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Search engines are large databases on the Web that a user can access and make a query.

Every search engine uses the same processes for harvesting their resources through automated robots known as “spiders.” Although each search engine sets different parameters for the “bot,” as it combs the Internet.

These differences are based on mathematical equations known as algorithms, which affect how sites are indexed and ranked. As a result, search engines are able, in most cases, to provide the user with the most relevant information because “bots” are continually adding and updating their databases. For example, when you do a search on Excite, it will show a percentage to the left on your search result displaying the relevancy compared to the query you made, starting with highest.

Directories are different than search engines because they are a compiled lists of categories. Also, directories use people to edit the submission of people attempting to list their sites, unlike the automated process that search engines use.

Directories - Search Engines

· Yahoo
· Google

· AOL
· Hotbot

· LookSmart
· Lycos

· NBCi
· DirectHit

Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is a synonym for search engine positioning and placement.

A highly ranking search result position in searches engines and directories is a powerful way to generate large amounts of traffic to your web site. It’s important to note that statistics show 8 out of 10 people surfing the web use search engines to navigate their search.

Eleven Key Steps on How to Achieve High-Ranking Search Positions

Step One: It is imperative that your site has great content. Take time to make the copy informative, spelled correctly, and concentrate on the keyword prominence, density, proximity, and frequency throughout your text.

Step Two: The design of your site so must be fast, friendly, clean and easy to navigate.

Step Three: Many search engines place strong attention to the keywords in HTML titles. Develop titles that are specific. For example, don’t name a site “Joe’s Automotive Web Page.” Instead, target your audience. A better example of a proper title is “An Automotive Resource for Parts and Services.”

Here is an example of an HTML Title format:

<Title>Your title here</Title>

Step Four: Meta tags provide you a way to describe you site’s content. Search engines look at these descriptions and analyze them according to their algorithm. It is important to use your keywords wisely. Many search engines base their ranking position on them.

Here is an example of a meta tag format:

<html>

<head>

<meta name="description" content="Your site's summary here">

</head>

</html>

The meta tag description should contain multiple keywords that flow in a logical and well organized sentence. To achieve the best rankings, place the keywords at the beginning of your description and keep them close together.

The length of the meta description will vary according the search engines and directories. Go/Infoseek, for example, accepts a meta description tag up to 1,024 characters long, while Hotbot specifies 150 characters as its guideline. In general, it’s better to keep the characters under 250; otherwise they might be cut off in the search results.

Step Five: One of the best ways to optimize your site position in search results is to analyze your competition. This will provide you the information you need to help utilize the right concepts and skip the bad ones. Keep a log of which sites do well on different search engines so you can cater your message to fit their algorithms.

Step Six: If your web site uses a lot of content in the form of images, it may look well to the eye but not score well in high search result placement. You can overcome this problem with ALT tags. They are basically image descriptions. It is important to note that not all search engines are able to read ALT tags. However, you will not be penalized for using them.

Example: <image.gif alt="your comment here">

Step Seven: Consider using a pay-per-click search engine to help you achieve high search placement. These search engines allow people to bid on keywords, the highest bidder gets the highest ranking. Experts say that GoTo.com is the most popular of all the pay-per-clicks sites.

Here are some others:

7Search.com
Kanoodle.com
Findwhat.com
OneSearch.com
Rocketlinks.com

Although it costs money to use a pay-per-click web site, there are some great advantages.

First of all, you will save time. After your site has been approved (1-5 business days) it will appear immediately. Secondly, your target audience will see you because your site will be listed in the most relevant keyword position. Thirdly, you will be a step ahead of your competition because they can’t bump you off of your placement.

Step Eight: Measure your site’s “link popularity,” meaning how many links you have on your site. Not only is this important because of the traffic you receive on the outside it also helps you when search engines send “spiders” to crawl through your site. According to experts, many search engines give higher consideration to sites in search result placement when a site has numerous amounts of links.

Step Nine: The “theme concept” means that a common topic is endured throughout the site. Themes have become the latest trend in helping businesses attain high search positions. In order to help users attain the most relevant information possible, search engines have been programmed to extract the theme in sites. As a result of this technology, search results will be more focused toward the user’s query.

Although theme technology may seem complicated, it is actually easy for you to create. In order for you to capitalize on this, you need to use the same keywords in your title, meta tags, text, and links.

Step Ten: Be careful how you use frames. Frames were developed with the intention of making it easier for people to navigate through a web site by keeping a part of the site constant. However, frames have proven to cause problems for users and web masters.

Frames cause problems in:

  • Printing
  • Search engine indexing
  • Many browsers don’t support frames
  • Bookmarking

If frames are a necessity, you can’t afford to limit yourself -- especially when it relates to search engines indexing your site. To overcome problems, use the following tag:

<noframes> Primary information about your site and links to frame-free

pages</noframes>

Links:

www.searchenginewatch.com
www.did-it.com
www.bruceclay.com
www.positionagent.com
www.webtaxi.com
www.overture.com

Advantages and Disadvantages of Search Engine Optimization

The upside of search engine optimization is that it is free and there is never-ending information about it. Also, you will get good results, especially if you personally submit your web site rather than paying a third party to do if for you.

The downside is that it is very time consuming and some search engines and directories take months to list a site that you submit. Also, there are no guarantees in getting or holding top placement on search results.

The challenges of SEO

The greatest challenge about search engine optimization is that getting there is not necessarily staying there. How many of you have researched and achieved high results on search requests -- then, before you knew it, your web site seemed like it entered a black hole? To make matters worse, try calling Yahoo or Excite to find out why and how this happened and you will feel like you’re trying to contact a faceless office building. Truthfully, they don’t care who you are, because you are one the millions of people trying to corner your own market. Plus, they would rather have you pay for a keyword search.

If you don’t think you can afford the time to reevaluate your web site submission strategies, face the truth: You can’t afford not do it. It is the best value for your time and money.

Some final hints: Follow the keys steps listed above, study and analyze the web sites that have top ranking positions. Secondly, be prepared to analyze the data and the people visiting your site and turn them into profits or viable and legitimate leads. Lastly, do not be in a haste to plaster your domain name all over the net through third party submission forms. The only thing that will accomplish is wasted time and money. Even worse, the search engines probably won’t list them because the data is not catered and targeted to what it really wants. Furthermore, in most cases search engines only except one submission. Why risk shooting a shotgun when you can take more time and shoot with a rifle? Your success is dependent on being smart and utilizing the knowledge that is available to you.

In summary, the best way you can utilize your time as a web marketer in the battle for search engine placement is to focus on your audience. Redefine your title tags, target your metatags, and provide current and up to date content on your home page.

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