Search Engine Information

The term Search Engine is often loosely applied to describe both artificial (spider- or crawler-based) Search Engines and Internet Directories that are created with human intervention. Directories are not true ‘search engines,’ but they accomplish the same thing. However, the user really doesn't care how they achieve the results as long as the results are the desired ones sought. Both Search Engines and Directories set out to accomplish the same goal, albeit work differently.

Here are Some Basic Search Engine Info...


True Search Engines, such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, Bing, Ask, AOL, and HotBot (among others) use spidering or crawling technology to automatically create their listings and ranking of your website. They crawl or spider the web, looking for keywords that users enter into their search.

As you change your web page(s) and add new content, Search Engines will eventually find those changes. This can affect your ranking. Page titles and actual content become increasingly important.

The spider visits and reads the web page, and then follows links to other pages within the site. After which the spider returns to the site according to Search Engines settings and looks for changes. The spidered information must then go to what is known as the ‘index’ or ‘catalog.’

Search Engine software (and their algorithms) is the final, crucial part. This is how the program(s) searches through content in the Index to find, match, and rank users' search criteria.

The meta tag in HTML is not required when you're creating your web page(s); many pages don't use tags at all. Briefly, the meta tag is used by some search engines to allow them to more accurately list your site in their indexes.

If you simply produce your home page and register the URL with a Search Engine, or a number of Search Engines, their spider programs will (eventually) find their way to your site to index it. However, each of the Search Engines do this slightly differently. For example, AltaVista will grab everything in your document and index it, but will only show the first 250 characters in its description. Consequently, if your site included say, 'Thanks to:....' right at the beginning, this is what AltaVista would show in its description, and it wouldn't give the viewer any idea of what your site actually covered. Of course, not all Search Engines work this way; I'd suggest you ferret around a little bit to see exactly how the popular engines work, and certainly the major two or three such as AltaVista, Lycos, Yahoo, Infoseek and Excite. It therefore makes sense to ensure that your opening paragraph is carefully written to ensure it accurately reflects what your site covers.

However, you may be able to exert a certain amount of control over how your site is indexed by the use of the meta tag. (I should however point out that not all Search Engines will use this tag - AltaVista does, but Excite doesn't, for example. Its not a total cure-all therefore, but you won't miss out by putting the tag in, and it may well work well in some cases.

Meta tags are used to define meta data. Meta data is information about a document.

There are no hard defined rules about what information a Search Engine, spider or crawler pulls from your site, but many Search Engines do make use of primary meta tags: “page titles,” "description," and "keywords."

These meta tags allow you to describe your site’s content and function to increase the chance of Search Engines finding your site.

For the most part, the first few words get the most attention. We have seen many sites with meta keywords that go on line after line after line. The only thing this will do is possibly get your site banned for spamming. Take the time to pick a few important keywords for each page and be as specific as possible, e.g., if you are selling widgets, list ‘widgets,’ – not ‘blue widgets,’ ‘red widgets,’ ‘yellow widgets,’ ‘purple widgets,’ etc. Also list things that don't apply like ‘buy’" ‘sell,’ ‘shop,’ and other things that are just too generic. Good, detailed content is your best bet to getting to the top of the Search Engines. Provide what the user is looking for – information!

Meta tags can be a useful tool in some, but not all Search Engines. The inclusion of meta tags is not a cure-all to get your site to the top listing or even the first page of Search Engines.

Meta tags cannot help make up for the lack of content on your pages. The best strategy is to have good content, descriptive pages, good titles and text that is not hidden or buried on the bottom of the page.

Adding meta description and meta keyword tags to your web pages are essential for any Search Engine. Some Search Engines will give you a boost if you have them. But don’t expect that to necessarily be enough to put you in the top ten.

Link popularity is the single most influential factor for determining how well a website will perform in Search Engine rankings. A website's link popularity is computed from the number, and more importantly, the quality of links pointing to a website.

Link Popularity History

To gain a better understanding of link popularity, it is useful to know why it became so crucial for Search Engine rankings. In the past, a web page's ranking was determined, amongst other factors, by the number of keyword occurrences within 'on-page' elements, i.e., in-page text, META tags, title tag.

When web developers learned that they could trick a Search Engine to return their web pages by cramming keywords into their pages, the Search Engines had to get a bit smarter. They were using 'on-page' elements to determine relevance so it was only natural that they would look to elements out of direct control of the web page creator, i.e., ‘off-page’ elements. Search Engines made the assumption that the greater the number of links from other sites pointing to a website, the more popular the website is and therefore a more quality resource. This worked nicely in theory but in practice it was also abused.

