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How to improve your ranking on search engines - New techniques can drive thousands of visitors to your web site
by Dr. Kevin Nunley
Randy is the first to tell you driving traffic to your web site is an expensive proposition. "I spent the promotion budget on ads, the grocery money on banners, and we still aren't getting that many hits," he says.
Now Randy turns to search engines. He's heard that tens of millions use them each day to navigate around the Net. A good listing on a major search engine can bring thousands of already-targeted customers to his site. But how can he get his site listed--and fast?
As search engines get more sophisticated, it's easier to get a good site listed. It's also harder to "trick" search engines into listing you. The good news is, if you have a site that is focused on just a few topics your best prospects are likely to search for, you're in a situation where the mammoth Internet portals can help you. And it's all free!
Forget about those services that promise to list you on thousands of search engines. There are only three search engines that really count. Because a number of the majors use the same database, you can register on one and show up on several of them.
"Don't waste time trying to get on Yahoo," says Jerry West, search engine expert with NetGateway. "Instead, submit your site to HotBot.com." Both use the Inktomi database. A listing on HotBot virtually guarantees a showing on Yahoo.
Recently AltaVista surged in user popularity. It ranks as one of the best places to have your site listed. Alta Vista rotates visitors through four databases. If you don't see your site listed, try again in 15 minutes when the next database will be on display. Register with Alta Vista weekly to get your site listed in all four databases.
You will also want to submit your web address to Excite, perennially one of the most used engines. Like HotBot and Alta Vista, Excite spiders through your site in a matter of seconds. Your listing can show up within a few days.
YOUR TITLE IS TOPS.
Search engines pay close attention to the title of your site. That's the line that appears in the little box on your browser. Take care to include two or three keywords that your best prospects are likely to type into a search engine when they are looking for a site like yours.
"Welcome to Sheila's Web Site" may sound good, but it doesn't give search engines much to go on. It would be better to title Sheila's opening page with some words about what Sheila offers, like "Solutions for credit card debt, loan restructuring, and bankruptcy."
That gives a search engine several good keywords to use when categorizing Sheila's site, words that her customers are likely to use when looking for her.
HOW TO FIND POPULAR KEYWORDS.
Big companies now have access to records from all the major search engines. These databases show which keywords people search with. Often a company can find a keyword that millions of people search with, but isn't used by many web sites. Using a popular but neglected keyword can draw a goldmine of new visitors.
West says you don't have to lay out big bucks for the insider's list of keywords. Anyone can find them by checking Goto.com. The engine lists keywords that people use along with a rating of their popularity.
More and more, getting a good listing on search engines has less to do with tricks of the trade and more to do with how well your site covers a particular topic. After all, that's what people hope to find when they use a search engine.
Spend time crafting a inviting description of your site to include in your Meta Tags (for a quick lesson on how to write your own Meta Tags, see Alta Vista's short tutorial at http://www.altavista.com (look in the "add url" section").
Search engines display your description next to the link to your site. A good description can grab attention and cause lots of people to click to your site rather than another one.
Be patient and don't get too obsessive. I find that once sites are listed on the six or seven major search engines, they tend to start showing up on many other search engines and link libraries. You can register your site with all the majors with one click at http://www.all4one.com/. You can register free with over 400 search engines and link libraries with a single click at http://www.submit4free.com/.
Finally, make sure the copy on your web site is interesting and makes
customers want to buy. All the traffic in the world won't earn you a dime
unless your web site converts visitors into buyers.