Search Engine Basics

The Internet offers vast amounts of information on any conceivable topic. It is also a potential source of new customers and profits for those who want to open a virtual business, supplement their business with Internet customers, or promote their business.

Why Promote?

The strength of the Internet is also its weakness – there is just so much information – not only good information but bad information as well. There are literally over 50 million websites on the Internet. It is both difficult to find the information you want and it is nigh impossible for users to find you unless they either stumble upon your website URL or find your site in a Search Engine.

There was an interesting experiment conducted in 2003 in Amsterdam. Using GPS to track the movement of a few hundred people over a one month period, the experimenters mapped where the subjects had travelled over that month. The results showed that there were “well worn” routes that nearly all people travelled in the city with many of the side streets and locales in Amsterdam nearly unvisited.

The same is true of the Internet. Although there are literally millions of “locales” and “roads” we could travel on the Internet, the top 20 websites receive over 90% of all Internet traffic! There are certainly more than enough visitors to go around for the remainin 10% to be significant but webmasters ought to have no illusions that people are just looking for your site – they are not unless you promote it.

Search Engine Submission

Search engines are so ubiquitous that it is a waste of time to describe what they are. What is misunderstood about them is how to promote your site using them. First, there are tons of free site submission tools to get your website included at hundreds of search engines throughout the world. You can also pay companies who will submit your site for you to the over 800 search engines that exist worldwide.

The fallacy is that simply submitting you site to a search engine will result in the traffic you desire. In fact, you may not drive a single interested visitor or customer to your site by just submitting the site to search engines. We would all like to have our site “bubble to the top” every time a surfer makes an Internet search related to our website. The truth is that there are likely many dozens or hundreds of other sites broadly related to the same topic. Search engines try to provide the most relevant and popular links that will provide their customers the information they need.

My advice: Use the site submission tools that are free but don’t pay for site submission until you’ve built relevant content that will build popularity.

Becoming Relevant

The key to becoming “relevant” to a search is building “keyword” driven web pages that over-deliver on the type of content that a user is looking for. These keyword pages ought to be woven together into an overall site concept that ties together the keyword topics that people will be looking for that you wish to serve. SiteBuildIt! and the SEOBook are the best guides I know of to providing advice on how to build keyword based sites and provides Brainstorming tools on the best keywords to focus on. I use them both. SBI is a nice resource for beginners while the SEOBook provides more in depth strategies once you get rolling.

Becoming Popular

On the internet, you’ll need to buy your friends. Until you become so relevant and popular that you will appear in the top 10 of the keywords you want to serve, you will need to promote your site. Your page ranking on search engines will increase as you receive more visitors and, especially, as your visitors start linking their own pages to yours because you provide such great information. Beware of who you engage in reciprocal link exchange with. Ensure the sites are relevant to your content and that they will not bring disrepute upon you. Linking to everybody that asks you to is not wise. Be patient, be selective. There is no shortcut to real relevance so don’t become link crazy – focus on content. There are also a number of free directories you can list with (more on that later).

Some Tips on Advertising

(See my Pay Per Click Advertising Guide for more details)

1. List with several advertisers to blanket your ad across the Internet.

2. Use the conversion tools provided by the advertising engines to determine which ads are generating revenue. Web advertising can become very expensive so drop the ads or advertisers that don’t make you money.

3. Use very targeted keywords as opposed to very general terms. You may drive more traffic to your site but if the visitors are disinterested you might be wasting money on the wrong demographic. For instance, if you are a children’s shoe store, you may find that you are paying for far too many clicks per customer sale if you advertise on the keyword phrase [shoe store] as opposed to a more targeted [children's shoe store] phrase.

4. Use a wide variety of keywords that pertain to your site and build several unique ads for each keyword or grouping of keywords.

5. Use SiteBuildIt! and the SEOBook. I can’t emphasize enough how much I believe in these products. They help you find the keyword combinations you need and help you manage your sales conversions and tracking of what is and isn’t working. Internet advertising can be profitable but it can also be very costly if done in an amateurish fashion.

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