Website owners figured out many ways to get links pointing to their websites; one example of which was through the use of link farms – pages that contained nothing more than a collection of links – quantity of links was being abused, so the Search Engines made use of the old saying 'quality not quantity' and began to assign a quality factor to each of the links pointing to a website. Now websites that had a higher number of high-quality links were looked upon favorably by the Search Engines. Building link popularity became a science in itself and today is still the most time-consuming and frustrating activity for a Search Engine optimizer.

Main Classes of Links

In the following examples, Site A is our website and Site B is an outside site, that is a website under a different domain name than Site A

Inbound Links

Inbound links to a website are links that originate from an outside website. An example would be a link on Site B pointing to a page on Site A

Outbound Links

Outbound links from a website are links pointing to a page outside of its own website. An example would be a link on Site A pointing out to a page on Site B

Reciprocal Links

An example of a reciprocal link is when Site A links to Site B AND Site B links to Site A, the link is reciprocated by both parties.

To achieve a high link popularity, the type of links to build are inbound one-way links. This simulates how natural links are created, i.e., links that people create to point to your site because they found it worth linking to.

For outbound links, it is natural to assume that they might decrease link popularity of a website but this is not true. You do not give away your link popularity when you link to another site. However, they do not necessarily add to your link popularity.

Reciprocal links can add to your link popularity if the website that you exchange links with has a higher link popularity than your site. However they are not as powerful as inbound, one-way links as they are quite artificial in nature, i.e., most probably created by communication between the owners of both sites.

How to Build Link Popularity

So it is obvious to help build link popularity many inbound, one-way links need to be created. This can be achieved in a number of different (and most importantly, legal) ways.

Directories

Directories are categorized listings of links from around the web. Many directories exist and vary in their methods of getting your link posted on them. They provide a great source of quality inbound, one-way links. Getting listed in quality directories such as DMOZ or Yahoo can be more beneficial for your link popularity than a lot of links from smaller, newer directories.

Great Site Content

The most powerful way to get inbound, one-way links is to have great site content that other websites will want to link to. This allows you to get links from sites other than directories, which can definitely be better. The best thing about this is that it requires no communication on your part, it just happens naturally. If your site has poor content, other sites may not want to link, including the directories! Most of the top ranking websites today got to the top because of great content. Writing interesting and informative articles for your website is a good way of getting these kind of links.

Emailing Website Owners

If you come across a listing of links on a website other than a directory, e.g., a link page on a somebody's personal website, it can do no harm to write the website owner a polite email requesting a link to your site from their page. They may request a reciprocal link but sometimes they do not and you can get a quality inbound, one-way link for your efforts. In personalized emails of complimentary remarks about their site, always ask them to visit your site first before making a decision to link to it.

Summary

The best and most effective way of increasing your Search Engine rankings is working to improve your website's link popularity. This can be achieved by getting as many inbound, one-way links as you can from quality sites such as directories. Another way to get these links is by having great content on your site and requesting a link to your site from other websites.

Increasing link popularity is a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating process but is definitely worth the time and effort when you see a dramatic increase in traffic.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art and science of initiating and promoting your website to ensure the highest possible rankings on the major search engines including Google®, Yahoo!®, MSN®, and Bing®.

Graphic Studio employs various SEO coding, link strategies and other advanced techniques to insure your website appears in the first few positions of the results when people search for specific keyword phrases entered in the major Search Engines.

Over 80% of all Internet searches are ‘organic,’ and not related to ‘sponsored’ or pay-per-click (PPC) links.

When people look for information on the Internet, most head straight for the Search Engines to find it. Your website could be competing with literally millions of other sites to pull in visitors. It’s crucial to optimize your site through SEO, initially and on an ongoing basis, for best position, visibility and traffic. Your position is directly related to your commitment to a complete and continuous optimization process.

Graphic Studio’s experts, having logged thousands of hours since 1997, knows how system works! Our advanced Search Engine optimization (SEO) skills generate new business for our clients daily and at a fraction of the price of traditional advertising... and we can prove it!

  1. Performs Keyword Phrase Research
  2. Uses 250-Word Count (minimum) per Page
  3. 100kB (maximum) HTML Size
  4. Use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) for Page Layout
  5. Meaningful Page Titles
  6. Use of Proper Headings and Sub-headings
  7. A Meaningful Beginning Paragraph to Describe Page's Content
  8. Use of Descriptive Hyperlink Text
  9. Employs Quality Content – and lots of it!
  10. Avoids Pages with Frames, JavaScript* and Flash*

* when used exclusively

Graphic Studio utilizes the brightest and most accomplished Search Engine optimization tools we can find. As we build your website, we spend hours:

  • Optimizing code on your website
  • Writing SEO-specific text
  • Helping you create two-way links to make your website more relevant
  • Manually submit your site, on a regular basis, to all types of open source directories, assuring they’ll recognize your site

Many SEO companies will promise you the world – we achieve results and can prove it! Ask us for a listing of current clients enjoying first-page ranking in Google®. Find out how easy it can be – see From Start to Finish.

