WEB MARKETING: In search of search engines

How to ensure effective placement on Internet search engines

Now that you’ve built your Website, will they come? They might, if your site receives prominent placement from Internet search engines.

Arguably the best way to get noticed on the ‘Net is to register with multiple search engines. And the process shouldn’t cost you a dime. “The basic formula is the same for most search engines,” says Shone Brooks, search engine analyst for Chicago-based online consultancy Fry Multimedia. “You submit your URL and e-mail address, and choose the category under which you’d like your site to appear.”

But not all search engines are alike. For instance, “index” search engines such as Yahoo!, Looksmart, and Go employ human editors to review Websites and determine the subject categories they should be listed under. “Other search engines, such as Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves, and Inktomi, strictly provide the results of `spidering,'” says Lonny Paul, vice president of digital sales and marketing for World Wide Pet Supply, a Naugatuck, CT-based cataloger/retailer of pet and aquatic supplies. As Paul explains it, spidering “is when a computer scours the Web, retrieving information about the pages and related links it finds, then stores the information in a database” that is used to build results for user search queries.

To be most accurately described by the index-type engines, “the appropriate keywords should be in the title of the page and used repeatedly throughout the text,” Brooks says. For example, if you want your site to appear on all searches for “oranges,” your tag line might read “The world’s best oranges,” and the word “orange” should appear frequently in your site.

Spiders, on the other hand, rely more heavily on metatags, which are keywords embedded in the HTML (hypertext markup language) coding used to identify the contents of the site.

Checking your placement

While registering can ensure that your site will appear in response to search queries, there’s no guarantee that your Website will be on the top of the list. But Jami Engebreston, vice president of Internet for Medford, OR-based Northwest Best, a print and online catalog of food and gifts, says that vigilance – and software – can give you an edge. “We purchased software called Web Position that searches the Internet for our site and tells us where we are placed in each search engine,” she says. “It also suggests better keywords.” Engebreston says she checks the site’s placement on a weekly basis with the software.

For its part, North Country Smokehouse, a Claremont, NH-based catalog of applewood-smoked foods, pays $65 for quarterly reports from Didit.com, an online search service, regarding the catalog site’s search engine placement. But North Country president Michael Satzow admits that “we haven’t pursued search engine placement as much as we’d like to. We’re not listed in the top placements for searches of applewood-smoked bacon.”

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