Intro to Search Engines

Intro to Search Engines; LookSmart and Excite

Subject Line: TWM Release #15: Intro to Search Engines; LookSmart and Excite

CONTENTS IN THIS ISSUE:
1. Editor’s Remarks
2. Getting Ranks in the Search Engines – Part I
a) Introduction to SE Positioning
b) Inbreeding in the Engines
c) LookSmart
d) Excite
3. What’s New at The Write Market
4. Get Your Ad in TWM’s Release!
5. Administrative Information

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SPONSOR MESSAGE

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EDITOR’S REMARKS

Welcome all new subscribers!

If you have questions or answers related to SE positioning or any marketing or promotion advice, visit our discussion board:
http://www.thewritemarket.com/discus/

This month, we are starting a new tutorial on search engine positioning. This tutorial will go on for the next 6 months.

SE = Search Engine
SEO = Search Engine Optimization

We will start out with an introduction to SE positioning and advice about LookSmart and Excite. Next month look forward to articles on “doorway pages” or optimizing for a specific engine. We will continue to cover the 20 or so most popular engines and directories.

We’re not going to teach you how to become a search engine optimization specialist. The point of our tutorial is to help get you listed in several places.

Write on,
Renee Kennedy
[email protected]

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INTRODUCTION TO SEARCH ENGINE POSITIONING
by Renee Kennedy

If you have a website, it’s a given that you need to be in the engines and directories. Search engines and directories are where people go to find out what’s on the internet.

To understand the terms that we will discuss during the next six months, please read:
http://www.thewritemarket.com/search/spiders.htm
Want even more terms? Look at this:
http://www.cadenza.org/search_engine_terms/index.htm

A quick review of the difference between search engines and directories:
1. A search engine is a “machine” that indexes pages in a database. Your job, is to submit your pages to the database so that the search engine spider can find your pages and the search engine can rank your pages.
2. A directory is compiled by humans. Your job is to submit your site to the humans so that they can examine your site and include you in the appropriate “category”.

In many instances, directories and search engines are “related”. (More about that in the article, “Inbreeding”.)

If you’re just starting out in SE optimization you’re going to hear a lot about spamming, cloaking, redirecting or tricking the engines. My advice is DON’T DO IT. The purpose of this tutorial is to help you get ranks and stay in the engines. As SE technology develops, the engines get smarter. They can weed out the spam from the real content. I’m going to give you some good, solid advice – advice that you can use for a long time to come. It may not be the fastest way to fame and fortune. But it’s safe and it’s solid.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN OPTIMIZING – you should try to do the following things:

1. Ensure that your site has proper navigation. The search engines need to be able to follow your links, just like a real person visiting your site. Sometimes, what distinguishes one site from another is simply organization. An article on navigation:
http://www.thewritemarket.com/mcnn/stinnett.shtml

2. You need your own domain name. Search engines and especially directories are going to be more likely to index the root domain than subdirectories. Your own domain name is imperative. An article on hosting and domain names:
http://www.thewritemarket.com/articles/hosting.shtml

3. Professional, attractive design – another must. When you submit to directories, humans are going to visit your site and decide its worth. Here are a few articles on that:
http://www.thewritemarket.com/mcnn/kent.shtml
http://www.thewritemarket.com/promotion/sitedesign.htm

4. How many times have I said it? Content is King. Content is King. Content is King. All search engines, directories or otherwise are going to index your website based on CONTENT. ALL of them. This is the KEY to getting your site well known around the internet. Because:
a. You build a reputation with content.
b. You find specific content to attract visitors. Stay in your niche – become one of the best sites in your niche by providing specific, original content.
c. You will get other sites linking to you if you have original content. (We will discuss reciprocal linking and how it helps you in the search engines in future issues.)

With these four things under your belt, you are ready to start optimizing your content rich pages for the search engines.

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INBREEDING IN THE ENGINES
by Renee Kennedy

They’re all related. It’s true, you can’t get away from it. Somehow each directory or search engine will use results from other search engines or directories. I will try to explain the relationships as they stand today. However, tomorrow, they could change.

Does it matter that you know all of these affiliations? Not really. My best advice is, if it is confusing, don’t worry about it. You can still optimize and submit your pages to the search engines, you can submit your home page or content specific pages to every directory and not be penalized – we will explain more about submitting when we discuss each specific directory and engine (because even though they’re related, they all have different rules.)

Here’s what I see today. (I’m only giving you the big ones, there are many other small ones and I’ve probably missed some of the relationships.):

LookSmart (directory) www.looksmart.com
feeds the queries at MSN, Excite, CNN, Time Warner, and AltaVista.

ODP or Open Directory Project (directory) www.dmoz.org
feeds the queries of Netscape (Netscape basically “owns” ODP), AOL, AltaVista, Google, Lycos, Hotbot, and countless others.

Snap (directory) www.snap.com
feeds NBC and family of NBC sites.

Go (directory) www.go.com
feeds Infoseek, ABC family of sites, ESPN, Disney.

Direct Hit (search engine) www.directhit.com
provides a database for itself, Hotbot, Lycos, LookSmart, MSN, AOL, Infoseek, and many more.

