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Six common misconceptions about search engines

By Lauri Harpf
Posted Thursday, October 21, 2004

Many of us consider search engines and directories to be one of the best and most important methods in driving traffic to the site we’re trying to advertise. Traffic from them is usually free, submitting is easy and everybody knows that search engines are widely used by people when they are trying to find products to buy, sites to visit or when they just want to get some information. Because of that, most of us siteowners are at least somewhat familiar with search engines. Still, there are many misconceptions and untrue rumors considering them.

For example, many of us believe that it is enough to submit one page from your site to each search engine and that the SE’s ‘spider’ will find and add the rest of your pages automatically by following your links. While this was true in the past, and still applies to some engines, such as Google, most spiders have gotten lazy in the new millennium. For example, Altavista’s spider "Scooter" is supposed to follow every link from your site and find all your pages. In reality, it usually just ads the page submitted to it and forgets the rest of the pages found on the site, or takes months to add them. Currently, to get a good representation in search engines, it’s neccessary to submit every one of your pages individually. Note that directories are different; they will generally only accept the front page of your site.

Did that surprise you? Unfortunately, there are also many other misconceptions going around. Here’s five more that are very common:

MISCONCEPTION: "To maintain a representation in search engines, I must resubmit my pages every few weeks/months."

FACT: That won’t do you any good. Instead, check the engines every now and then. If you see that some of your pages have disappeared or they are performing badly and you want to get your new and improved page to the index, then submit. There’s simply no need to resubmit pages that can be found in the SE’s index, especially if they are performing well. "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it."

MISCONCEPTION: "After I’ve submitted, I can forget the search engines and move on."

FACT: This is the opposite of the above, but is equally wrong. If you want to utilize the full potential of search engines, you’re going to have to monitor your performance. Some of your pages might get dropped from the index, some might not make it at all. Some might get there, but may get buried in the bottom of the pile and not found by anyone. To spot and correct these situations, a peek at the engine now and then is required.

MISCONCEPTION: "There are thousands of engines I should submit to, I might as well pay someone to do it."

FACT: There are very few engines and directories you should submit to and keep an eye on. About ten are big enough to worry about, the rest is extra. If you’ve been on the ‘Net for a while, someone has probably offered to "submit your site for 1500 search engines, directories and link sites for $29.95" or something like that. Hopefully you haven’t taken up on that offer, since the places these fellows submit to deliver very little traffic. Certainly not enough to waste your money, perhaps even not enough to waste your time. If you want to pay someone to promote your site, hire a real search engine specialist that will not only submit your site, but also improve its ranking.

MISCONCEPTION: "If I can find my site in Yahoo when I search my site’s title, I’m included in the directory."

FACT: I just had to include this one, because I’ve seen too many people selling "a sure way to get into Yahoo" for $19.95.

As some of you might know, Yahoo’s search results come from two different sources. When Yahoo is searched, it first looks at results from the directory, which is a tough place to get into. After that, it uses Inktomi’s site database, which is very easy to get into. The guys selling a sure way to get into Yahoo will actually only submit your site to Inktomi. The traffic from the Yahoo’s Inktomi listings is minimal compared to the actual directory, since results from the directory are shown first and Inktomi’s results only after them. If you are desperate enough to pay for a listing at Yahoo, don’t pay $19.95 to some scam artist, instead pay $199 to Yahoo and get the Business Express

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