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Small Business Resources > Marketing > Search Engines

Search Engines

The very first step you absolutely MUST take is to register your site with the major search engines. Because there is no form of standardised global index on the Internet, it is from different search engines that users start their hunt for specific information. Now we’ve highlighted these words to remind you of two points which we feel it’s important you comprehend. In fact, it’s of such importance that your entire marketing strategy should be based upon them:

Firstly, people (generally) don’t go online with the intention of buying something. They go to search for specific information. Actually, when you think about it this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to you. It’s not merely coincidence that two of the most familiar terms associated with the Internet are the terms, browser and surfing because they both describe quite accurately what a person is doing when online.

Knowing this is important. You must appreciate how people use the Internet because an understanding of this user behaviour will have a consequence on what you have to say on your Web site.

In many ways, to this end it can be compared to placing an ad in a magazine. Most readers don’t actively buy the magazine in order to buy something. They purchase the magazine because they are interested in the information ... the articles, stories, reports etc. They are browsing the magazine if you like. They only buy something if they are attracted to a particular advertisement.

So there is an obvious similarity here between electronic and conventional marketing. The difference is that advertising conventionally is push-marketing. In other words, you have to push your offer (via your ad) towards the reader. Your ad has had absolutely no control on bringing that reader to the magazine in the first place.

eCommerce on the other hand, as we’ve mentioned, is about pull-marketing. It is you who controls the marketing. You have to pull prospects to your Web site (or your electronic ad if you prefer). And once there, it is the job of your Web site to convert these targeted visitors into purchasers/enquirers of your product/s or service/s.

This will do a number of things:

(i) Add value to your Web site which will encourage a user to bookmark your site for future visits (if they are not ready to buy anything at the time). Important because if a visitor doesn’t bookmark your Web site, it’s doubtful whether they’d remember your URL (i.e. your Web address) next time they’re online.

(ii) It’s what will attract prospects to your Web site in the first place. Remember, people are looking for information online, they don’t log-on with the intention to buy something (generally). For example, instead of holding a thought such as, "okay, today I’m going to spend £2,000 on an antique desk..." , they’ll more likely be saying to themselves, "I’m really interested in finding out more about Victorian antiques..."

(iii) Will allow you to build a relationship with prospects and add to your credibility. By supplying free useful information, you create a sharing image and not a taking image. Internet marketing is all about being customer-centred and not company-centred. Remember, most users are probably accessing your site from the comfort and security of their homes, and who wants to willingly invite a salesman into their home. If your site impresses nothing more than buy-from-me it’s going to be a big turn-off. So as far as the Web goes, be an advisor NOT a salesman. The former will get you far more sales and business than the latter could ever hope to achieve.

Let’s now take a look at the mechanics of search engine promotion.

You use search engines to hunt for information by typing in a keyword/s and performing a search. The search engine will then sift through its database housing millions of Web pages, to display a list of sites which relate to the keyword/s search you have performed.

Therefore, as this is the first port of call for most users, it makes sense that registering with the search engines should form the first part of your online marketing strategy. So where do you begin, after all there are now thousands of search engines and directories? How do you register your site? And won’t it take a very long time?

We’ll look at the latter two questions in a second, but as for the first, we’ll yes there are hundreds (and it’s growing all the time) but in truth probably about 90% of the traffic surfing the Net comes through 10 or so search engines. So we would recommend a dual approach. A manual registration to the top search engines, and an automatic registration to a few hundred others.

A Look At Manually Registering Your Web Site
Registering your Web Site with search engines basically means submitting your Web address (URL) with each search engine in order for it to be indexed in their database. It really involves little more than visiting the search engine’s own home page and clicking on a link such as Submit URL, Add URL, Add a Page, Add Listing etc (note this varies from engine to engine) and following the simple on-screen instructions.

Following is a list of the main search engines you should consider registering with:

Before registering however, there are one or two things you should be aware of. Firstly, not all search engines are really search engines as such, though they all tend to be categorised as such. For example a search engine such as Yahoo is really more of a directory because it is simply a listing of Web pages by category. They don’t really search the Web, but search their own indexed databases.

This is important to know because when it comes to registration, you can submit keywords and your site’s description exactly as you would like them to appear. And of course you can ensure a placing in the category which best reflects the subject-matter housed on your Web site.

