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Understanding Search Engines

By Carl Hruza
Posted Friday, October 22, 2004

Marketing products and/or services on the Internet seems to be direction taken by many of todays businesses. However, are we really prepared for what the Internet has to offer? and are we equiped with the tools and knowledge to exploit the web and make our web based businesses successful? In most cases the answer is NO. Why? - some simple statistics offer the answer: 1) - only 16% of all the web pages submitted for registration to the Internet search engine are actually registered or 'indexed' 2) - 95% of the business web sites that are indexed by the search engines are listed outside of the top two pages of searches returned against keywords that describe the products or services offered by the particular business. What does all this mean? Simple. Your site is invisible to potential customers searching for your products and you may as well not be there! Without visibility through the leading search engines you must turn to other forms of marketing your presence. These are often expensive and very unpredictable. So what options do you have? The most sensible is to employ a specialsit organization to improve your search engine listing or position. This can be expensive depending on the competition for your particular 'keywords', but in most cases a radical improvement in search positions can be attained. Follows is a brief summary of what the search engines are and how they work. This is an essential starting point for anyone serious about Internet trading or 'E-Commerce'

Search Engines And How They Work.

What is a 'search engine'?
It is a software utility or program that is used to find information on the Internet, related to a specific subject that is being sought by the user.

How do I use it?
You log on to a particular search engine web site, such as Alta-Vista or Excite, where you are presented with an 'input' box, allowing text relating to the subject for which you are searching to be entered. The text may be inputted as a single word or a string of text. It may be with or without capitalization, abbreviation, punctuation or parenthesis. The inputted text is termed a 'keyword' or 'keyword phrase'. These keywords are used by the search engines to retrieve web pages with the required subject matter, which are then presented to you for selection and viewing.

How do I get my site listed on the search engines?
In order for a web page or site to be found by the search engine it must first be indexed, that is a record of it's existence made by the search engine in it's extensive library or data base of pages. If your site is not indexed by a search engine, then it can only be found in one of two ways: Through direct input of the URL or site address into the location bar of the web browser, (user must have prior knowledge of the site address), or: By clicking a 'Hyperlink' or advertising banner that connects directly to the site. For a site to be 'visible', it must therefore be indexed by the search engines. To have a site indexed by a search engine, the site URL or address must be individually submitted to each search engine. The search engines are programmed to examine the pages of a site (sometimes called spidering) and record specific information about the site, in a manner that permits easy retrieval of the relevant pages, when called to do so during a user search.

What is search engine 'ranking' or 'positioning', and how is it important?
Most people or businesses that have Internet presence do so because they want to be visible, they want to inform others of their products and services. The Internet if utilized correctly is the perfect medium for attracting prospective customers to your business. The most effective method of generating traffic to your site is through the search engines, i.e. someone is searching the Internet for a product that you happen to offer, and your web site is presented, along with others, to be viewed by the searcher. The problem is one of volume. For example, if the user enters the keywords 'surfing in California', and a list of 20,000 web sites is returned, then 19,950 are probably going to be ignored, the user will generally find what he needs in the first 50 or so. In other words, if your site is all about surfing in California, and you are not positioned or ranked in the top 50 of sites that are presented to the user, then you may as well not be there.

What specific information should I include on my site to attract favorable ranking or positioning?
The type of information that a search engine spider records from a specific site varies with each search engine. A working knowledge of what the specific search engines look for when compiling their indexes can considerably boost a site's position in the rankings. Much of the content important to the search engine for indexing is not visible to the user and is entered in the background by the site programmer. A difficulty arises when the site has a theme or subject that is extremely popular, and is contending with a large number of other web sites for top position. In this case it can take some time to achieve a favorable position, and only after employing extensive techniques in attracting favorable indexing by the search engines. There are many techniques that can be applied to gain favorable search positions.

My business is in a popular category, and I can't achieve favorable positioning, what can I do?. Contact an expert.

What is 'Spamming' and could it help get my position higher?
Yes it could, but the risk is too great. Spamming techniques are various, but generally it is a deliberate attempt to manipulate search engine indexing, to gain an unfair advantage over your competitors. An example could be the repetitive use of keywords in your body text, masked from the viewer by setting the text color to the same color as the background, or repetitive submission of the same pages to the same search engine. Search engine programmers are fast becoming wise to the techniques of spammers, and will drop your site form their listing if you are caught. There are always legitimate ways to reach a good result, they sometimes take a little longer!

The benefits gained through successful ranking in the search engines can be tremendous - increases in traffic ten fold are not uncommon, and if proper attention is paid to targetting the appropriate keywords, most of the traffic will be relevent prospects.

About the Author
Carl Hruza. For more information on this subject, or if you have any information you may like to offer, or require any assistance with your business promotion, please contact carl@connectgreenbay.com or visit us at (www.search-engine-positioning-ranking.com)