Search Engine Optimization Truths

A Brief Guide to Understanding Your Web Site’s Relationship with Search Engines

Common Misunderstandings About Search Engine Presence

This is a legacy article, and technology is always evolving and changing! For more recent tips on search engines, check out our blog.

There are several myths about Internet marketing that all too often lead website owners astray. Today, there are probably hundreds of search engine optimization (SEO) companies that claim they can “guarantee” your success if you use their automated submission tool which will submit your site to thousands of search engines. This may sound easy and cost effective at first, but the majority of these strategies are bogus.

Often, the “thousands of search engines” that these SEOs submit to include a list of unpopular or irrelevant resources that will direct very little or no traffic to your website. How would your fitness website experience positive results from a listing in a directory about country music? It is more efficient to include your site in the most popular search engines and directories, which are searched by thousands, even millions of people per day. Typically, the top resources to focus on are: Google, Yahoo!, Dmoz (Open Directory Project), AltaVista, MSN, Lycos, Looksmart, Inktomi, Fast, Teoma/Ask Jeeves. Some SEO consultants would add additional names to the list, such as About.com and Infospace.

Since the search engine world is constantly changing, some of these resources operate in conjunction with others, while many have specific listing procedures and fees for inclusion. An automated software will likely ignore specific procedures, and therefore may not successfully list a submission.

No one, not even a search engine “expert”, can guarantee your #1 ranking in major search engines. This is a fact that has been reinforced by important search engine organizations such as Google1. But with careful attention to the content of your website, achieving a top listing is possible. The content of your website should be viewed as a book in a large library: Why would a reader pick up your book on the shelf rather than the one beside it? If your website provides rich, relevant information to its visitors, it is more likely to be considered a valuable resource. This brings visitors back time and time again, as well as the friends they referred to you.

Promoting Your Site With Links

Major search engines such as Google also use “link popularity” as a tool to measure your site’s ranking. Simply put: the more links other websites have to your website, the more “popular” your website is. But there is more to this theory: The websites who are linking to you should be relevant resources to the subject matter of your website. For example: If a diary farm website links to your auto repair website, this link is probably not considered relative to the keywords associated with your website. A person searching for “auto repair” companies doesn’t rely on advice from a dairy farm. On the contrary, a website by the “Organization for Really Great Cars” would provide a very relevant link to an auto repair business. The wording of the link itself can also help search engines determine its relevance to keywords. For example, a link reading “Learn more about auto repair today” is more effective than a link that simply states, “Click here!”.

Caution: Link Programs

Free-for-all (FFA) link sites are also best to avoid. Generally, these programs offer very little or no relevant linking relationships and will only help to increase your receipt of spam email. Many FFA programs’ ultimate goal is to collect contact information from you and the hundreds of other participants.

Instead, the usual recommended method for exchanging links is to approach each site owner/webmaster individually, paying careful attention to the relevance of the site you wish to be listed on, and explaining what your own site can offer to the partner in return (such as a reciprocal link). Building your link partnerships is an ongoing process that requires dedication, but it can pay off in the long run by greatly increasing your link popularity and placing you in the top results of a search.

HTML Mechanisms

Title and Meta Tags are part of the HTML coding of your web pages and often a focus for optimizing the search engine “friendliness” of the site. It has been proven that the title tag of your page, indicated by <title> and </title> brackets, are a key reference for search engines like Google. When planning out the titles of your pages, it is a good idea to include your strong key words and phrases. Meta tags consist of additional reference information in your HTML, such as keywords, description, and web site authoring tools. While many modern search engine robots will ignore the information in these tags, they are not harmful to your web site and could assist with some indexing. Therefore, many web designers will include these tags in the pages with strong keywords.

Paid Advertising Programs

Other advertising strategies can provide your website with added exposure in search engines and directories, while helping you to reach a targeted audience of consumers. Reaching the right customers will result in a better return of investment.

Suggested advertising programs are:


Google AdWords

AdWords are simple boxed text ads displayed at the side of the search results of Google.com. The advertiser may set a maximum budget for their keywords and create descriptions to suit those specific words. Charges are based on CPC (cost per click). The ads are ranked based on quality, click popularity and bid amount.

Recommended resources for learning more about the workings of search engine optimization are:

Google Webmaster Info (1): http://www.google.com/webmasters

Search Engine Watch: http://www.searchenginewatch.com

WEBii does not make any guarantees about the services/resources recommended here. Many customers have expressed success using these products, but each website owner’s experience may differ. Please consult the specific vendor for more details on their services.