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Getting Indexed Right on Search Engines
What Should I Do to Make My Site Hot?
Search engines look for specific things. Submit-it.com, SearchEngineWatch, and SearchTools.com maintain good solid guides to making your site index well. Altavista's Basic Search Help also gives you a good inside feel for how many search engines work. Then, check out selfpromotion.com's article on indexing pitfalls.
Get a Plan
More generally, you should develope a site marketing plan. You can find good articles on this at Submit-it.com, Internet Marketing Center and WebCom. The Standard has a good article covering the approaches taken by porn websites. What's interesting is that the tactics taken by those sites can be applied to almost any website.
Which Search Engines Are Most Popular
You really only need to get indexed on the top sites to get the vast majority of the impact you're going to get. Google and Yahoo or two of the biggest. There are several places to get a handle on which sites those are. StatMarket, SearchEngineWatch.com and SelfPromotion.com all have useful information on the top search engines. Be warned, this information can be out of date. Google.com is currently the darling of the technical set, but doesn't show up on StatMarket, for instance.
Meta Tags, ugh!
Meta tags are hidden away in the top of many webpages (including this one) between the <head> and </head> tags. If you choose 'view source' or 'page source' from your browser's view menu, you'll see a bunch of lines that begin <meta. Go ahead, I'll wait. Those tags are one of the key things search engines use to figure out when to pop up your page in their search results.
Title Tag (<title>My Sites Name</title>) is the name that's normally saved when you bookmark a page/add it to your favorites. It's also the name that shows up in search engines, so it pays to put some thought into it. Some people think it is useful to include your favorite keywords in your title (preferably at the start) as the title carries a lot of weight for many search engines.
Getting back to actual meta tags... All Meta tags follow the same basic format. The only thing that changes is the portion inside the quotes in this example. <META NAME="TagName" CONTENT="TagValue">
Below, the bold text has the TagName. In most cases, there's a colon and then an example TagValue.
Description: links to silly stuff -- A description of your webpage. This is the same description people see when your page appears in their search results. The more descriptive and enticing you can make it the better. Your main keywords should be in this tag.
Abstract: short description -- Abstract is an brief summary of the description. It adds a generalization of your website into your page's headers which helps the search engine.
Keywords: silly, fun -- A short list (seperated by commas) of words and terms you want to found under. Don't repeat keywords more than twice in this tag because some search engines consider it spamming.
Author: John Smith -- The person or company that created the page
Robots -- a tag to tell a search engine how to handle your site:
index -- add the site noindex -- don't add the site follow -- follow links on the page nofollow -- ignore links on the page
Copyright: This page copyright 2002, The Data Wranglers -- your copyright notice
Revisit-After: 7 days -- is not really useful for search engines --they'll revisit whenever they get good and ready-- but it tells proxy servers when to come back and re-cache your page.
Refresh: 5; aDifferentUrl.html -- the browser will wait a number of seconds (5 in this case) and then load the page (in this case aDifferentUrl.html)
Expires: 15 -- tells web browsers how many days to cache your page. You can set it to 0 if your page changes constantly.
Rating -- A rating (much like G or PG for movies) for your website. It can be set to general, 14 years, restricted or mature.
<META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="fun, humor, hoo-wah!"> <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="index,follow"> <META NAME="copyright" CONTENT="(c) 2003, me!">
If all of that code gets you cross eyes, this site and this one and A Dictionary of meta tags this one will build meta tags for you. There's also A Dictionary of meta tags. If you just like reading more about meta tags (you are twisted, arn't you?), check out stars.com and SearchEngineWatch.
A sneaky trick that tends to work is to also hide those keywords that describe your site at the bottom of your main page. If you have a framed site, add a hidden frame and put them in there. If you've got a non-framed site, just make them invisible. For instance, set them in a color that's the same as your background: <FONT COLOR="WHITE">keywords keyword</font>.
