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Win the Search Engine Game

A beginner's guide to increasing web site traffic

Learn the rules

to create legitimate top ranking pages.

by Charles Cook

Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ Œ

Includes

1 Establishing Your Game Plan

2 What the Search Engines Want

3 Attract Customers With Keywords

4 Open the Door to Incoming Traffic

5 Put Your Keywords in the Right Places

6 Advanced Tips

7 Learn What Works!

8 Specific Requirements of the Search Engines

9 How to Get Kicked Out of the Game

10 Page Building Overview

Note this is an unsupported guide. No updates are provided nor warranties of any kind made.


Table of Contents

ΠAbout this Report -

ΠHow To Use This Report -

ΠLearn the Rules of the Game -

1 Establishing Your Game Plan -

ΠWhere to Start -

ΠTarget the Traffic

ΠWhere the Money Is -

2 What the Search Engines Want -

ΠGetting a Top Score in the Search Engine Game -

ΠKeep Track of Your Relevancy Score -

ΠPay Attention to Keyword Density -

ΠWhy its Important to be Popular -

3 Attract Customers With Keywords -

ΠHow to Select and Use the Right Keywords -

ΠAmplify Your Keyword List -

ΠAvoid Unrelated Keywords -

ΠWatch Out for Stopwords -

ΠWhen to Use Plurals -

ΠAre Capitals Important? -

ΠCustomer Oriented Keyword Phrases -

ΠInclude Misspelled Words -

ΠUse Abbreviations too -

ΠRank Keyword Phrases -

ΠPage Building Evolution -

4 Open the Door to Traffic -

ΠUse Multiple Front Doors -

ΠTarget Individual Keyword Phrases -

ΠLabel Your Doorway Pages -

ΠUse Multiple Web Sites to Target Customers -

5 Put Your Keywords in the Right Places -

ΠTune Up Your Pages for the Search Engines -

ΠUse Your Keyword Phrases Here! -

ΠTITLE tag -

ΠKEYWORD Meta tag -

ΠDESCRIPTION Meta tag -

ΠCOMMENT tag -

ΠBODY -

ΠUsing Hidden Text -

ΠALT tags -

ΠFORM tags -

ΠDomain and File Name -

6 Advanced Tips -

Œ Increase Your Page×s Popularity -

ΠTell the Search Engines When and What to Index -

ΠDesigning Pages With Tables -

ΠAvoid the Pitfalls of Frames -

ΠShould You Use Redirect Pages? -

ΠTITLE Tag Tweaking for Directories -

ΠKeep Banners Clear of Your Text -

7 Learn What Works! -

ΠChange is the Only Constant -

ΠLearn from Your Competitors -

ΠDo Your Own Research -

ΠTrack Your Page Rankings -

 

8 Specific Requirements of the Search Engines -

ΠDevelop a Marketing Strategy for the Search Engines -

Œ If It Ain×t Broke, Don×t Fix It -

ΠYahoo -

ΠExcite -

ΠHotBot/ Inktomi powered -

ΠInfoseek -

ΠAltaVista -

ΠLycos -

9 How to Get Kicked Out of the Game -

ΠBreak the Density or Repetition Rules -

ΠUse the Old Switcheroo Trick -

10 Page Building Overview -

ΠSummary Checklist

 

Use of Trademarked Names

Note that search engines, directories and products mentioned in this report are trademarked. These include but are not limited to: Infoseek, Excite, Altavista, Yahoo, Lycos, Hotbot, Pagemill, Frontpage, Newsletter Access, Microsoft, ...

 

 

About this Report


The purpose of this report is to help web entrepreneurs and internet businesses build traffic to their web sites, resulting in increased success and profits. Whether you are marketing exotic chili sauce or mutual funds, the first task is to bring people to your web site. If no customers show up, you won×t sell anything.

Search engines and directories like Yahoo, Excite, and Infoseek are one of the primary ways people find your products and services on the web. To gain access to the millions of people that use these search engines daily, your site needs to appear at or near the top of the search engines (in position 1-20) for relevant terms. The closer your site appears to the top, the more incoming traffic you×ll see.

To get a quick overview on how the various search engines and directories operate, try searching for the same word or phrase with multiple engines and directories. You can do this easily at searchiq.zdnet.com.

How to Use this Report

The first two-thirds of this report detail a set of generic strategies for developing your web site and pages for highvisibility in the search engines. The last third of the report gives you the specific requirements of the most frequently used engines. This will enable you to fine tune your pages for each search engine. Read this report from the beginning and don×t just skip to the section on individual search engine requirements. You won×t be able to write your pages effectively for the search engines without implementing the core strategies described in the first part of the report.

Learn the Rules of the Game

If you search under almost any word in the search engines, you will turn up hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of relevant pages. How can you get your page or web site to appear at or near the top of the search engines× listings? Achieving this is like a game. To win you need to know the rules and how to apply them.

Each search engine has established an intricate and constantly evolving system to sort and rank web. Each one has its own set of rules for ranking your web pages. Unlike the speed limits on the interstate highway, the search engines take their rules very seriously. Adherening to them can put your site on top and generate thousands of incoming visitors.

In certain cases it is possible to trick or subvert the engines and push a web page to the top temporarily. Don×t do it! The search engines eventually find these pages and may permanently delete your entire site.

Winning the search engine game doesn×t involve subverting the engines, but rather meticulously planning, writing and designing your pages to meet the individual search engines× requirements. Follow the guidelines described here and you can achieve top rankings for your web pages and gain a strong competitive advantage in the internet marketplace.

This report gives you state of the art knowledge of ways to get your web site listed as close to the top of search engine listings as possible. A basic understanding of the Web is assumed. Knowledge of Hyper Text Markup Language (html) is extremely helpful. If you×ve never created a web page, start by obtaining one of the basic page building programs such as HotdogĀ, PagemillĀ, or FrontpageĀ and put up a couple of pages about your pet or hobby as a trial run.

Helping the search engines find your site is relatively simple. Anyone who can surf the web, conduct searches with the search engines and use basic web page programs like HotdogĀ, FrontpageĀ or PagemillĀ can do it. All you need to do is get your text and html source code working for you to let the search engines know that your site exists. It does require a close attention to detail. Remember, its not a matter of following some of the strategies described but in consistently applying all of them.

The search engine placement strategies outlined here work. We×ve tested them. It would be nice to be able to guarantee that these strategies will work for you, but its not possible because the search engines change too frequently. Use the ideas in this report, but don×t sit back once you×ve applied them. Check the search engines frequently, see where your site is listed and what the sites listed above yours are doing differently. Adapt their strategies and keep learning.

The focus is on helping the search engines send traffic to your web site. While other web marketing strategies aren×t detailed here, don×t forget the importance of getting your site listed and linked on other complementary sites, of using email, and traditional marketing in print and other media.

Establishing Your Game Plan


Where to start

80% of all users begin their time on the internet at one of the many search engines or directories. The quickest way to build traffic is to get your site to the top of search engine and directory listings.

