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Thread: Top ranking on search engines
02-02-2004, 07:12 PM #1OblivexGuest
Top ranking on search engines
Top ranking on search engines
By Oblivex Inc – www.oblivex.com
There are lots of companies and sites that claim they can get you a good search engine ranking – but is this really true? Please take the time to read over this report on the secrets of search engine ranking.
How can you make your website a success? Everyone has his or her own opinion. Some say design is everything, and give you lists of rules to follow – make the site look visually appealing; every page should be accessible within two clicks; don’t use too many graphics; and avoid frames, (Or don’t avoid them, depending on who is giving the advice). Others say content is king, if you’re covering a topic that interests people, and your site is updated regularly, then visitors wont care whether you use a fancy DHTML menu or not.
Both points of view are valid, but they’re missing a crucial point: if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. No matter how perfect the design or compelling the content, if you site doesn’t appear in the search engine then you’re not going to see many visitors, which would be a shame. The solution? Well, you could try some of the more outrageous ways to get your site noticed, from projecting your URL on to the side of a building to streaking at a major even. Alternatively you could stick to a more traditional route and visit the major search engines. Most have a Submit Site link somewhere; just fill in a form and your pages should be indexed. But don’t hold your breath, this could take some time.
But then you may come across one of the many search engines submission sites, and they seem to be promising something much better. This starts with ease of use. Fill in one form, and they submit to hundreds of different search engines on your behalf.
Sign up with some of these companies and they’ll even resubmit your entry every few months. Other benefits range from tools designed to help optimise your site for the search engines, to page ranking checks that will show how you compare to your competitors. Excellent – if it works. But with so many sites making big promises, how do you know whom to trust? We decided there was only one way to find out….
The idea was simple. We would create a site, upload it to eight different URLS, then use a separate submission tools on each one. And then it would just be a matter of watching the search engines, to see which of our pages turned up first. It sounded easy, but the reality proved a little more complex.
Our first issue was deciding where to place our sites. We didn’t want to simply use free space somewhere, as it is possible that some search engines may then be less than eager to index our pages. Instead we opted to register eight dot-com addresses, courtesy of 1&1 Internet Ltd. This proved to be very convenient, as all eight sites could be managed from a single control panel. But what would we host on our shiny new domains? A business site seemed the best idea and that’s just what Dreamweaver helped us produce. Soon, we had pages packed with bold claims regarding our fictitious company’s abilities in the fields of design, consultancy and public relations (in no way affiliated with our PR marketing company, OBLIVEX INC). Our site was soon running as it should with working links from page to page but that’s not enough for the submission tools. We have one more crucial step to complete.
The whole point of most site submission tools is to save you time, by automatically completing the various manual “suggest a site” forms at each search engine. They need information about the page first, though, and in some cases this requires that you have a couple of Meta tags in the index page HTML code. The first, keywords, should include words that describe the topics your site is covering. So for a site like ours, we could use something along these lines (only in the real world, more keywords may be better).
content=”consultancy, design, public relations, pr”>
Note that, despite what you can read all over the web, the keywords you choose here will not help you get a better search engine ranking. Virtually everyone ignores this tag completely, so it has no effect at all. The only reason to include them here is that some submission tools require this tag to be present.
More useful is the description Meta tag. This is intended to be used as a quick description of the site, ideally around 60 words (although you may be able to use up to 200). It’s important that the description includes your most significant keywords, so don’t be too vague. Our fictional company had a description like this:
<META name=”description” content=”We’re the worlds number one Internet consultancy, design and public relations company. Top corporations use our services, and we’re the power behind just about every brand-name product around. And now our unique knowledge and experience is available to you.”>
Finally, think carefully about the title of your main index page. There are several rules to consider. First don’t be to vague, as this is the first page most people will see, it may seem a good idea to use welcome or home as the title, but that wont help the search engines rank your site. Our past experiences show that it is slightly better to include your company name and a company motto if you have one:
Oblivex Inc ¦ our business is to make your business succeed
Second, don’t rely completely on just your company name and motto in the title. Unless you’re extremely famous, most people will be searching for the goods, services or content you have on offer, and not for you by name. So don’t use something bland like McLaurin Online, when you could run with Organic chocolate from the Highlands of Scotland instead. And third, don’t try to cheat the system. The keywords in your title need to appear in your main index page, too, if you’re going to be ranked highly for them. Rewrite your main body text, if necessary, to make sure it includes the most important keywords for the site.
Winners. And losers?
When we were planning this report, we weren’t entirely sure how to present you with the final results. A table, perhaps, showing when the first URL submitted by each tool finally appeared? A graph? But in reality, we don’t need anything quite so complex. Here’s why.
In first place, somewhat surprisingly, was Submit Express (www.submit-express.com). It doesn’t ask for money, or indeed anything at all, but it still managed to get our site listed on Google, Yahoo! (And a few other search engines) within a few weeks.
In second place came our manual submission to Google. We’re not quite sure how Submit Express managed to beat that, as it essentially uses the same form (only controlled automatically), but it did – at least on this occasion.
And after that, came…no one at all. All our other websites and applications (including one where we paid out real money) failed to get us a single major search engine listing, anywhere, which, in a real like situation, is going to be very disappointing indeed. So why did we have so little success?
There are several possibilities. Perhaps our choice of keywords and description didn’t work for some search engines (although we still managed listings at Google and Yahoo!). Maybe the 11-week monitoring period was too short, and some of our sites could perhaps still appear even although this report was commenced nearly 1 year ago. And in all fairness, our choice of a business site may also have affected how our submission was processed by the search engines (you could perhaps have more luck with a personal page).
One test cannot prove our other submission tools don’t work, of course, but it does illustrate the difficulties involved in getting yourself listed. And we thing there are some important lessons to be learnt. Nothing is guaranteed. However we did not try all of our tricks and in all honestly $59 is not a lot to spend on marketing, we would recommend a minimum marketing budget of $200.
Most submission tools sell themselves on sheer numbers, sometimes claiming they can get you listed in thousands of search engines. That’s fine, but exactly how much traffic is (lets say) the five-hundredth most popular site on that list going to generate?
In reality, there are only a few search engines that matter. Get yourself listed at Google, Yahoo!, Dmoz (www.dmoz.org) and your laughing. So if you really care about results (perhaps you are running an online business), then take the time to manually submit your site or employ a marketing company.