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Search Engine FAQs

Q: What is search engine optimization?

A: Search engine optimization means ensuring that your web pages are accessible to search engines and focused in ways that help improve the chances they will be found.. Search engines rate pages relevance to a particular keyword based on numerous rules and scoring systems the engines keep very secret. The rules can relate to the text on the page, where the site links to, whether other sites link to the site, META tags (more later), titles, or almost anything else that can help determine“ relevance.

Search engine positioning specialists attempt to reverse engineer these rules, and modify existing pages accordingly to generate better ratings for the keywords they deem important to their traffic. While many folks get caught up in the rules themselves, the hard part truly lies in 1) selecting the proper keywords (probably 75% of the game, and requiring some pretty significant marketing analysis) and 2) balancing changing the pages to rate high with actually having a good, usable site (you don’t want your page to consist of only "Britney Spears" written 100x, do you?).. There aren't "search engine secrets" that will guarantee a top listing; the game is about careful analysis, and leveraging the strengths of the site itself.

Q: Is Yahoo a search engine?

A: No, Yahoo is a directory. Search engines, such as HotBot, Excite, and AltaVista, create their listings automatically. Search engines crawl the web, then people search through what they have found. If you change your web pages, search engines eventually find these changes, and that can affect how you are listed. Page titles, body copy and other elements all play a role.

A directory such as Yahoo depends on humans for its listings. You submit a short description to the directory for your entire site, or editors write one for sites they review. A search looks for matches only in the descriptions submitted. Many directories, if no results are found, will give you results from an associated search engine, Yahoo will feed Google results if nothing relevant is found in its own directory.

For more information on search engines vs. directories vs. PPC engines (if you don't know the difference already, you MUST read this), check out the article by Mike Jacobs - "When Search Engines Aren't Search Engines".

Q: What are meta tags?

A: Meta tags are hidden tags (not visible in your browser) that tell engines certain information about the site; they provide a useful way to control your summary in some search engines. Meta tags can also help you provide keywords and descriptions on pages that for various reasons lack text. Examples are splash pages and frames pages. They might also boost your page's relevancy. However, simply including a meta tag is not a guarantee that your page should suddenly leap to the top of every search engine listing. They are a useful tool but, not a magic solution. Meta tags must be effectively created in addition to all the other factors listed above. Meta tagging alone won't get you too far these days. Google, for example, ignores meta keywords and descriptions entirely.

Q: What are doorway pages?

A: Specialists may also create additional pages (often called “doorway” or “bridge” pages) designed just to rate high in the scoring and get top ranking in engines for targeted keywords. Doorway pages are created to do well for particular phrases. They are also known as portal pages, jump pages, gateway pages, entry pages and by other names. Doorway pages are easy to identify in that they have been designed primarily for search engines, not for human beings.

Q: But I already submitted to search engines!

A: Submitting is not optimizing. Think of this analogy. Submitting to search engines is like putting yourself in a phone book. Fine, you’re in. But if you sell chairs and you’re listed under Miscellaneous, what does that do for you? We help to make sure that you’re under the right listing, and clear enough to be seen.  Proper SEO positioning will move you from simply “being listed” to actually ranking well for important searches, and getting *traffic* to your site.

Q: I paid someone $99 to submit to submit me to 10,000 engines. What do I need you for?

A: Again, see above. Also important is that 99% of the traffic comes from the top ten sites, so submitting to 10,000 doesn’t do you that much better than submitting to 10. And, more importantly, submitting correctly to 10 engines will probably bring you 100x more results than submitting to all of them blindly. Submitting isn’t the expensive part of the process, either… there are site that will do it for you for free.

Q: Do you guys just add a lot of keywords to our pages?

A: No. Often, too many keyword can ensure that engine will PENALIZE your page. They have a number of rules in place to make sure that pages don’t get ranked high simply because you wrote “Britney Spears” 10,000 times on your page. In the end, you can only optimize for a limited number of keywords. There is no way you can try to position yourself for 100 terms. 5 is closer to most realistic. However, do you know what those prime 5 are? Do you know which are most relevant to you? Do you know which are most highly trafficked? Do you know which ones you actually have a chance to win? (you may find “sex” to be a valuable keyword on all engines, but do you really think you’re going to win it?) Proper SEO will determine your most effective keywords, and help make sure your pages are optimized to “look appropriate” for search engines looking for info on this topic.

Q: We submitted weeks ago. Why aren't we listed in all engines yet?

Unfortunately, this is an all too common question. If it makes you feel any better, you're not the only one frustrated about the length of time it takes to be indexed, or the many pitfalls involved. It often takes anywhere from two days to as much as six months to be listed on a search engine. For example, last month Excite finally updated its index for the first time since last August! Luckily, Excite is the most extreme case lately, but waiting several weeks to a month can also be extremely frustrating.

For more information, check out this article:

Mike Jacobs - "When Search Engines Aren't Search Engines - Search Engines vs. Directories vs. PPC Engines, and why you *need* to understand the difference"

More Search Engines Resources to check out:

  • Overture
  • Webposition - the software tool professionals use to get great search engine placement.  Note that its not the answer to all your problems, but simply a very effective tool to help you promote your own site if you choose to do so.

  • - Submit your site to 15 major search engines for FREE (don't pay money for this service).

  • Search Engine Watch - Ratings of the major sites, and info on how to get better listings

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