Hundreds of search engines and directories now exist on the web and more are emerging each day. Some people use the shotgun approach and submit their site to every possible search engine. Don×t. Prioritize your efforts. Market your pages to the engines that have the most traffic and generate the greatest amount of revenue. Once you have submitted your site to these high-volume engines, use a professional search engine submission service, to submit your site to the hundreds of additional search engines for breadth of exposure. Submission services that hand submit your site to the search engines get the best results.

Target the Traffic

Based on data collected by "Relevant Knowledge", Yahoo continues to be the most popular way to find web sites.We don×t see this changing in the near future. (Read the section on Yahoo to learn what differentiates Yahoo from the other search engines.)

      yahoo.com
      27
      excite.com
      13
      Infoseek.com
      12
      lycos.com
      7
      altavista.digital.com
      7
      webcrawler.com
      4
      hotbot.com
      3

Begin by listing your site with the busiest three to five search engines. Top listings in Yahoo, Excite, and Inktomi are most important, although you may want to start with engines which are easier to work with like Lycos, AltaVista.

Up-to-date information on internet usage and search engine popularity can be found at

http://www.RelevantKnowledge.com/ http://www.RelevantKnowledge.com/Press/articles.html

http://www.npd.com/corp/press/press_mm65.html

Read both the press releases and articles for the latest statistics. Searchenginewatch.com is another good resource for current information on search engine trends.


What the Search Engines Want

Play by the rules and your site can be a winner. Ignore the rules and risk getting thrown out of the game.

Yahoo, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, -- all the search engines want to provide people with a meaningful, profitable resource. The service they provide is to help people find what they are looking for on the web. The better each search engine does this and the easier it is to use, the more traffic it will get itself and the more money it will make from advertising.

Question: "Where can a thousand pound gorilla sit?" Answer: "Anywhere he wants!" Search engines companies have spent millions of dollars in development; coming out on top of this high stakes business means they need a hefty share of the billion dollar advertising market. They are the thousand pound gorillas of web commerce. Do everything you can to learn and play by their rules.

Any attempts to subvert the search engines and break their rules reduces their utility and potentially their revenue. This upsets them and their revenge is simple: your web page listings or website are deleted from their listings. Work with their rules and requirements, follow them more closely than your competition and you can generate the traffic you need to establish a successful web business.

Follow the steps outlined below carefully, take the time to do them correctly and then monitor the results to see how your pages rank.

Getting a Top Score in the Search Engine Game

Everyone wants their web pages to show at the top of the search engines× listings. To get there your web pages must rank higher in the search engines than your competitors for a number of variables. Depending on the individual search engine, web page rank is based on the following variables: page title, description, keyword frequency and/ or keyword density, location of keywords in the text and source code, and page popularity. (see the section on attracting customers for a definition of "keywords") In this report the variables that matter for each search engine and ways to develop your page for top ranking are explained.

Keep Track of Your "Relevancy" Score

Every time you use an engine like Excite or Infoseek to search for a keyword or keyword phrase, the engine ranks the web pages it finds according to their "relevancy". This score appears at the left hand side of the listing. The "relevancy" that appears next to your page is your page×s "score." Of course, the higher your page×s score, the better your ranking.

Each search engine determines a web page×s relevancy based on its own set of variables. These include the use of your keywords in your title, description, opening sentences, page, closing sentence, alt tags (image description tag) and amount of text on the page. Putting your keywords in your text is essential. The number of times you need to use them depends on the amount of text on your page and the preferences of the individual search engine.

Pay Attention to Keyword Density, Not Just the Number of Repetitions

Search engines such as Excite and Infoseek now use "density" as one contributing criteria in ranking the relevancy of pages. Density is the ratio of certain repeated keywords to the total number of words on the page. On pages with minimal text, a couple of repetitions of your keywords is usually enough. For long pages, many repetitions of your keywords may be necessary. With some engines, less text is best; with others more is better.

Knowing which search engines rank density and howthey rank it is a key element in achieving top ranking pages. Some engines vary page relevancy if your keyword density is too high or too low. Other search engines, including Infoseek, severely penalize page relevancy if the keyword density exceeds a certain percentage.

Getting your keyword density right is one of the more difficult components of developing your page. If your page has only one sentence or less of text on it, the search engines tend to allow a higher density than if you have 200 words of text. For some engines 3% appears to be the magic density number, in other cases it is 9% or higher. Other search engines only pay attention to the repetitions of your keywords.

Use your keywords in the context of your text. Don×t bunch them all together at the beginning or end and don×t just repeat them over and over. Look at other high-ranking pages of similar size and identify the density or frequency that works for that search engine and page size.

NoteTab (www.notetab.ch) is one good text and html editor for fine tuning web pages and keyword density.

Why Its Important To Be Popular

Any search engine system for ranking pages based solely on keywords is subject to corruption, both intentional and by chance. In the fall of 1997, Infoseek saw a flood of pages placed by search engine positioning specialists who had figured out Infoseek×s keyword criteria. The result was a large number of third party pages promoting other peoples sites being artificially pushed to the top. Most of these pages were located on separate servers and just refreshed over to the intended site. In addition, other unrelated pages ended up at the top due to the chance repetition of certain keywords.

To avoid this type of subversion and erroneous rankings, Infoseek and some other search engines now pay attention to page popularity. It×s much harder to fool the popularity test. It appears that engines like Excite and Infoseek rank page popularity based on the number of incoming links to a page. Both external incoming links and internal links are counted. Its not clear which are more important in the search engines× eyes, but building both external and internal links to your most important pages should be an integral part of your site marketing program.

Attract Customers With Keywords

Identification of your keywords is one of the most important tasks involved in marketing your Web site. Keywords are those words which describe your product and service and use when searching for your site. For example, for Fidelity "mutual funds, stocks, and investment" are some of their keywords.

Search engines index your Web page according to what they read in the <TITLE> tag, <ALT> tags and the <BODY> of your pages. Using the "right" keywords on your web page is critical to building traffic to your site. The following pages give you a step-by-step explanation of how to select and assemble your marketing keywords. Take plenty of time and do an exhaustive job of considering and choosing your keywords.

Keep in mind that the success of your web site depends on getting your keywords right! These keywords will serve as the foundation of most of the steps involved in pushing your web site to the top of the search engines.

How to Select & Use the Right Keywords

Search engines are looking for legitimate text in your pages. The objective is to include keywords in this text in a natural way.

Step 1

Identify the keywords that describe the focus of your web site. Using a word processing program, create a vertical list of the words customers might use when searching for your site. If you market "Investment Newsletters", keywords will include, "investments, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and stock market." Once you×ve selected your own keywords or phrases, try out this list of words and phrases using a couple of the search engines to see whether they pull up sites similar to yours. We like using Yahoo, Infoseek, Excite, Web Crawler, Lycos, Northern Light and AltaVista for this test.

Look at any sites listed above yours in the search engine. Visit the top 3-5 sites listed (your competition×s sites) and examine their html source code (view source on your browser) to see what they put in the <TITLE> tag, <META> tags and <BODY>. Use this information to edit and augment your keyword list. Note: you may not be viewing the source code they used to get their page ranked with the search engines, but at this point it doesn×t matter, you×re just looking for ideas of the types of keywords that will attract your customers.