  • AOL Search – The external version gets its listings from the Open Directory, Inktomi and spider results as backup to the directory information. Members are allowed to search AOL content as well.
  • Ask – A human-powered search service that tries to answer exact questions from the user and direct them to the proper page(s).
  • Bing – (formerly formerly Live Search, Windows Live Search, MSN Search)
  • This service is powered by LookSmart's directory of websites and gets its secondary results from Inktomi. Some sites are also pulled from RealNames and Direct Hit.
  • Infospace, Dogpile, Zoo, WebCrawler – Metasearch technology delivers end users the most relevant results on the Web by searching more than 12 of the top Search Engines, including Google, Yahoo!, Ask, Windows Live Search, and more.
  • Excite – Uses spidering technology for it's web page index and gives access to directory results from LookSmart.
  • Google – Link popularity is the key to Google. Google uses its own massive index and also provides results from Yahoo and Netscape.
  • HotBot – With many advanced searching features, HotBot is popular with researchers. First page of results usually come from Direct Hit and Inktomi. It's directory information comes from the Open Directory project.
  • Netscape Search – Netscape Search's web page matches come mainly from it's own index, the Open Directory and also gets some results from Google.
  • Yahoo – The oldest major website Directory on the Internet and it is the second most popular search, next to Google. It has the largest human-compiled index of the web with over 1 million sites listed. If a search fails to find a match within it's own listings, it supplements its results with those from Google. Google matches are also shown after all Yahoo matches.

Internet Directories, such as Yahoo!, depend on human intervention for its listings. You are usually asked to select the proper category for your site (can be difficult and time-consuming) and then submit a short description of your site. Sometimes it is left up to the editor of that particular category to describe your site.

These Directories often require payment in order to review your site within 1-2 weeks. Some require payment in order to be reviewed at all. Still others offer free reviews but with no time guarantee. It can take as long as 3 months to get listed in these Directories – if you get listed at all! Keep in mind that even if you pay to have your site reviewed, that does not guarantee that they will actually list your site.

Things that help improve your ranking on a true Search Engine are not necessarily the things that will improve your ranking on a Directory. Here is where good content, fast-loading, user- and browser-friendly pages, properly optimized come in. You must remember that a human being is reviewing your site – and thousands of others.

  • Spiders Web Pages Submitted or Not – Google
  • Does Not Follow Frame Links – Excite Does Not Follow Image Maps – ExciteGoogle
  • Does Not Support Robots Meta Tags – Excite
  • Link Popularity Helps Ranking – All
  • Allows Paid Inclusion or Pay-per-Click – GoogleMSNYahoo
  • Indexes Full Body Text – All
  • Does Not Support Meta Tag Description – Google
  • Does Not Support Meta Tag Keywords – ExciteGoogle
  • Does Not Support Alt Text – Excite
  • Direct Hits Assist Rankings – HotBot
  • Penalizes Site with Invisible Text as Spamming – GoogleExcite
  • Penalizes Site with Tiny Text as Spamming – Google

NOTE: Inktomi results form portions of AOL Search, HotBot & MSN

Using Both Technologies – With the vast number of websites being added to the Internet daily, some Directories have combined spidering technology. They usually organize them in a way that presents the Directory listings first and then presents the spidered results.

It's the online equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising. And just like its offline cousin, it's the most effective way to get new business.

This advertising mode is known as "link-building" and it involves getting other websites to link to your site. It's like one of your neighbors recommending a good plumber or handyman; it carries more weight than if a person just stumbled across your website.

In today's world, there is much more to good Search Engine listings than simply optimizing your site for keywords.

In order to keep searchers happy, Search Engines are always developing ways to make their results more relevant. In the last couple of years, links have become increasingly more important to the engines because they see links as an endorsement of your site by other websites. Think about it: would you link to a site you didn't like?

This concept is referred to as "link popularity." Based on the links pointing to your site, the Search Engines either increase or decrease how relevant your site is for particular keyword searches.

Are You Driving the Right Traffic to Your Website?

Monitor the effectiveness of your site. Track and analyze your site's traffic to make improvements where necessary. Obviously, you want to increase your site's relevancy. The goal to make sure you build the right kind of links for your site in order to improve your Search Engine results. The best way to build links is still doing it by hand. Here are some steps you should follow when building links:

1. Set a goal. Link-building takes a lot of time, but it is very effective and easy to do, so you want to keep at it. Set a goal for the number of links you want as a way to stay motivated through the process.

