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 www.holtww.com/promotion.html GETTING LISTED HIGH IN THE SEARCH ENGINES 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. Thats 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 return? 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 isnt 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 dont like your website, you lose your money and dont get listed. But they arent 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. HOW THE SEARCH ENGINES WORK 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? Thats a good question and one that the search engine sites wont 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 its no wonder most companies hire a professional submission service to help them. 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 dont think you are trying to spam them with too many key words, or you wont get listed at all. Some spiders look for header tags (H1, H2, etc) at the top of a web page. If they arent 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. CONTENT 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 imagination. 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. DOORWAY PAGES Obviously, you cant set up your website pages to suit all search engines. In fact, your current pages probably dont 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 dont know the rules it can make playing almost impossible. And thats how your website can get lost in the crowd.