Step 2

Develop your page text using these keywords. If your site markets "sony camcorders", its only natural that you×ll mention "sony" and "camcorders" a number of times throughout the page. Just repeating the phrase "sony camcorders" dozens of times on the page will alienate both the search engines and potential customers. It doesn×t make for interesting copy and can violate some of the search engines rules. The best way to work with the search engines is by starting with a well written page of descriptive text.

If you will be creating a number of entry pages consider purchasing or subscribing to one of the search engine placement software programs. Placement programs already exisit that can be accessed online and automate the time consuming process of creating individual search engine placement pages.

The third step is to check to see if the resultant page meets the search engines× rules, and make any necessary modifications to ensure compliance.

Amplify Your Keyword List

Use the keywords you collected from your search engine tests as the foundation of your keyword list but don×t stop here. Take another look at the keywords you have to see if they suggest any related words or words with similar meanings. If you sell running shoes, include variations of the word run such as running or runners. If boat is one of your keywords include relevant words like sailing, watersports, yachts, etc. If one of your keywords is "profit," you will want to include "income." Bring people to your site by anticipating the keywords and phrases they are likely to use in searching for the products and services you provide.

Avoid Unrelated Keywords

Rumor has it that the search engines are beginning to exclude Web pages that use keywords in their TITLE and META tags that are unrelated to the site content. A trick often cited is to include "creative keywords" in your html TITLE and META tags; such as sex, women, nude, adult, erotic, and naked. This idea is just plain stupid unless your target audience is people searching for porno pictures or you want to risk having your Web page excluded from the search engines. Instead of trying to "trick" people to visit your site, beat your competition by getting it right.

Watch Out For Stopwords

Some search engines like Excite don×t rank certain words. These include prepositions, "the, and, to, of," and commonly used words such as "web, internet, site, etc." At an engine that has "stopwords" you won×t be able to achieve a top listing for the phrase "web marketing". If "web" is a stopword, the engine searches for sites using other words in the search such as "marketing". If one of your target keywords is a stopword, try for a top listing for a non-stop word, in this case "marketing" or "webmarketing".

To find out if one of your words is a stop word search for that word by itself. For example if you search for "web" in Excite and it will come up with no results. Before finalizing your list of keywords check each search engine to see if any of them are stopwords.

When to Use Plurals

In many search engines adding an "s" to the end of your keywords helps bring up your page for both the singular and plural versions of the keywords. Unfortunately some search engines are plural sensitive; when someone types in the word "boat" only listings documents with the word boat are listed, others with the word "boats" are ignored. Similarly, if "boats" is searched for, documents with the word "boat" are not included. Typically these same search engines operate the same way with contractions like website and wouldn×t find pages with the keyword web or site.

Check your master keyword list and make sure you have both the singular and plural represented on your page. If you×re still looking for additional keywords to consider, try varying the verb tense if appropriate; run, running, runners. (In some search engines if you do a search for the word "boat", it pulls up documents containing the word boats or boating.)

Are Capitals Important

Some search engines differentiate between words that are capitalized and those that appear only in lowercase letters. Use both capitalized and lowercase versions of your keywords in your document, if possible.

Include Misspelled keywords

Most of us are less than perfect spellers and you can safely assume that people will type in misspelled versions of your keywords when they use the search engines to look for your site. Check to see if your keywords are included in the list of commonly misspelled words compiled by the University Writing Center at: http://www.ualr.edu/~owl/misspell.html .

The list of commonly misspelled words includes some suprising words that even we know how to spell, such as "across, coming, forty, escape, writing." While your spelling may be perfect other people are likely to be frequently misspell your keywords. Include the misspelled versions on your search engine placement pages too.

Include Abbreviations

If an abbreviation exists for a word and people are familar with, they will use it. If we×re searching for lawyers in Connecticut we×d enter "CT lawyers". Similarly if you want information about the Internal Revenue Service , you×d start a search using, "IRS". Include common abbreviations for your keywords in your page text.

Customer Oriented Keyword Phrases

While it would be great if each of your pages ranked at the top for each of your individual keywords, it×s just not possible or necessarily important. According to a study conducted by NPD Online Research, 59% of searches start with two or more words. Most people use a combination of words or phrases when conducting a search.

Most pages are best represented by a combination of words. If you sell homes, keyword combinations might include, "real estate investment, real estate income, income opportunities,..." The challenge is to truly understand what your potential customers want and the keyword phrases they are likely to use with the search engines.

Rank Your Keyword Phrases

At this point in the development of your keyword list you should have ten to twenty keyword phrases. Take a minute to sort these according to the degree of importance, putting the most essential phrase at the start. If you sell training in teamwork, put the phrase "teamwork" at the top, followed by team building, group dynamics etc. Search engines look for keywords and the frequency of use of these keywords relative to the amount of text and its location on your page.

Page Building Evolution

1. Identify the keywords and keyword phrases that are central to the individual page theme, product or service.

2. Build a short compelling descriptive sentence for the TITLE tag of 7-12 words. Use your target keyword (second or third word) and includes other keywords. Limit this to 70 characters if you want the search engines to read all of it.

3. Write the body of your page text using your keywords, making sure to include a clear description of your page and or site in the first. Net Traffic×s software provides you with an easy to use system for organizing and designing placement pages.

4. Review and edit your text. The objective is to put up a page that is more compelling and better written than the competition. No matter how flashy and well designed your pages are, the first thing most people will see isn×t your web page but the copy in your TITLE tag and the page description that appears in the search engine listing.

5. If you×ve done all of the above, you×re ready to fine tune your pages for the individual search engines. Read on!

Open the Door to Traffic


Use Multiple Front Doors to Your Site

One way to increase the odds that people will find your site is to use multiple entry pages. Like a house with many doors, it is easier to get inside.

Target Individual Keyword Phrases

Most web sites cover more than one topic and if you×ve done your homework so far you have created a list of a number of keyword phrases. How can you market all of these to the search engines?

While it may be possible to cram all your keyword phrases onto one web page, writing compelling text about dozens of products within the confines of one page is difficult at best. The solution is simple. Use each of your keyword phrases as the basis for one "front door" page.

While it×s possible to get a high ranking for one page for two to three keywords or phrases, the more keywords you target the harder it is. For example, if you have only two to three keywords which can be used together in a compelling fashion, one web page may do. If you are marketing numerous products with unrelated keywords, you×ll need to use a number of "front door" pages. You may need a different url for product, service or business focus.

At Newsletter Access http://www.newsletteraccess.com, an online searchable directory of over 5,000 newsletters we learned this lesson the hard way. When we first listed this page with the search engines we had all the keywords represented from Advertising to Wine. The result? Even we couldn×t find this site in the search engines, it was buried so far down the list. Not many people search under the topic "newsletter access" or "newsletter directory." They do search under individual topics such as investment tips, health, environment, according to their interests.