Depending on the sites you ask and your approach, your results will vary. A general rule of thumb is to set your goal at 4 to 6 times higher than the number of links you actually want to receive. You need to set your goal higher because most sites will not want to trade links, for various reasons.

2. Make sure your site is worth a link. This means your site should offer something of value to entice other sites to link to yours.

If all your site does is sell products or services, you need to get busy creating some additional linkable content. Examples might include how-to articles, product reviews, tools, tips and so on. Creating content can be tough, but if you don't have some on your site already, you've got to do it. Adding linkable content not only will encourage others to link to your site, but it will improve the overall quality for your visitors.

Make it easy on yourself by writing about something you know that relates to your site. This column is a perfect example. It teaches without trying to sell something. The best part of creating linkable content is that if you do it well enough, you will find that people will link to your site without you even asking, and that's the easiest way to build links.

If you're not a writer, you can always add free tools or free downloads. Also, consider creating a links page prior to requesting a link trade with a site. You can usually expect a better reception from a potential link partner if they can see where you will place the link to their site.

3. Determine the type of sites with which you want to trade links. This takes some thought. You need to figure out all of the different types of sites that could potentially trade links with you. Focus on sites that are related to your target market.

Here's a good example: for a site that sells sunglasses, you may want to approached sites that sell swimsuits or tanning lotions, but not sunglasses. Once links are accumulated, developed a section of your site on eye protection and asked for links from all of the sites you can find that address eye protection. In the end, you will significantly increased the number of links to your site from other sites in the target market. Plus, you could add about ten additional pages of content to your site that visitors enjoy and continue to link. This helps significantly in Search Engine placement.

4. Get equipped to evaluate your link partners. To make the most of your efforts, you don't want to spend too much time going after links from sites that the Search Engines don't think are valuable. While it isn't perfect, the Google Toolbar can help you decide which sites are quality link partners and which are not. The toolbar integrates with your Web browser. It helps you by displaying the "page rank" of each site you visit. Simply put, page rank is a rough indicator of what Google thinks of a site. You can rest assured that if Google thinks it is a good site, it probably is. The higher a page ranks the better. One strategy is to try to link up with sites that have pages ranked as high as or higher than your own.

5. Locate quality link partners. There are many ways to find link partners, but the easiest way to find quality link partners quickly is to start at Open Directory and Yahoo, they are good places to start for these reasons:

  • These directories are both so difficult to get listed in that each potential link partner you find there is likely to be of a higher quality than those you would find elsewhere.
  • Yahoo and Open Directory greatly boost a site's link popularity when they list a site. Your site will receive a little bit of that boost each time someone from one of those directories links to you.
  • The links you build don't help your link popularity in the Search Engines unless the engines know about the link. Search engines crawl the sites listed in Yahoo and Open Directory on a regular basis, so by starting your linking campaign there, you can be sure Search Engines will find you new links quickly. To find partners, simply start searching for terms that are related to the types of link partners you decided are best.
  • While surfing your potential partner's website, keep your eye on their page ranking.

6. Organize your findings. There are many ways to do this but it's always a good idea to keep it simple. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of the following:

  • Full name of site owner or Webmaster.
  • Email address of the site owner or Webmaster.
  • Home page URL of link partner.
  • URL of the page where you think your link belongs and why you think it belongs there.
  • Page ranking of the page where you think your link belongs.
  • Something unique that you liked about the site.
  • Date of initial link request.

For many sites, much of this information will not be available, but you should try to find as much of it as possible.

7. Prepare for contact. Now that you have a list of potential link partners, go through the list and send a custom email to each one requesting that you trade links. Do not send a generic email requesting a link; it will not get a response. Your link request should mention the following, most of which comes from your spreadsheet:

  • Something you liked about their site; compliments go a long way.
  • Why you think your link belongs on their site.
  • The URL to exactly where you think your link fits on their site.
  • The URL of where you'll be placing their link on your site.
  • How you would like them to link to you. Provide a sample link and description. The easier you make it, the more likely they will post it.

8. Check for links. When building links, you are dealing with real people, so it can take some time. You may need to wait a month or more before checking to see if anyone has linked to your site from your new partner. Usually it is best to do this step by hand, but you can use a link popularity tool if you have a lot to check.

9. Follow up with the cream of the crop. Once a month has passed, follow up with each site that hasn't linked to you yet. Save time and only follow up with the cream of the crop – those in your spreadsheet with the highest page rankings.

10. Set a schedule. You will find it easier to keep building links if you put yourself on some sort of link-building schedule. Consider doing a certain small amount (30 to 60 minutes) of link-building each day. It will help prevent burnout, which is inevitable if you try to do your entire campaign in a couple of days.

– Source: Craig Fifield, formerly Product Manager, Microsoft Corp.

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