Engines from a Webmaster Perspective
Search Engines from a Webmaster Perspective
By now, virtually every webmaster has heard or read that the major
search engines are responsible for 80% or more of the traffic received
by most web sites and that most searchers never look beyond the
first 20 - 50 search results. Not surprisingly, an entire industry
devoted to search engine ranking and search engine optimization
(SEO) has sprung up to capitalize on these well known facts.
Tens of thousands of web sites compete to achieve top ranking for
their chosen keywords and keyword phrases. We've published numerous
articles by various SEO experts on linking strategies, optimizing
meta tags and page content, and relevant page content. And, undoubtedly,
we'll publish many more. Achieving a top ranking for a particular
keyword or phrase is a major accomplishment, but the sad fact is
that most web sites will never come close to reaching a top 10,
a top 30, or even a top 100, listing in any major search engine.
Is it possible to be listed in the top 10 - 30 search results of
a major search engine? Yes, possible, just not very likely for the
average web site. It's a lot like playing the lottery and with the
same appeal. Get your site in the top 10 search results and the
payoffs are big - you just need to knock out a few million competitors.
THE RISE OF PAY-PER-CLICK
The difficulty in achieving a top ranking for a free site listing
has in recent years given rise to the pay-per-click search engine
phenomena. Overture's singular success with this model has resulted
in hundreds of search engines jumping on the pay-per-click bandwagon.
Pay-per-click is a great idea and taps right into the frustrated
webmaster/site owner market. Many site owners simply do not want
to be bothered with checking keyword density, tweaking their page
content, fiddling with their meta tags and undertaking linking campaigns.
With pay-per-click, you get the site ranking you can afford. A
simple, understandable concept. If money isn't a problem, the PPC
system is hard to beat.
Most experts would probably recommend combining search engine optimization
with PPC for maximizing traffic. And, there you have it - the two
dominant methods for driving targeted visitors to your web site.
Dominant, but probably irrelevant to the vast majority of site owners
and webmasters who don't have the time to learn the ever-changing
art of SEO or the budget for PPC's and SEO firms.
What should be relevant is how to get traffic to your site without
breaking the bank or having to earn a degree in SEO techniques.
Where it comes from should be secondary. Don't limit your traffic
building efforts to just a few of the majors like Google, Yahoo,
Inktomi and Overture. The top 8 or 10 search engines may be popular
but that doesn't mean that your site will reap the benefits.
Here are several reasons why:
1. Sometimes the numbers work against you. Another billion pages
added to Google or AlltheWeb are NOT going to help the average site
owner - they are just going to bury the needle - your website -
deeper in the haystack. And search traffic is only important, if
your website can be found.
2. The major search engines cater primarily to searchers not webmasters.
Why? Because more search traffic means more revenue and there are
far more searchers than webmasters.
3. Even PPC engines deliver more than top 50 search results. That
means unless you're a high bidder, your website may still not be
seen by many.
From a webmaster's perspective what you should be looking for in
a search engine is the right balance of search traffic and understandable
site listing/ranking options. Engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL,
and Ask Jeeves have massive traffic, but you need to evaluate your
chances for having your web site added and then ranked well.
You also need to determine if a search engine is more focused on
revenue generation through ads, paid inclusion and Sponsored listings
than they are in catering to your concerns about where your web
More specifically, when evaluating any engine regardless of size
or traffic, you should consider the following factors:
1. Free Site Listings
A few years ago, you could submit your site to almost any search
engine, small or large, for free. But times have changed. Today,
even many second tier engines have PPC or paid inclusion programs,
and free submissions, where offered, are often given little attention.
This ties right into the second feature you should be looking for
in a search engine.
2. Indexing Speed
The usual pitch is that free listings can take a month or more
to be added (with some SE's, never is more likely), but a paid listing
will be added within 48 hours to a week. Does this make sense? Most
search engines don't manually review site submissions so whether
a submission is free or paid shouldn't affect indexing speed. Slow
indexing for free site submissions is most often nothing more than
a deliberate ploy to get your money.
3. Ranking Options
Look for a search engine that offers some clues on how to improve
your site ranking, short of emptying your wallet. Few engines reveal
all the factors they use in ranking sites but knowing where the
emphasis is (content, link popularity, meta tags, etc.) can be enough
to point you in the right direction. There are also a handful of
engines and directories that offer innovative listing options that
give your website a much better chance of being seen.
4. Quality Searches
Important to site owners and searchers alike. When quality sites
are buried in a sea of second rate listings, no one benefits.
If you want your website seen, the traffic a search engine attracts
is important, but don't be too quick to write off smaller, up and
coming engines. Not too long ago both Google and Overture were considered
long shots in the search engine wars. Also, keep in mind that top
ranking in an engine that receives a few million searches per month
may be more important to you than no ranking in an engine that receives
millions of searches per day.
6. Paid Listing Options:
Look for paid listing options that offer more than fast inclusion
in a database. With PPC, you get what you pay for, but with paid
inclusion, you should receive more than you would with a free listing.
If you're not familiar with any search engines other than the big
players, check out FreeWebSubmission.com (http://www.freewebsubmission.com)
where you can find a list of the 50 top search engines that still
offer free site listings. Engines are ranked by their Alexa rating
which indicates their user popularity. Here's a list of the top
10 from FWS with current Alexa rankings:
1. Google - 5
2. Lycos - 44
3. AltaVista - 64
4. About - 86
5. Open Directory - 157
6. AlltheWeb - 215
7. ExactSeek - 1,999
8. ScrubTheWeb - 2,483
9. What U Seek - 2,868
10. SearchHippo - 2,905
Some other engines and directories worth considering in your promotion
efforts are Gimpsy (http://www.gimpsy.com/), RoList (http://www.rolist.com),
SitesOnDisplay (http://www.sitesondisplay.com) and National Directory
About the Author
Mel Strocen is CEO of
the Jayde Online Network of websites. The Jayde network currently
consists of 12 websites, including ExactSeek.com (http://www.exactseek.com)
and SiteProNews.com (http://www.sitepronews.com).