We identified the top twenty areas of interest based on the number of newsletters in each category and built individual pages and keyword sets for all twenty including Advertising, Health, Law, etc., with outstanding results. With the addition of over twenty different "front door" pages with titles such as "investment newsletters," and "health newsletters," traffic to the site soared. In addition we×ve found that people enjoy the free magazines and investment center features. Each of these content areas has its own "front door" page and is listed with the search engine driving traffic to the site.

Label Your Doorway Pages

Some search engines limit the number of submissions from individual URLs, and it appears others may rank index pages higher than other pages. Using the url to mention your keywords again helps bring customers in and may add to your page relevance with the search engines.

A simple way of keeping your site organized and working with the search engine rules is to make each "front door" page an index page. For example if your site is www.pet.com, create separate front door index.html pages for cats, dogs, pet food, etc:

www.pets.com/cats

www.pets.com/dogs

www.pets.com/pet_food

Next, create individual variations of these pages within each directory (cats, dogs, pet_food), targeted for the individual search engines. "Front door" pages, often called "splash pages," don×t have to be index pages nor do they need to be very long. In some cases a title, a line of text or a small graphic file and link is all that is needed. Don×t try to cheat; some search engines delete pages from their database that are duplicates and vary only by URL. As you develop additional "front door" pages make sure that each one varies significantly both in title and content.

Customize Front Door Pages For Each Search Engine

Once you have your "front door" pages written and designed, you×ll need to create customized versions for each search engine (Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, AltaVista, etc). To avoid confusion develop a labeling system to keep track of which pages were developed for which engines. For example:

www.bestpages.com/design_E.html (Excite)

www.bestpages.com/design _I.html (Infoseek)

www.bestpages.com/design _L.html (Lycos)

www.bestpages.com/design _A.html (Altavista)

As you can imagine, keeping track of page naming and remembering which one was submitted to which engine and when can become an onerous task. If you are creating more than a small handful of pages use one placement software which automates the search engine placement page building, naming and submission process.

Whether or not you use software to organize your page building, use caution in submitting too many pages with similar names. The number of pages with similar names that is acceptable to the search engines is unclear at this point. Exercise caution and limit submission of similar page URLs to five to ten at the most.

Use Multiple Web Sites to Target Customers

Depending on how aggressive you want to be, using multiple URLs can give you additional leverage in marketing your web business. Many search engines have gotten wise to the people who submit tons of pages with only small variations. If your keyword phrases have one or more words in common, it may be difficult to get all of them listed from one URL. Most search engines now group all pages from each domain for a specific keyword, say "dog food", together. The solution is simple; use individual web sites for each keyword phrase, or as many as you can manage and afford. With hosting fees of $25 per month or less per URL, its possible to segment your product line by web site, and more effectively target customers.

Using multiple web sites is another way to increase the traffic of each individual web site. With each web site linked to the others, the potential is there for more people to find your individual sites and you increase the search engines× rating of the "popularity" of each site.

Put Your Keywords In the Right Places

Tune Up Your Pages for the Search Engines

Once you have identified and prioritized your keywords and written your page text, the next step is to make sure your keywords are located in all the right places on your page. This chapter provides an overview of where to put your keywords and why it matters. For specific information on what each search engine wants turn to the chapter on specific search engine requirements.

Remember, use only keywords that match the content of your site. The search engines don×t like to find unrelated pages showing up in every topic area. Some overly aggressive sex sites have, in the past, coded their sites to appear under other categories including investments, real estate or sports. These URL×s have, for the most part, been deleted from the search engines.

Use You Keyword Phrases Here:

ΠTITLE tag *a good idea

ΠKEYWORD meta tag *for certain search engines

ΠDESCRIPTION meta tag *for certain search engines

ΠCOMMENT tag not important anymore

ΠBODY - headlines, first sentence & text *** most important

ΠALT tags * for some engines, if no text

ΠSearch engine registration title & description specific to yahoo

Œ Hidden text if can×t fit in the BODY

ΠDomain & URL * can help

Use Your Page to Shout Your Keywords to the Search Engines

The objective is to get all parts of your web page working together to support the product or service you are marketing. Done correctly, this will put your page at the top of the search engines for a particular set of keywords.

TITLE Tag

The TITLE tag gives you a place to briefly describe what your page is about. In many search engines this is the only part of your listing that you can control. Unless you think people will be entering your company name when they start a search, like Microsoft or Ford, its a waste of space to include your company name in the TITLE tag. A succinct descriptive title that includes your target keywords works well. For example:

"Fidelity Mutual Funds and Online Investor Services"

"Bermuda Vacation Guide: Discount Online Travel Air and Hotel Reservations"

"Order Quality Dog and Cat Food for Your Pet Online "

Don×t use all caps in your TITLE or DESCRIPTION tag. Its too hard to read. For example:

"MIDDLE EARTH FISH FOOD THAT MAKES EM ROLL OVER"

Remember, as people scan the search engine listings, its your TITLE tag which will prompt them to click on the link to your site. Take the time to write TITLE tags which motivate people to read the listing description and click through to your site.

Change the TITLE of Low Traffic Pages Every Month or Two

Some search engines (Excite) revisit web sites on a regular basis to update their database. If you have pages that are getting lots of hits, leave the TITLE tag alone. If not, fine tune the TITLE tag and body text and the search engine "robots" will see it as a new page. Combined with your fine tuning of keywords in the TITLE, the net effect can push your page higher in the search engines× listings. When you change the TITLE tag, check to make sure the rest of the page supports and amplifies the new TITLE.

META Tags

<META> tags have the general form <META name="..." value="...">. "Name" indicates how the particular tag describes the document, and the value (or content) gives the actual information. Placed just after the TITLE tag, above the BODY. Some searches use these to describe your page.

KEYWORD Meta Tag

This is the place that was originally intended to give you room to include keywords. Up to 1,000 characters of space are allowed. Unfortunately only a few search engines pay any attention to this meta tag. InfoSeek has been known to penalize your page if a keyword is repeated more than once in the KEYWORD Meta tag.

In some cases its best not to use the KEYWORD Meta tag. If Infoseek doesn×t find the KEYWORD Meta tag, it looks in your text where you should have your keywords anyway.

Example:

<meta name="KEYWORDS" value="secrets, investments, stocks, funds, mutual,

high yield, trends, U.S. Stocks, money, advice, finance, opportunities, strategy, fund">

DESCRIPTION Meta Tag

A few search engines, (Infoseek) display this information below the page TITLE for your listing, to provide surfers with a brief site summary so they can determine whether to visit the site. Include a brief, compelling and straightforward description of your site. Limit the overall length of this tag to 200 bytes or approximately 150 characters, and no more than five to seven repetitions of any one word. Keep your description to a sentence or two, using your keywords no more than twice, or once per sentence.

An alternative to using the DESCRIPTION Meta Tag for most search engines is to place your descriptive information in the first paragraph of text on the page, which is a good ide ain any case. Limit this critical description information to a couple of sentences, or approximately 150 characters. If it is longer, the search engines may not include all of it.

