

There are so many millions of websites online these days that any
company wanting to get noticed on the internet needs professional help
to get listed high. Gone are the days when you could just sit down,
visit a search engine and click on ‘Add Site’ to get accepted
immediately and listed within the top 20.

Traditionally, search engine registration has been free. It was a simple
matter to register your website and see it listed at or near the top of
the SE results. But over the last 12 months this has changed. These
days, a number of the top search engines demand a fee just to consider
your website quickly. There isn’t even a guarantee they will list your
site, despite paying a fee.

Even directories like Yahoo.com are getting into the act. They now
charge any business website $US199 to submit a website for
consideration. If they don’t like your website, you lose your money and
don’t get listed. But they aren’t as tough as that statement sounds.
Each website is reviewed by a human being and they will write back to
you with suggestions to improve your website to comply with their
listing rules. As long as you make the changes within 30 days, they will
accept your submission for consideration again.


Search engines send out a ‘spider’ to look at your website when you
register. They also send the spider out after your site is listed
whenever it senses changes in your page content.

The spider is actually a program with built-in instructions on what to
look for. If it finds the right conditions in your website it will then
add it to the database in the position it calculates your site deserves.

What do the spiders look for? That’s a good question and one that the
search engine sites won’t answer. You have to figure it out and hope you
get it right. Because each spider uses a different algorithm (set of
program instructions), your website pages need to be optimized to suit
different search engines. If you are not a professional, you could spend
weeks experimenting and still not get it right. Add to this the fact
that it can take weeks, or even months, to get listed at all and it’s no
wonder most companies hire a professional submission service to help

There are some things most spiders will look for, however. You need to
have the META tags at the top of your web page set up correctly. But not
all spiders look for them.

Have you got 200 key words listed in your META tags? Too many. Each
search engine sets the number of key words it looks for. Most look for
no more than 150 characters.

Your description should also contain as many key words as possible
without losing readability.

You need to repeat the same key words as many times as possible in the
text. The more times you repeat them, the higher your website will get
ranked. But again, not all search engines use this criteria. And you
have to be careful that the search engines don’t think you are trying to
‘spam’ them with too many key words, or you won’t get listed at all.

Some spiders look for header tags (H1, H2, etc) at the top of a web
page. If they aren’t there, your site gets penalized. Or they may weigh
up how many other sites you are linked to. Other spiders look for a
combination of some or all of these factors.

The names you give your pages is important too. Using key words in the
page name can help you get a higher ranking.

In an effort to squeeze as many key words into a page as possible, some
unscrupulous people tried changing the text color to the same color as
the background and reducing the text to the smallest possible size. The
search engines soon caught onto this little trick. If you try this you
will be penalized and in all probability your website will not be listed
at all.

Most importantly, you should change your page content as often as
possible. Every time you upload a revised page, that little spider will
come scuttling over to take a look and then decide where to list you.


Interesting content is what draws visitors back to your website: Not
pretty pictures. The more content you have, and the more often you add
new content, the more people will want to return. And this is what the
search engines like too.

How could a company that sells football kit shirts online add more
content? They could have pages with lots of information about the major
football teams: Information about the players, club history, and so on,
will entice visitors to return. They could have a ticker running across
the page showing the latest game scores and league rankings. They could
even add a chat room or bulletin board so that visitors can interact
with the site and with each other. There really is no limit, except your

Many search engines also count the number of pages in a website. The
more pages you have, the higher you get ranked. So it pays to have lots
of content pages.


Obviously, you can’t set up your website pages to suit all search
engines. In fact, your current pages probably don’t satisfy all the
requirements of more than 2 or 3 search engines. So, what can you do?

This is where the professional search engine registration companies
really earn their money. They make special ‘doorway’ pages. Each of
these pages is optimized for a particular search engine using specific
key words. After the pages are uploaded to your server they visit each
search engine and register the appropriate page. A professional search
engine registration company will not only create these doorway pages for
you, they will change them at least once a month, or make new ones for
you as needed.

Obviously, getting ranked high in the SE results is a game. If you don’t
know the rules it can make playing almost impossible. And that’s how
your website can get lost in the crowd.

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