Like everything on the Internet, Search Engines have evolved. Years ago we would sit for hours and submit a site to 600 search engines one search engine at a time. At that time Search Engines were relatively new so even this rudimentary approach was effective.
In those days little was known about the technology of Search Engines. We did little to prepare the site prior to listing. We would add Meta Tags, make sure the page titles included keywords, and add some copy on the main page. Today things have changed. Major Search Engines – like Yahoo, Google, MSN, Excite – have become big business. A high listing in one of these Search Engines can mean big money. The competition to be prominently listed in a major search engine is fierce. Search Engines receive tens of thousands of requests for listings every single day.
The old tricks like repeating your keywords a hundred times or more worked for a while. Search Engines are onto these tricks. Becoming prominently listed in a major search engine today is difficult. The days of shotgun listing are gone forever. Now it requires a focused approach armed with knowledge, experience, and special software. Effective Search Engine listing is not quick or easy. This document explains what we go through to get your site prominently displayed in a major search engine.
Search Engine Optimizing the Site
The name of the game today is focus. To get prominently displayed in Google you need to make your site look great for Google. This is accomplished by conditioning your site, not only for the keyword but for the search engine as well. Google has specific things it likes to see. For example, Google may want to see between 500 and 600 words on your page, with your keyword repeated 5 to 8 times. They may want your keyword in your title twice and hyperlinked text using your keyword 4 times. They may discount for using the keyword too many times. They may add points for using keywords in alt tags or inside headings with the heading attribute.
Search Engines are highly secretive about their criteria. Search Engine programmers stay up nights thinking of ways to foil people trying to list high in their engine. We used to fool search engines by repeating keywords in the background. Major search engines are wise to these tricks and will blackball you at all if you try to use them.
The greatest success is achieved by sites that are designed specifically for one keyword (or two keyword combination). For example, if you want to list in Google under the keyword “Race Insurance” then you need to condition your site specifically for that keyword. You have to turn your site into a source of information for that keyword. The process of making a site into a source of information for a keyword is called optimizing the site. It is essential to search engine marketing.
Evaluating and Refining the Site
You may be asking, “How can you tell if my site is effective?” Mills Group Multimedia uses special software that employs a knowledge base. We run the site’s main page against the software and it tells us where we need to improve the page. We may need to add more text, repeat the keyword more, adjust the title, adjust the heading, add text links, etc. Creating an effective main page is a process of creating, evaluating and refining over and over until we have a page which looks great to the Search Engines.
Have you ever looked in a Search Engine and wondered how people get to the top? This is not luck. What happened is the sites at the top have matched their ranking criteria exactly. No one really knows what a Search Engine deems important. Search Engines look for things that are not readily apparent. Google places a premium on hyperlinked text that contains keywords in the links. If you have a main page that uses buttons (instead of text links) you are out of luck with Google. Google looks for hyperlinked text. Ever wonder why sites have text links and buttons linking to the same pages? That’s why. The buttons are for people, the text links are for search engines.
Search Engines are machines. They grind through your site and return with a rating. High ratings go to the top and low ratings go nowhere. The key is having inside knowledge of their rating system. The knowledge database we use was built by examining the sites ranked high in the search engines and then reverse engineered to what they deem important. Admittedly this is only an approximation but it is working pretty well.
Listing the Site
Most people believe Search Engines will find your site automatically. While it is true some Search Engines may seek out and catalog unsolicited sites this is the exception, not the rule. Most Search Engines require you to apply for a listing. Listing your site is a three-step process. Step one is applying for a listing. Major Search Engines receive thousands of applications every day. Applying for a listing does not put you into the engine – it merely signals the engine that you would like to be listed. Listing a site puts you in a queue waiting indexing.
It takes from 4 to 12 weeks from the time you apply to the time you actually become listed. Search Engines use indexing programs (called spiders) that run constantly. When you apply you go into a queue waiting indexing. When the search engine reaches you it sends a spider out to index your site. This is step two. The spider reads your html, runs its evaluation program, and returns with a ranking value. Step three the search engine places you in its database by rank. When somebody searches, the most relevant sites are at the top.
You may be wondering, “Does it help to apply for a listing more than once?” Search Engines are in a constant state of change. Their indexing programs are running 24 hours a day, bringing new sites into their database. Like the currents in the ocean, old sites are being flushed out as new sites are coming in. In the old days a prominent listing could be around for a year. Not anymore. You need to list your site monthly to insure you will be freshly indexed on a regular basis. Search Engine listing is not a onetime thing, to be effective you have to keep up a campaign.
Monitoring Your Progress
The ultimate goal is a prominent listing in a major Search Engine. To achieve this goal we monitor progress from month to month. We see if your site is moving up or down in the Search Engines. We gauge future effort on past results. We see the results of our activity 4 to 8 weeks later. Effective Search Engine Marketing is a process of action, monitor, adjust and action. Realistically, a ranking in the top 100 of a major search engine is a success that will bring traffic to your site. A listing on the first page of a major search engine is a triumph and will bring big traffic to the site.