Example

<meta name="DESCRIPTION" value="Profit from investments secrets of experts. Hot Tips, Trends, Forecasts, Strategies. Inside information on stocks, mutual funds, futures, commodities. Over 430 newsletters">

COMMENT Tag

Use the COMMENT tag to place notes or reminders to yourself in the html code when you don×t want them to be seen as part of the page text.

Comment tag example:

<!--Remember to count keywords versus total text words to determine keyword density -->

Some search engines, like Excite, used to read keywords located in the COMMENT Tags stacked below the BODY tag. Currently Excite ignores COMMENT tags altogether.

Recently we have found that putting the COMMENT tag above the HTML increases the relevancy of some listings. You may want to use it in this spot just to remind yourself which keywords the page is coded for.

Example:

<!--pet food -->

<HTML>

<HEAD>

BODY - Headlines and Lead Paragraph

Search engines particularly like text when it is written in punctuated sentences; this is where they look for your keywords. We×ve had good results from pages that had the keywords in the first sentence with Infoseek. Excite, on the other hand, reads keywords in the early part of your text as well as at the end of your page. Include your keywords in the lead sentence, throughout your page text and in the last sentence.

Use the first paragraph to describe your site, incorporating your keywords in the first part of the first sentence of your text. If you don×t include a Meta description tag, Infoseek will use this first paragraph (up to 200 characters) as the page description. These are the first 200 characters you insert after the HTML <BODY> tag that appears on your page.

Some web sites open with an eye-catching graphic. While this may be attractive, search engines read text, not graphics. Make sure you've placed one or two succinct and comprehensive sentences using your keywords above any graphics in your html code. One way to do this is to use your first keyword sentence as a small headline. <h6>keyword sentence </h6>. Tests of this approach were inconclusive.

If you want people to focus on the page graphic and text other than the first keyword sentence, put your keyword filled summary sentence at the top of the page in a small font size and light shade of color. Be careful to distinguish the text color from the page background color. Some search engines reject pages where the text and background color are similar.

Using Hidden Text & Keyword Stuffing

One questionable strategy to increase the relevancy of your keyword phrases with the search engines is to repeat keywords and keyword phrases over and over. This is usually done at the bottom of the page a couple of carriage returns below the page copy. Typically this text is displayed in the same color as the background text, making it invisible to the viewer.

Does this work? For some search engines, yes. Other search engines (Infoseek) delete pages using this approach. Should you do it? Your best strategy is to include the keywords in the normal course of describing services and products in the BODY of your page. Use them at the beginning of your text and at the end. If this is not an option due to design or graphic considerations, include your keywords two or three carriage returns below the normal bottom of the page. This way they will display below what appears on most peoples× screens. To ensure the text is read by search engines that look that far down your page, show this "hidden text" in a color that is significantly different from the background color. Use a clearly visible color for the text or risk haing your page deleted.

ALT Tags: Sites Using Images

What can you do to help the search engines find your page if it starts with a graphic image and or lacks text? Some search engines (Infoseek) index the ALT attribute in the <IMG> tag. If your site consists mainly of graphics, you can also use the ALT attribute to describe your page and list your keywords.

For example:

<IMG SRC="/images/money.gif" ALT="money making opportunities income cash profit">

We×ve seen some sites put their 1,000 character keyword list in the ALT tag. Don×t do this. Check the information on individual search engines first to see if they read ALT tags. Some search engines read the ALT tag as text, so be careful not to violate the density rule by excess repetitions in the ALT tag.

Hidden Pixel

In some cases your text copy may not lend itself to inclusion of the keywords or summary sentence you have selected. If you don×t have a graphic to insert, you can create an invisible graphic file, one that is a single white pixel. If you include this you can then fill its ALT tag with your text and keywords.

FORM Tags

FORM tags offer yet another place to include keywords.

For example:

<FORM METHOD="POST" ACTION="fmp">

<input type="hidden" name="moveit" VALUE=" Insert your keywords here.">

</FORM>

For extensive information on META tags visit the Web Developer×s Virtual Library at http://www.stars.com.

Domain & File Name

Some search engines appear to increase a page×s relevancy score when the page name includes one or more of the keywords. If you sell dog food, use your page names to help organize your site and help the search engines find your keywords. Page names might include:

www.pets.com/dog/dog1.html

www.pets.com/dog/food1.html

www.pets.com/dog/dog_food1.html

If possible include your most important keywords in your root URL, i.e. www.keyword1_keyword2.com. This can increase the relevancy of your pages with certain search engines (Excite). Note that currently Excite only pays attention to keywords included in your root URL. Keywords located later in the URL such as www.best.com/keyword.html are ignored by Excite.

Advanced Tips


How to Increase Your Page×s Popularity

Search engines like Excite and Infoseek evaluate a page×s popularity as one indicator of page "relevancy", the score assigned to each page listed when you conduct a search. The more popular a page is, the higher the overall relevancy. Combined with effective use of keywords, popular pages receive high relevancy scores.

Increasing your pages× popularity is one key strategy to pushing them to the top of the search engines. Search engines rate the popularity of individual pages by counting the number of incoming links to these pages from other pages on your site and from other URLs.

Develop a strategy for building incoming links from other sites to your most important pages. The objective is to have as many incoming links to your key pages as possible. At a minimum you want more incoming links than the competition. This includes getting other sites to link to your pages and making links from other domains you may have to your target pages. Another strategy is to incorporate links to key pages in the body of your web page. If you want to include more links than your page design will accommodate easily, add them two or three carriage below your text under the heading, "Recommended Links".

If you decided to build "Recommended Link" pages to increase the popularity of a targeted page, use the following format. Give the page an innocuous title and a few lines of text that will prevent it from showing up when people are searching for content-related pages. After this non-introductory text, list the URLs whose popularity you want to increase. For example:

<HTML>

<HEAD>

<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="ALL">

<TITLE>--no content / test page</TITLE>

</HEAD>

<BODY BGCOLOR="#ffffff">

A HREF="index.html"><FONT SIZE=+4>Testing Error!</FONT></A>

<P ALIGN=CENTER><A HREF="index.html"><B><FONT SIZE=+1>Sorry please click here for more information</FONT></B></A></P>

</BLOCKQUOTE>

<P>&nbsp;.</P>

<P>&nbsp;<I>Site Page Indexes</I><HR ALIGN=LEFT></P>

< <DT><A HREF="http://www.targetsite1.com/">TargetSite1Keywords </A>

< <DT><A HREF="http://www.targetsite2.com/">TargetSite2Keywords </A>

< <DT><A HREF="http://www.targetsite3.com/">TargetSite3Keywords </A>

< <DT><A HREF="http://www.targetsite4.com/">TargetSite4Keywords </A>

...

If you have access to additional URLs, include your list of links to pages you want to rank highly in the search engines at the bottom of one of your "home" pages. Links from your "home" pages to your other sites can help boost the relevancy of those sites. To avoid showing a long list of "Recommended Links" at the bottom of your "home" pages, use the following hidden pixel technique.