True search engines (such as Alta Vista) on the other hand, use what are called robots, crawlers or spiders. This is special indexing software which automatically trawls the Net. Therefore, by simply registering your URL with a search engine, it will use it’s indexing software robot to visit that Web page (i.e. the URL you registered) and index it based on the search engines specific criteria (note that criteria for indexing varies from engine to engine).

In addition to directories and true search engines, there are others which are really Meta Search Engines. Essentially these engines don’t go off and trawl the Internet to search keywords, but actually search the true search engines. In other words, they don’t search the Web, they only search the databases of other search engines.

Another very important factor to be aware of regarding all 3 types of search engines (i.e. directories; search engines and Meta search engines) is to know how they prioritise listings. Each time a user executes a search on a keyword or phrase, each of the different type of search engines will list the results based upon different criteria. Briefly:

Meta search engines will rank sites calculated upon the combined ranking of all the search engines it searches. Therefore, the key to being ranked high by a Meta search engine is to enjoy as many high ranking positions on the search engines it accesses.

As for directories and true search engines, their ranking criteria isn’t standard. However, generally they will be based upon keyword/s appearance on your registered Web page. For example, you could enjoy a higher ranking by placing keywords/phrases in the title of your page; in the Meta tags; close to each other in other parts of the page and as many times as is reasonable throughout the body of your text. These are generalities though remember, and we would advise that before registration you take the time to visit the search engine’s home pages and check out the criteria they use.

A Word About Keywords
Understanding this ranking criteria is important because it will (or at least, should) effect how your Web site (the home page at least) looks textually speaking. Now you have some knowledge about search engines, you will realise that using a main heading on your page such as, Welcome To Our Web Store, for example, may be warm and friendly, but it’s not going to help you attract prospective customers/enquires.

So before it comes to registration, just spend some time to put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. If you were to look for the kind of information/product/service related to your site, what would you personally search for? What keywords or phrases would you use?

For example, if you owned a pet shop, you’d certainly want the word Pets appearing in the title of your home page and as many times throughout your site. Think of as many word combinations which include the word pet (such as Pet store; Pet Shop; Pet Supplies; Pet Food etc). List as many pet terms as you can on your page, but don’t make it obvious. There’s no point if your text makes no sense. Remember, what we said earlier about offering useful information at your site. You must get the balance right.

Another factor to consider is that Internet marketing could really be described as Target marketing. This is because of the highly specific manner in which users surf the Net. They tend to be looking for exact information, rather than even an information category.

For instance, rather than looking for pets in general, a user is much more likely to be looking for information pertaining to a specific pet, such as a dog. And it gets even more refined than this, because a user will tend to be searching for information pertaining to a specific type of dog, such as a Great Dane.

So do spend a little time thinking about your business, the products and services you offer, and what’s the most likely keyword/phrases that you think your typical prospect is likely to search for.

Automatically Registering Your Web Site
As we mentioned earlier, there are now literally thousands of search engines/directories on the Internet, but to manually register with even a small fraction of these would be very time consuming.

A far easier way is to either use many of the submission services on the Net or to buy your own submission software. From these, obviously the easiest is to use the former. These are sites which will automatically register (submit) your URL/site with a preset number of search engines, either for a one time, and usually small, cost, or entirely free. Here’s a few for you to check out:

Our own free submission service where you can register your site with the top search engines by completing one simple form.

Here you also complete just one registration form and submit it to several search engines at once rather than visiting all the search engines individually making it a convenient and quick way to promote your site.

Will register your site to hundreds of search engines or up to 1,550 for a small one-off fee .

Automatic submission services sound like a great idea, and they are, which is why we recommend you make use of them. However, saying that we still think it’s important that you personally, manually register your site with the major search engines we’ve listed. Why?

Because, as we alluded to, there is no standard search engine criteria for ranking or registration. So if you can go to each of the main ones manually, find out what their ranking/registration criteria is, you give yourself a better chance of mirroring these requirements.

Another Useful Search Engine Link
Another Web site worth checking out is Search Engine Watch. It’s a great place to gather all the resource information on search engines you could possibly require. There’s direct links to virtually all the search engines; ranking tips; guides; everything. Check them out:

Finally, just to remind you of the basic information you’ll need when registering your site, whether manually or automatically:

  • Your URL (i.e. Web address)
  • A number of keywords
  • A brief description of your home page
  • Your exact e-mail address (if you have one)
  • Your home page’s title
  • Contact name and address.

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