Have you had this experience? You go to your favorite search engine, type in a keyword for the kind of
web sites you're trying to find, and the search engines comes back with "There are 20,132 pages that
contain this information."
Yikes! Where do you start? The people who design search engines have heard your complaints. Most have been
working hard to make search engines smarter. Here is how engines are changing and how you can take
advantage of these evolving features.
With the exception of Yahoo, which uses real people to review web sites (and, technically, isn't really
a search engine), all search engines are computers. When you register your URL (web site address), the
computer runs over, takes a quick look through your site, and reports the information back to the search
engine's data banks. In general, computers aren't as smart as people, so savvy web designers have come up
with all sorts of tricks to talk search engine computers into giving them a high listing.
No doubt you've clicked over to the top two or three listed sites, only to find that they have little
to do with the topic you're searching for. That's exactly what search engine designers are trying to get
Increasingly, today's smarter engines look at the title of your site, the meta information that you've
included in the Head of your HTML code (we'll get to that), and the actual words that are on your page.
If you put "Denver Broncos" in your title and meta info, but your web page is about how to fix a
sink, the search engine knows something is wrong. It won't give you a good listing.
All this means that it's easier than ever for busy business folks to put together a web site that
search engines will like. Here's what to do:
- Make your web page (or your entire site) closely focused
on a topic that can be summed up in a single keyword or
two. My site is about "marketing." The title of the page (the
name that appears in the little box at the top of your
browser), the meta information, and the words on my page
all talk about "marketing." When a search engine indexes
my site, the computer has no problem figuring out that my
site really is about "marketing"...and there's LOTS of
mentions of "marketing" there.
- Different search engines focus on different aspects of
your site, but most place a heavy emphasis on your
title--that line in the box on your browser. Be sure to
include your most important key word. Some people like to
include it twice if they can use it in a logical sentence. I
could use"Nunley's marketing site: free marketing
information." Of course, going too far with search engine
tactics can make your site read and look funny.
- Several search engines put heavy emphasis on your meta
information. That's a line in your page's HTML code that
gives the engine additional information on the topic of the
site and keywords that correspond with what's in the text. Don't get too carried
away with using one keyword. Keep it down to seven times
at most (otherwise the search engine will disregard the
- Some search engine experts are now advising NOT to
repeat a keyword in any form or fashion. Engines are
starting to penalize for that. Many top sites now simply list
seven or so keywords and leave it at that.
- Search engines can't yet read pictures (even the smartest
computers still get human faces confused with pictures of
pie!), so provide lots of copy that talks about your main
theme and keywords. In other words, make your site about
what your title and meta info claim it's about.
- All this makes it harder for web designers to trick search
engines. In a way, that's good for those of us who are too
busy doing other things to become experts in search engine
registration. There's a simple formula for success: Design a
site that is full of good information on a particular topic, and
give the site a name that clearly and accurately describes it.
That's good marketing, too.
Now I know you're in a hurry, so you'll be pleased to know
that 80% of the people using search engines go straight to
one of the six biggest:
Right now you can register with the first six with one click at
Go to each engine and look for the link that says "add
URL." For Yahoo, you must first go to the listings of sites
like yours, and look for the "suggest a site" link on that
I also advise registering with AOL Netfind. AOL's 15
million members make it the single largest window to the
William R. Stanek, author of the book "Increase Your Web
Traffic in a Weekend," has provided two handy places to
register with many more major link libraries and business
Granted, I've tried to explain search engine registration in
simple terms. There are many more insights and nuances
you can explore (a whole industry has grown up around
search engine manipulation). But following these simple
guidelines will ensure that your web site is search engine-
friendly. You will be much more likely to receive a
favorable listing that will dive many more prospects to your