Hidden Pixel Links

Use a hidden pixel to add links to key pages clutting your pages.

For example:

<a href="http://www.yoursite.com/targetpage1.html"><img src="pixel.gif" height="1" width="1" border="0"></a>

<a href="http://www.yoursite.com/targetpage2.html"><img src="pixel.gif" height="1" width="1" border="0"></a>

<a href="http://www.yoursite.com/targetpage3.html"><img src="pixel.gif" height="1" width="1" border="0"></a>

All of these link strategies work equally well to help search engines that index your site find your web pages.

Index Pages

One of your goals is to help both viewers and the search engines find your most important pages. It will help to include an additional page on your site which has links to the pages that you want viewers to find and search engines to rank highly. This page is like a second directory or index to your site specifically for the search engines× use. When you submit this page to the engines, the indexed links help increase your target pages, popularity and help search engines that index sites find your pages.

Once you have built this page, rename it "Recommended Links" or something like it, add it to each URL you have access to and submit it to the search engines. Vary the title and content somewhat so the search engines don×t read it as an identical page. Some search engines reject duplicate pages.

Tell the Search Engines When and What to Index

Using a /robots.txt file on your server or a robots Meta tag, you can tell the search engines which pages to index and when. Work with your site host to access your /robots.txt file, if you have one or just use, the easy to write, Meta tags.

The robots Meta tag provides you with the following directions for the search engines.

ALL Indexes the whole page

NONE Not to read the page at all

INDEX Tells the search engine to index the page

NOINDEX Page not to be indexed

FOLLOW Tells the search engine robot to follow all page links to find other pages

NOFOLLOW Not to follow page links

If no Robot Meta tag is included, the search engine defaults to both INDEX and FOLLOW.

Example

<HEAD>

<META HTTP-EQUIV="ROBOTS" CONTENT="robots-terms"INDEX>

</HEAD>

During site testing and optimization tell the robots not to index or follow links on your site. Once your web site is ready for public access, use the above robot commands to tell it which pages to index.

Designing Pages With Tables

Tables are a useful tool for organizing your page layout. The problem with them is that text and keywords that appear at the top of your right hand columns are actually read by the search engines as appearing after the text at the bottom of the previous column. This may reduce your pages relevancy score with the search engines.

Search engines read your page html source code from top to bottom, not the way it appears in your browser. If you use tables or frames in your page design, apply the following strategies to ensure that the search engines find your keywords near the beginning of your html source code.

ΠUse your keywords in your text prior to the <TABLE> tag.

ΠInclude an ALT tag with your keywords

ΠLimit the length of the left hand column so that the search engine sees both the top of the left and right columns as appearing near the beginning of your document.

ΠAdd a line of descriptive, keyword filled, text at the bottom of your tables. Use the "view source" mode to check to see that this summary text appears at or near the top.

Avoid the Pitfalls of Frames

Web pages that use frames are actually composed of a number of pages, including the document frame and left and right frames pages. Most, if not all search engines continue to have difficulty ranking the relevancy of these pages. We recently confirmed this using Excite, Infoseek and Lycos by searching for some of the most frequently searched-for words. No sites that used frames were found near the top.

If you use frames on your site, use separate "front door" or "splash" pages to direct people to your site from the search engines.

Should You Use Redirect Pages?

Some web marketers have used front door or splash pages with a "redirect" to instantly take visitors to their sites. Often these redirect pages have been located at another URL. Some search engines Infoseek don×t like redirect pages and will delete them or index the following page.

The Redirect Page Argument

Search engines ( Infoseek) see redirect pages as a way of tricking the search engine, for example putting your site at the by means of a page which isn×t the one people view in their browsers. While we don×t recommend trying to trick or subvert the search engines there are situations where redirect pages can and should be used.

Webmasters use redirect pages to keep unethical webmasters from stealing top ranking page code and using to illegially boost page rankings. We have had title tags, description tags and entire top ranking pages "borrowed" verbatim and used by other webmasters to boost their own pages, ranking.

Redirects can be used effectively and legitimately in some situations and with the right type of software for search engine placement. In addition, when you×ve moved your site to a new URL or moved part of your site to a new address, it is convenient to send people directly to the new location and avoid having to make visitors click through on their own.

Types of redirects

Two basic types of redirects are used, one that sends you to the new page after a short delay and one that automatically shows a different page in the viewer×s browser.

To refresh the page to another page, use one of the following, depending onwhether you think most of your viewers will have java.

Non-java examples

-----------------------------------

<Applet code="redirect.class" height=1 width=1>

<Param Name=Location Value=http://www.yoursite.com/page.html >

<Param Name=Timeout Value=10>

</Applet>

-----------------------------------

<META HTTP-EQUIV=REFRESH CONTENT="10; URL=http://www.yoursite.com/newpage.html">

Only use this meta redirect internally on your site. Don×t use it with pages you want the search engines to list. Most engines won×t code a page with a meta redirect, instead they will index the following page.

-----------------------------------

Java Example

</BODY>

<script language="JavaScript"><!-- Hide from JavaScript-Impaired Browsers

setTimeout('location.href="http://www.yoursite.com/newpage.html"',10);

// End Hiding --></script>

</HTML>

Note: if you change the redirect time from 10 to 1 or 0, and eliminate graphics and minimize text these pages will just flash on before transferring people to the new page.

Hidden Source Code

If you are intent on hiding your html code from visitors, it is possible to setup your server so that the search engines view one page and people visiting with a browser view another. Doing this manually is a big pain in the neck; it takes three web pages to make one page work. Use of placement software can do this automatically for you.

Keep Banners Clear of Your Text

You×ve worked hard to craft your keyword phrases and place them judiciously in the various parts of your page to increase page relevancy. DON×T throw away all your hard work by putting a banner ad at the top of your page. By doing this you take the chance of having the search engine read the banner ad code before it reads yours.

If you want to use a banner near the top of the page, include your keywords above the banner.

Learn What Works!


Change is the Only Constant

Your ability to learn from top ranking pages is your biggest competitive asset. The search engines are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of their databases and search algorithms in order to provide the best resource to viewers. For example, in the week between the time we wrote the first draft of this report and our second revision, HotBot switched from putting great importance on inclusion of keywords in META tags to not reading them at all. At the time of the third revision Altavista has dramaticaly changed and augmented its search engine.

The best way to beat your competition is to understand what they are doing to achieve a top ranking and do it better!

Learn from Your Competitors

When you are ready to start writing your web pages for a specific search engine, take a look at what the competition did to obtain a top listing. Look at three things; their source code, URLs listed on each engine, and the number of incoming links to your web site.

Study one search engine at a time. Stay focused on each for a day or two until the rules for that particular search engine are clear. Then move on to study another.

Checking URLs Listed and # of Incoming Links

Most of the search engines provide a way for you to count the number of URLs listed by any one site and the number of incoming links. To see what pages are listed for any URL in Infoseek and AltaVista just use the following search terms; "url:petfood.com" and for counting incoming links; "link:petfood.com". Or use www.linkpopularity.com to count your incoming links and see who is linking to your competitors.

