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The Search Engine Blues

By Jennifer Durocher
Posted Monday, October 11, 2004

There's no easy way to talk about this without getting frustrated…getting your site known on the net these days is a most difficult task. Search engines are picky and their rules change everyday, getting a top ten listing is almost impossible, all those "submit to 5000 sites" are bull and other mediums are just too expensive for the small businessman. It's a difficult process to drive customers to your site but it can be done. It is a question of getting someone on top of it - now. There are lots of options available, it just depends on what you're looking to accomplish.
The single most important aspect to consider in promotion and positioning of this nature is to make sure that your website is functional. There is no use in having a website at all if it just does not work. That is probably the worst possible press out there - if word gets out that your site has broken links all over the place and that images are constantly missing, it does not look favorably on you or your business. So make sure that all the links are working, all form submissions do not return errors and all files are there in their proper order. There should probably be minimum one person in your team who does this check at least once a week.

Next, consider the META tag & keyword side of things. We've all heard the horror stories about people abusing them to try and get high rankings on search engines. That is, obviously, not such a good idea. There is no easy solution to the search engine blues, but consider using them, far too many people continue to ignore them. Any web page generator program usually does not include the creation of such tags but they are not that hard to do. A META tag is what "talks" to search engine robots that index your site. For the most part, you need to include them if you want any indexing at all. The two most important tags are: & . The description of your site should be no more than 15 - 20 words, it should be accurate and it should contain at least some of your keywords. Keywords should have relevance. For example, attempting to use the word "sex" 50, 000 times will not win you the love of the search engines. Instead, think carefully about what you think people would type in to find your services. Now use those as your keywords. Do not worry…they'll change over time to better suit your site's changing services, and as you get better with it you'll know exactly what words work best.

The least technically important is the graphic design aspect inasmuch as search engine indexing does not include the look and feel in how they rank your site. However, from a surfer's point of view, the graphics are probably the most important. If you are focusing on repeat business as your primary income, then if it does not look nice, people just will not come back. This includes everything from the images found on your site, to the layout and the usability (user-friendliness).

Another brief topic of concern is the importance of internet directories. Should one take the time to submit their site to these directories? Does anyone actually use them? The trend seems to be going more and more towards the usage of these "man-handled" search engines. Directories offer the public a pre-categorized listing of searchable "channels" - far more organized than search engines. Human eyes as opposed to the greatly feared "spider" sort most of these directories so they tend to be much more accurate. Directories also do not sort through the pages of websites in the same fashion. They do not rely on meta tags as much and do not "rank" sites they just list them alphabetically so there is no competition for 1st place.

Website promotion is a HUGE responsibility and requires a lot of tweaking to only begin to view even the smallest of changes. However, implementation of these few, very basic techniques will definitely make your site friendlier to the internet community at large.

About the Author
Jennifer Durocher
Web Positioning Manager


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