The number of search engines in the world continually changes from month to month as companies rise, fall and merge with other search engines. This has been the norm since the first search engine Aliweb came on the scene in 1993. Many search engines have come and gone and come again since then leaving in their wake a very complicated and bewildering landscape for Web site marketers to navigate. The good news is, even though there are hundreds of search engines out there, you only need to be concerned with a hand full of them in order to be successful. Here are some quick tips on creating a successful search engine optimization (SEO) plan.
First of all, many people get confused between paid placements and organic or natural placements. Paid placements are (as the term implies) placements in search engines that get ranked based upon how much is paid for the keyword. The paid placements in the major search engines are very distinguishable from the organic listings. Paid placements in Google appear along the top (usually 3 or 4 listings) and then along the far right side of the page. The organic listings appear in the body of the page. Other major search engines use a similar approach. A paid listing does not displace or affect the organic listings. In other words, you cannot pay Google to have a top ten organic listing. Organic listings are the results of the search engine’s efforts to index the Web and return those results based upon what the search engine creators think are most relevant. How exactly the search engines do that is a closely guarded secret by every search engine. If their indexing methods were public knowledge, people would manipulate the methods to not only secure top positions for their sites but to also block other sites. Theses techniques are known as “spamming the search engine”, and it is a continual problem for search engines. The punishments for spamming are very severe and will usually cause your site (domain) to be blocked and not listed at all.
Getting organic listings is free with most search engines and many will index your site without your knowledge. The search engines accomplish this by sending out what they call a “spider” whose only mission is to find Web sites and send the indexing details back to home base. If you have pages on your site you don’t want indexed or that you don’t want to show up in search engine results, you can place the following meta tag on your page, which will be effective with most search engines but not all.
<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW">
While there are many search engines that will find your site, you don’t want to leave your search engine placements to chance when it comes to the top five largest search engines since they account for about 80% of all searching on the Internet. Depending upon what language your site is in, the top five search engines are:
If your site is multilingual (especially Chinese and Korean) the top five are:
3. Baidu (most popular Chinese search engine)
5. NHN (most popular Korean search engine)
The rules of indexing are a little different for each search engine so it is therefore very important to submit pages that have been optimized just for that specific engine. This requires extra time and patience to get right. Keep in mind that search engine optimization is an everyday effort, not a hit and run. Once you’ve made your initial submission to each search engine, test your ranking regularly. Since search engines get tens of thousands of submissions daily, your rank can change dramatically daily especially if you are in a competitive industry.
The easiest way to find out how to adjust your home page so that it will get ranked higher in a search engine is to study the Web sites who already have top rankings. When studying your competitor’s web pages, pay special attention to the copy and the title of the home page. Most search engines rank higher if the searched keyword is contained in the body of the Web page, but having the keyword too many times on a page can hurt you (keyword spam). Also make sure that all your image tags have the Alt=”” attribute, and place relevant words and phrases there. Lastly, and the most important for Google is links to your site. Google will give your site a higher rank based upon how many other sites link to yours. This gets a little tricky since most people list their sites with Google in order to get links to their site. Start with your friends and suppliers and negotiate links with them. Most sites will share links if you will in like manner provide a link back to them. Do searches on your industry in general and look for industry organizations and such that might be a good source for link exchanges. Another really great place to solicit links is to search for blogs that deal with your industry. Contact the blog owner and request reciprocal links. Stay away from paid linking services and links to your site that are unrelated to your business, such links could be considered as spamming behavior by the search engine (see http://www.westhost.com/blog/2007/11/paid-linking-takes-a-hit/ for more information).
Keep in mind that some search engines take up to 3 weeks for an initial submission to show up in their listings. Don’t be afraid to submit often. Search engine’s love new submissions since it implies that its indexing information is up to date and it saves their spider the time and effort to index your site on its own.
Finally, remember that a good SEO strategy is a continual work in progress and is like a good investment portfolio. You start with what you have and grow it over time.