Viewing Competitors× Source Code

The first step is to run a search using your target keywords. Look at the top five to ten listings that come up on the results page. Usually the most useful pages have been submitted within the last month or two; check the submission dates. If possible, select a listing that has a file size of 1.2k to 10k. The larger it is, the harder it is to figure out what is going on.

Before you analyze your competitor×s source code, make sure the web page you are viewing is actually the page used in the search engine submission process. Some search engines (Excite) regularly revisit your web site and analyze your pages. Other engines (Infoseek) only index your pages when you or someone else submits it. This means that it is possible to have Infoseek index one page and then when the page is ranked, to swap in another page with the same URL. Take the following steps to weed out these "fake" pages.

URLs that end with ".shtml" use hidden source code; what you see is not the source code the search engine reads. If the page is an index page and you want to double check that its not a fake, type in "index.html" or "index.html" If you can×t find either of these pages butthe page does show for "/index.shtml" the page may be using hidden source code which is different from what you can view in your browser. Note that some page counters require an .shtml ending.

Some people use re-direct software to push your browser to their target page via a hidden page that lists their page with the search engines. Identify these hidden pages by clicking on a listing and then comparing the URL that appears with the one in the search engine listing. For example, f the listing in Infoseek has the url "www. bettcha.com/investor/onlinetrading.html" and when you click on this you end up at "www.moneylines.com/pockets.html",

you know that re-direct sofware is in use.

To double check competitors× listings use two browser windows side by side, one for the search engine and one to view competitor pages. This way you can view the search engine listing, web page date, title and description on one side of your monitor×s screen while viewing the top listed page on the other side.

Once your competitor×s page has loaded, use your browser to "view info" and check to see that the page date matches the submission date in the search engine. If these dates don×t match, chances are the page has been changed since it was submitted to the search engine. Next, use your browser to view the source code of your competitor×s page. Check carefully to see that their page title and meta description (if used) match that shown in the search engine. If they vary, you know you×re not looking at the true source code.

When you×ve found a "real" page that gets a top listing for one of your keywords search for some of the other apparent keywords in the page. If the listing keeps coming up at the top, you×ve found a well written page. Take the time to look at the location of the keywords in the document and the page×s keyword density. Similar usage of keywords should help your pages too. Save the page code in a file for that individual search engine and use it as a model when building your pages.

Do Your Own Research

As you become more familiar with a particular search engine you may find idiosyncrasies that are not included in this guide or that differ from our findings. For example you can test a search engine×s sensitivity to plural words or capital letters by conducting just two searches. Open two browser windows side-by-side on your monitor and run one search using the singular, and one the plural version of a word. When both searches appear, compare the results. If both are the same, the search engine isn×t plural sensitive; if they are different, than it is and you need to include both singular and plural versions of your keywords. Case sensitivity can be tested in a similar fashion.

Look at the pages listed above yours often. Try to determine what they are doing differently than you. In some cases it may not be in their source code, but the number of incoming links that pushes their page to the top.

Track Your Page Rankings

After you have done your research, carefully written your pages, submitted them to the search engines, and waited the two days to one month it takes to get listed, check your listing×s ranking. Keep a list of your keywords and the URLs for each page you submitted, the search engine submitted to and the date. This way you can track which pages are working where. For example:

keywords engine date url

pet food Infoseek 8/17/98 www.petfood.com/dog_I.html

Specific Requirements of the Search Engines


If you×re like us, you skipped right to this page to get the inside scoop on what works. Go back and read the earlier chapters in order to fully understand the concepts used here and to effectively implement the following strategies.

Develop a Marketing Strategy for the Search Engines

Most businesses have a marketing strategy, differentiated along customer and or product lines. On the internet it is important to develop a web marketing strategy that is both customer focused and differentiated by search engine. What you show engine each should be tailored to its needs. Traditional sales people vary their clothes depending on whether they are calling on IBM or Ben & Jerrys. Similarly, web pages code needs to be tailored to the individual search engines.

If It Ain×t Broke, Don×t Fix It

If you have a page that currently is or has been ranked highly in any of the search engines, leave it on your server unchanged. Particularly with Infoseek, pages that were ranked at the top for months may disappear, only to reappear weeks or months later. Update pages if neccessary, otherwise leave top ranking pages alone.

Yahoo


www.yahoo.com

3400 Central Expressway #201

Santa Clara, CA 95051

Phone: 408-731-3301

Directory

To Submit: Use add URL "suggest a site" button in relevant category

Suggest a Site Guide: http://www.yahoo.com/info/suggest/

Submission Time: 2-6 weeks

Listing Support: 408-731-3333

Review

Yahoo receives approximately 70 million visitors a month, making it the leading source of referrals to web sites of any of the search engines and directories. Yahoo gets as much traffic as Excite and Infoseek combined. Given the traffic dominance that Yahoo has and is likely to maintain, understanding Yahoo and getting your site listed in Yahoo should be one of your top priorities.

Why is Yahoo so popular? Because it is the easiest way to find information on the web, particularly categories of sites. Yahoo is a directory, not a search engine so viewers can look up information within categories. Using Yahoo a search for online brokers results in an alphabetical listings of all the online brokers home pages. Using a search engine (Excite or Infoseek) results in a seemingly randomly orgranized list of pages that contain the words "online brokers" regardless of their importance as sites or pages from a site.

At Yahoo people ensure that sites are listed appropriately and only valid sites are listed and generally only home pages. In the search engines like Excite and Infoseek, a search is subject to the particular algorithms of the engines. The effectiveness of the search depends on how well the pages match the search engines× criteria, regardless of the actual real life relevancy of page and site content.

Start Your Placement Efforts Here

Yahoo is the place to initially focus your efforts, dispite the difficulty of getting a site listed. Once you×ve submitted your site(s) to Yahoo, continue to list your pages with the other search engines, despite their inherent problems, because many people still use them. Depending on the specificity of your search, Yahoo×s categories can be cumbersome and if you find yourself wading through category upon sub-category, some of the engines actually can help you find a specific page faster than Yahoo.

Getting A Top Listing In Yahoo

Yahoo is a directory, not a search engine. In the search engines, your objective is to have your individual web page appear at the top for a given set of keywords. In Yahoo, your objective is to have your web site at the top for your keywords within the appropriate directory subject categories. Making your site easy for customers to find in Yahoo is simpler than most people realize.

Unlike the search engines that sort pages based on keyword density and/ or prominence and popularity, Yahoo sorts sites only based on a subject category, the name of your company and a site description as edited by Yahoo. For the most part, Yahoo indexes web sites and not individual pages, with the exceptions noted below.

1. Select the right categories

The first step is to identify the category or categories (a maximum of two) under which your site should be submitted. Start by searching under your keywords, say "pet food" and then conduct a couple of searches for your competitors× sites, for example "purina". Use the results to identify the category where customers are most likely to look for your site. By carefully selecting the category appropriate for your site, when potential customers use Yahoo they can find you by looking through that category in case they don×t find you when they search by keywords. Don×t try to submit your site to non-applicable subject categories just to get additional exposure. Yahoo will reject these submissions.

