Understand Search Engines

Barring some miracle, you are waiting for your website to be listed in Yahoo and ODP directories.  You, surely, can submit to the major search engines in the mean time. Once included in the directories, you should be receiving traffic to your website. However, to increase viewers to your site, you should next submit to search engines.

Once your website is listed in directories, the crawlers and the bots will almost certainly pick up your URL (Uniform Resource Locator) that was listed. This means you may not need to do additional work to get listed with crawlers.

A search engine uses a program (or "spider") that crawls (hence the name crawler) through all the pages it comes across. All the words on all those pages are analyzed and stored.

When a searcher queries the search engine, the search engine applies an algorithm to determine relevancy, searches its databases, and returns a list of those documents in which the words are found. Excite and Lycos are search engines.

Crawler-based search engines automatically visit Web pages to compile their listings. This means that, unlike directories, you are likely to have several, if not many, pages listed with them. This also means that by taking care in how you build your pages, you might rank well in crawler-produced results.

Thus, the actual words on your site -- text, title, and meta tags -- are important for getting a high ranking. If you so much as add a sentence to your site, the change will affect its search engine ranking upon re-spidering or re-indexing.

Some terms and concepts that you may or may not have heard or known about are described here.

1. Search engine optimization (SEO) - Improving Your Odds refers to altering your website so that it may rank well with particular search keywords.

2. Search engine submission (SES) refers to the act of getting your website listed with search engines. Another term for this is Search Engine Registration. Getting listed does not mean that you will necessarily rank well for particular terms. However. it simply means that the search engine knows your pages exist.

3. Search engine positioning, Search engine placement and search engine ranking refer to a site actually doing well for particular search terms. This is generally called Page Ranking. This is the ultimate goal for many people -- to get that "top ten" ranking for a particular keyword or search terms.

Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live Search (formerly MSN Search), AOL are the more frequently used search engines, sometimes called crawlers, the "mainstream" of the gang of hundreds.
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Search Clouds
If you're looking for an extra boost, you may like to consider search clouds - An on-page factor that is often overlooked by many people. You probably have seen it on some websites but always wondered what they were.

A search cloud is a large list of words that appears on your website, often on the side. Each word is a link, and they are all different sizes. Each word is something that someone searched for when they came to your website. If a lot of people search for a certain word, then that word will appear bigger in the cloud.

One of the best benefits of a search cloud is that it gives you more internal links to the pages that are important on your site. And it uses the right anchor text, because it uses the anchor text that people are already searching for. This will help with search engine rankings, because it adds more links to your pages, with the correct anchor text.

Another great benefit is that they encourage people to explore your site. When people see a search cloud, they cannot help but glance through the list. Because of the wide variety of search terms, it is quite likely they will find something that interests them, and click the link. This means you will have lower bounce rates, as well as higher average page views per visitor. This will correspond to more page views which will lead to more people buying your products, or making more money from your advertising.

How Search Engines Rank Website Pages
Search for anything using Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL or your favorite search engine. Nearly instantly, the search engine will sort through the millions of pages it knows about and present you with ones that match your topic. The matches will even be ranked, so that the most relevant ones come first.

However, sometimes non-relevant pages make it through, so you dig more deeply. Search engines don't have the ability to ask questions to focus your search.

So, how do search engines go about determining relevancy among the hundreds of millions of web pages to sort through? They follow a set of rules, known as an algorithm. Exactly how a particular search engine's algorithm works is a closely-kept trade secret. However, all major search engines follow the general rules below.

Like real-estate, the most important rule for you to consider is location, location, location of your keywords and phrases and the frequency at which they occur on your website pages. Pages with the search terms appearing in the HTML title tag are often assumed to be more relevant than others to the topic.

Search engines will also check to see if the search keywords appear near the top of a web page, such as in the headline or in the first few paragraphs of text. They assume that any page relevant to the topic will mention those words right from the beginning. Just don't overdo. Some search engines would penalize you for over using keywords.

All the major search engines follow this technique to some degree. However, each search engine is different. They would add some kind of unique spice to their technique.

Some search engines index more web pages than others and more frequently. The result is that no search engine has the exact same collection of web pages to search through. That naturally produces differences, when comparing their results.