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Step 2: Submit your site to the Search Engines

What's a Search Engine?
A search engine is a crawler based website that has millions (even billions) of individual pages in its database. The pages in the database are indexed by a robot 'spider' and not a human editor. Users may visit the search engine home page to look for information on a particular topic. When people type in a particular search term the search engine queries it's huge database of pages and uses a specific algorithm to determine which pages bear the most relevance to the user's search term. Some examples of major search engines are: Google, Altavista, Excite, Lycos, and Hotbot.

Rather than give specific instructions for each search engine we will focus on general advice for optimizing your pages for ALL the search engines. Here is a list of tips that you can use to increase your website ranking:

Things you should AVOID

Don't try to put hidden text on your pages. This might have worked in 1996 but in 2001 the search engines are savvy to this type of manipulation and will ban your site or penalize you by giving you a lower ranking. And yes, they can detect if your color is almost but not quite the same color as the background of the page - eg: #FFFFFF and #FFFFFE.

Don't submit your URL multiple times during the day. Also don't submit hundreds of URLs from the same website. A much better technique is to create a site map with all your links on one page. Link to the site map from your home page so that the search engine spider can find all your pages easily.

Avoid using complicated Javascripts for your navigation. Simple HTML links are best because search engine spiders cannot follow javascript-based links. The rest of the pages on your site will not be indexed if the spider is not able to navigate to the individual pages.

Dump the splash page. Some websites place a big flashy graphic or flash animation on their index.html page. This is a total waste of space and can harm your ranking in the search engines because there is no content on the splash page. Better to have keyword-rich content on your first page because the search engine is going to give that page priority over any others on your site. Another problem with splash pages is that they are annoying to web surfers who don't have the latest plugin to view your cool flash movie. Simpler is better, especially for the home page.

Don't have any type of redirect on your home page. If you type in your home page URL (eg www.yoursite.com) and it redirects to something like this: www.yoursite.com/pages/index.php then you should fix it. Make sure the first page that the search engine sees has lots of useful, keyword-rich content on it. If all that is on your index.html page is a redirect tag then that is all the search engine will see and your ranking will suffer.

Don't use the official title of your company for your TITLE tag. The title tag is one of the most important factors that the search engines are going to use to index your pages. Don't waste this valuable space by putting only your company name here. Use this space instead to have a keyword rich headline that will attract more traffic from the search engines. If you are selling tractors - you don't want to use "Billy Bob's Company" as your title - much better to have something like this: "Tractors and Farm Equipment from Billy Bob's Company".

Things you should do to INCREASE your ranking

Include keywords in the title tag of your webpage. We already mentioned this in the 'do nots' section but it is so important that we will repeat it here. Most search engines consider the TITLE tag as the single most important piece of information on your page. Therefore you should place your best keyword phrase in the title tag. Also - use a different title for each page on your site. Take advantage of this space. If you have five pages on your site then target them for each of five different keyword phrases.

Include META tags on each one of your pages. This is one of the most often overlooked tasks of the web designer. If you don't include META tags on your pages you'll definitely hurt your rankings on many major search engines. A META tag is a short section of text in the head section of your page that gives the search engine more information to better rank your pages. There are two META tags that are especially important - the KEYWORDS tag and the DESCRIPTION tag. Here's an example of what the head section of your page should look like taken right from the page you are reading now:

<title>How to increase your website ranking in crawler-based search engines</title>
<meta name="keywords" content="altavista, excite, hotbot, lycos, webcrawler, google, website ranking, search engine promotion">
<meta name="description" content="How to increase your website ranking in the search engines">

Put a list of your best keyword phrases in the keywords tag. Try to avoid repeating keywords, even if they are individual words in different phrases. Don't make a list 300 words long - the search engines only use the first 10 or 20 keywords you place here.

The description META tag is very important because it is what the search engine will display to users who are looking for your site. When they type in a search term a long list of sites will appear and your META description is often what the search engine will show to the web surfer in the list of sites. Use this valuable space to write a compelling description that will make users want to click on your link. Don't leave this part out or you will either get NO description at all, or the search engine will randomly choose some text from your page and display that instead.

Use your keyword phrases in the text on the page, as close to the top of the page as possible. Make sure what you type is readable and useful to a human web searcher. You don't want to just have a long list of keywords on your page or you risk being penalized by the search engines. Some other useful places to have your keywords are:

  • In your link text. In other words instead of saying 'click here' you can have your keyword phrase in the link text like this: water filter.
  • Within the URL that you are linking to. Here's an example: http://www.123seo.com/website_promotion/submit_to_yahoo.html
  • In the ALT tags of your images. This is also a great place to hide misspellings of common keywords that people use to find your site. You should definitely put keywords in your ALT tags but don't overdo it. Put a different keyword phrase in each alt tag.

Secrets of getting a high ranking
If you are interested in learning more about how to get your pages listed in the top 10 of the major search engines we HIGHLY recommend the WebPosition Gold program from Firstplace software. This program is jam packed with knowledge and great features like those listed here:

  • Page Generator - Creates custom doorway pages to rank high in the search engines for your keyword phrases. You can create your own template to match the look & feel of your site
  • Page Critic - Analyzes each page on your site and tells you EXACTLY what you need to change to make your site rank higher in each search engine
  • Page Submitter - Automatically submits your pages to any or all of the major search engines
  • Reporter - Tells you where you are listed and exactly what position each page is ranked at for every keyword phrase and search engine. A real timesaver!
  • Scheduler - Automatically schedules your search engine submission and reporting projects to run in the background. You can even leave this on and let it run while you sleep
  • Regular Updates - The software automatically updates itself with new information about each search engine so you remain on the CUTTING EDGE of web positioning strategy

To find out more about this amazing software visit our WebPosition Gold site.

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