Another strategy for getting listed in Yahoo is to submit your site to Yahoo×s regional directories (http://www.yahoo.com/Regional/) On the other hand, placement in a regional directory may do you more harm than good. Where would you prefer people find your site, under "pets" or under the regional Yahoo, "California/ pets"? Use Yahoo×s regional sites when you think they will show at the top of searches or if they target specific customers. To get additional exposure list your site in the regional Yahoos as well as two categories in Yahoo.

2. Script a title( company name) that describes your site

Within categories, Yahoo indexes your site based on your company name (limit to 40 characters) and description (limit to 200 characters or 25 words) that you provide. If your pet food company×s name is "Zot-Dot, Inc." submitting your site using your company name can cause problems. If instead you submit your site under the name of one of your products along with a few descriptive keywords, say "Allstar Pet Foods for Cats, Dogs and Housepets" your listing will be found not only within subject categories but by the keywords, "pet, foods, cats, dogs, housepets."

Make sure the name you submit is the same as the one that appears on your site. Yahoo×s site reviews, know as Yahooligans, use the company name from your web site in the listing they create for you.

Using this approach we achieved a top listing for a guide to meeting management we publish. Its listed under the title, "76 Secrets of Better Problem Solving and Decision Making Meetings." Regardless of whether you search using the keywords, "Better Meetings", "Problem Solving", or "Decision Making" it shows at the top.

Use the same descriptive title as the first part of your 25 word site description. In addition you×ll want to include your keywords one or two times in this description while being careful to avoid marketing hype. Remember, don×t try submitting just a splash page to Yahoo with a refresh to another site. Yahoo has a savvy web Yahooligan check sites listed in its index to ensure that they include valid and significant content. Don×t have your site rejected by Yahoo by doing silly stuff like, stacking your title or including tons of hidden text, etc.

3. Use a separate URL or directory if you need to

If your site is focused on one particular product or service, skip to step 4. If you market or sell more than one product or service on the web, making it easy for people to find all of these in Yahoo requires additional work.

If you want Yahoo to index individual products or services, you can do so using separate directories and/or URLs. As a rule, Yahoo prefers index pages. First identify the individual products and services you market. Then create separate descriptive "company names" or titles for each. Next create an index page for each within your existing site or using individual URLs.

If you submit multiple directories or URLs to Yahoo, be careful not to confuse them by using the same contact information; use different contact information consistent with each URL and directory and company name.

You may want to include your keywords in the new URL. For example, submit your site using the URL "www.cats-dogs_pet_food.com" Whether this makes any difference to Yahoo is inconclusive at this point, but it doesn×t hurt.

4. Manually submit your site

Automatic search engine submission programs provide highly dubious results and its best to manually submit your sites to Yahoo.

5. No category available?

What happens when you can×t find an appropriate subject category in Yahoo for your site? In the past, Yahoo defaulted to AltaVista×s database. Currently Yahoo is using Inktomi as the default search engine. To make sure your site show in Inktomi×s database submit your site to HotBot at www.hotbot.com. Inktomi is the search engine that powers HotBot. (See the listing tips provided in the chapter on HotBot.) An alternative to figuring out how to get a top listing in Inktomi is to suggest a new subject category to Yahoo. If they agree that it is a good idea, your site will be the first in it.

To Change Listings

From time to time you will want to update your web pages in order to keep your site current. Search engines that spider your site (Excite) will automatically pick up these changes when they update their database on a monthly basis. With other engines (Infoseek) you can resubmit your page and it should be updated within a week or two. At Yahoo you are responsible for letting them know of any changes to your listing information.

Getting your listing information changed at Yahoo is a three-step process. First review your existing listing in Yahoo and rewrite it as you would like to see it and in a way that you think will be acceptable to the Yahooligans. Yahoo is looking for Title, Description and Location. Next, submit it at http://add.yahoo.com/fast/change . If you want the change made ASAP, call; 408-731-3300, Yahoo×s advertising number and leave a mesage including your URL, the date you submitted your changes and your request that they update the listing.

Other Search Engines


Many of the search engines change the way their algorithms sort pages on a regular basis. Fortunately this has slowed in recent months. The best source for tracking the current requirements of individual search engines is Planet Ocean's at http://www.searchengine-news.com/.

How to Get Kicked Out of the Game


Break the Density or Repetition Rules

Repeating your keywords over and over in any one HTML and META tag doesn×t impress most of the search engines. They will ignore words used more than five to seven times in any one tag or portion of your page, and will either ignore the tag or not list the page at all. This is the quickest way to insure your page will never be found. We took a page from one of our sites that was receiving frequent visits and overloaded the META tag by repeating our keywords thirty and forty times. Within a few days, visits to that page diminished dramatically and it disappeared into the depths of the search engines.

Use the Old Switcheroo Trick

Some people think it makes sense to "borrow" others× source code, change the title and description and submit it to Infoseek as their own. Once the page is ranked, they switch in another page of their own. Besides being unethical and illegal, this strategy is just plain stupid. Anyone else can resubmit a competitor×s page that looks to be of dubious origin and attempt to have it re-indexed, which will push it to the bottom.

Infoseek welcomes suggestions of pages and sites that are trying to subvert their index and regularly deletes these pages and URLs. Don×t "borrow" competitors× pages. Instead, study them and figure out what they are doing. Then do it better.

Include Unrelated Words

Including high traffic keywords like "sex" or "money" which may be unrelated to your page content is a bad idea. Some search engines will delete your page for this type of tomfoolery. Develop content that is customer-focused and includes your keywords.

Submit Multiple Variations of the Same Page

If you succeed in getting a top listing for one of your pages, don×t be tempted to submit slightly modified versions of the same page over and over in an attempt to get all top 10 listing spots on any one search engine. Most search engines now group similar listings from the same domain so only one of your listings will appear. Secondly, search engines like Infoseek look for common code and often won×t accept pages that appear to be similar in content. They may delete all listings from the offending domain.

A better strategy is to submit your page. Check its ranking a day or two later, make any improvements and resubmit it. Don×t try to sneak around the page submission rule by renaming your page and submitting it to the search engines.

Page Building Overview


Summary Checklist

  1. Select the right keywords.
  2. Focus each page on an individual keyword or keyword phrase, including well written page descriptions.
  3. Use your keywords in the TITLE, BODY, domain name, page URL and in link references.
  4. Provide visitors with well written, compelling and content rich text, particularly in the page title and description tag or first few lines.
  5. Optimize each page according to individual search engine requirements. Check keyword density and the number of repetitions as indicated.
  6. Build individual front door pages for each target keyword and/or phrase, varyind the content of each page accordingly.
  7. Include meta tags for the few engines that read them.
  8. Include links to other key pages on your site and on other site you have access to.
  9. Manually submit your pages to the search engines or use a sophisticated software program which monitors submissions by keyword, page name, submission date and ranking in the search engine.
  10. Make improvements to your page text and resubmit.

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