Inktomi (search engine) submit through www.hotbot.com
provides a database for Yahoo!, LookSmart, AOL, Hotbot, [email protected], NBC Snap, and a lot more!

Infoseek (search engine) www.infoseek.com
provides a database for Go, ABC, ABCnews, ESPN, Disney

Google (search engine) www.google.com
provides a database for itself and Yahoo!

AltaVista (search engine) www.altavista.com
provides a database for itself (owned by Compaq) and AltaVista family of sites

Northern Light (search engine) www.northernlight.com
provides database for itself and many affiliations with smaller companies.

Excite (search engine) www.excite.com
provides a database for itself, Magellan, and Webcrawler

Fast (search engine) www.alltheweb.com
provides a database for Lycos, Fast or “AllTheWeb” is a new one so look for this engine to partner with others in the future.

Now you can see that some of these overlap. However, just because HotBot and LookSmart both take information from the Inktomi database, that does not mean that they rank that information in the same way.

Why do they all interrelate? Because, every search site wants to have the freshest data on the net. Some of them compete for the “biggest” index of sites on the net. If they take from different sources, it helps them to maintain a fresh database and a large one.

Another important thing to remember: it is a safe assumption that a surfer will find a particular search engine and stick with it. They learn how to use it; they become familiar with it. The interrelations between search engines and directories does not matter to the average surfer. The average surfer wants fresh content.

It is also possible that a surfer would like to go to an engine and get different content every time. AltaVista rotates algorithms. This means that today you may type in a keyword and bring up a specific set of websites. Then, tomorrow, you can type in the same keyword and bring up a totally different set of results.

This brings me again to the point that you cannot worry too much about what the search engines are doing. It is more to your advantage to create content rich pages, that focus on one or two particular keywords and submit these pages to each search engine.

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LOOKSMART

LookSmart is one of the most important directories to get a listing in. LookSmart feeds the directories at Excite, [email protected] (the home page for people on a cable modem) MSN, CNN and Time Warner. According to Media Metrix nearly 74 percent of US Web users go to these engines for information.

That’s the hype. Not sure I agree with it, but then our listing in LookSmart is miniscule, so I suppose if we had more listings, or a better listing we might see some traffic from the above listed places.

How do you get a listing in LookSmart?

There are two ways: 1. Pay $299 for an express listing. They tell you that they will list you in all the appropriate categories. And… they will reimburse you if your site is not worthy of a listing. 2. Use their free submission. Sounds doubtful that many will get in using this. And you definitely won’t get in if you are a commercial site.

Here’s the link:

For more info on LookSmart, bookmark this page: http://www.thewritemarket.com/directories/looksmart.htm

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EXCITE

Excite – the most unexciting SE of late. I figured I’d tackle this one first, because by the time this tutorial is finished (6 months from now) you MAY see some ranks at Excite. I submitted a new site to Excite on June 9th. I have yet to see it indexed. I also submitted an old site (already in the Excite index) on June 9th – and it has still not been re-visited.

Some things you might want to know:
1. Check to see if your site is listed by typing into the search box: url:yoursite.com
2. Submit your site here:
http://www.excite.com/info/add_url_form
3. Excite’s spider is called “Architext”. Look for visitations from Architext in your referrer logs. crawl.atext.com or any variation thereof crimpshine.atext.com
4. If you submit to Excite you are also submitting to Webcrawler and Magellan (two minor search engines.) You may also submit separately to these two engines without any penalties.
5. Excite does not deep crawl. If you’ve optimized a particular page for excite, you really need to submit that page as well as your home page.
6. Excite does not follow frames. (There are ways around this, we will discuss these in future issues.)

What works:
1. Excite does not boost your rank for anything in the description or keywords metatags. However, it does use the description meta tag when listing your site – so, make sure you have one! Limit your description to 200 characters.
2. Excite gives a boost for the title tag, so have your most important keywords first in the title. Try using one or two keywords per page. Limit your title to 70 characters.
3. Use a keyword frequency of 3%-10% in your body text. Here is a great tool you may want to use to calculate keyword frequency: http://www.keywordcount.com You will need to experiment with keyword frequency.
4. Try to have some keywords at the beginning of the body text and at the end of the body text.
5. Length of page – around 300 words.
6. Use keywords in your linked text about 50% of the time.
7. Click popularity will boost your listing. Make sure your description is killer – get people clicking on your site.
8. Link popularity will boost your rank – links coming into your site from other sites. Go out and get some other sites with similar content to link to you. Don’t be bashful – people ask us to link all the time.
(In future issues we will discuss link popularity and click popularity in greater detail.)

Here’s more info on Excite:
http://www.thewritemarket.com/search/excite.htm

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Again, I highly recommend the program, WebPosition Gold. This program will tell you more exact numbers for keyword density in your body text for specific search engines. Personally, I find that the traffic analyzer is the best part of the program. For the amateur search engine optimization specialist this program is the most cost efficient tool out there and includes everything you need for effective SE optimization.

http://www.webposition.com/cgi-local/index.pl?DS1=RP&DS2;=CYO-555E

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WHAT’S NEW AT THE WRITE MARKET

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