On a quick tangent, a nifty bit of marketing is to use a Favicon. Some browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Netscape 7+, Safari, etc) put an icon next to some bookmark (like google, yahoo or us). That icon --called a favicon-- is typically called "favicon.ico" and stored in the top level of your website. You can create one with Graphic Converter (Mac OS X/Classic) or Microangelo (Windows). It's best to resize your image to 16x16 pixels before saving. Otherwise, many browsers will not recognize it or will mangle. Once you create it, if it doesn't seem to work, you'll need to add a tag to the head section of your website: <link rel="Shortcut Icon" type="image/ico" HREF="path_to_my/favicon.ico"> A basic tutorial is available at Web Developers Journal and more information is available at favicon.com.
Once you've done the work to get your site ready for the indexes, it's time to talk to them. You could go to each manually, but it's a pain and doesn't gain you much. In general, the only site you want to submit to seperately is Yahoo. More on that later.
If you really feel the need to manually submit your site to search engines, this site maintains links to some of the key search engines. Warning, it's somewhat out of date.
If you're more technically inclined, several locations have scripts or software you can download and install and be your very own free url submision service. Page Cast seems to be one of the better ones.
There are any number of sites that will submit your site for free to lots of sites. In particular, check out SelfPromotion.com. Several sites list other url submission services: FreeSources.com and FreeLinks.org are two good ones.
It's getting more and more critical to have other sites link to yours. Not so much for the direct click throughs, but because search engines like Google use the number of links to your site as a measure of how good it is. More links means better means a higher location in the ratings. LinkExchange is a good starting point in this battle.
But, don't forget friends, people who compliment you on your website, business partners and so on. It they value you or what you do for them, they'll often provide a link to your site.
But, you want to provide banners and other graphics so that people who just stumble on your site can also link to you. You'll want to create at least a 468 x 60 (pixel) banner and several smaller sizes. Other standard sizes: 120 x 240 (vertical banner), 120 x 90 (button 1), 120 x 60 (button 2), 125 x 125 (square button), 88 x 31 (micro button). The IAB has a full list of standard sizes with samples. It's best to include the code to make the link work. Make sure you include an example for just a text link. Examples for this purpose: Boot Nail, http://www.123promote.com/workbook/link.htm (appears to be defunct), reals.com and SingSeek
There's a good article over at Byte on measuring how many people have Linked to You.
See the Numbers Rise
You may also want to start looking at where all this traffic is coming from, how much is hitting your site and so on. If someone else is hosting your site, they probably already provide that information. If you host your own, there are a number of good tools to analyze your site's traffic. Two ones we like for Linux and other *nixes are WebLog and, for more esoteric analysis, WebVisit
Want to know more?
If you're looking for more technical information on how search engines work, one of the key tools of the search engines is what's called a web robot. Check out The Web Robots Pages for more information.
But, I'm just looking for a Good Search Engine
You ended up here by mistake? Just looking for a good search engine? First, check out Google, Yahoo, All the Web, DMOZ. They are rather different and one or the other should be able to handle almost any search you need. Google and All the Web are general search engines. Google tends to be the better tool. Yahoo and DMOZ categorize their links. Yahoo has a paid staff. DMOZ is organized by people out on the internet like you.
Once you've exhausted those, there are any number of sites that index the indexes. You might try The spider's Apprentice or All Search Engines or Beaucoup. We maintain a list of the sites that have indexed us. Lycos tracks the top 50 search terms.
If you want some pointers on the differences between the major engines and how to best use them, start with this comparison. Search Engine Showdown seems to provide the best summaries. They also provide search engine news, reviews, listing of multi-search engines and more. A good starting point in learning about search engines. Browsing and Searching Internet Resources is not nearly is flashy and is mostly presented as one long document. But, it is kept current and provides another voice. And the bush library at Hamline University maintains a nice list of additional resources about various search engines and how to use them.
Specialty Link Lists and Search Engines
Poetry and Arts
Poetry.com indexes poetry sites. We'd take their contests with a grain of salt, but they've got a great domain name.