SMM  Strategic Marketing Montreal

 
Your Website may reveal more than you really want customers to see
[Newsletter #18]
For more sales, call your company Monday
 

Free Ways To Get Top Listings By Search-engines

Introduction

Your website should be a powerful and integral part of your total marketing and selling strategy. While top listings with search engines may not be the primary objective of your website, some potential customers will come via search engines. So it is worth putting appropriate effort into getting top listings. This is particularly true when it doesn't cost anything.

There are of course expensive ways of getting top listings. You probably get e-mail messages from companies offering to keep your website at the top of the search engine lists. Many such companies provide cost-effective services. The only caution is that some of the methods used may be deemed as spamming by the search engines. The search engines are trying to avoid being manipulated by crafty webmasters, who seek a listing higher than their site really deserves. So web pages that over-use key words may be accused of spamming and be dropped from the list. Another no-no is to have a number of subsidiary sites that all immediately redirect the visitor to the basic web page. Again this may mean your site is dropped from the search engine listing.

What can be achieved

Luckily a number of simple steps will ensure good listings for your site. Without spending any money, you can be high in the listings for the key words that best apply to your website.

The SMM website is a case in point. No fees whatsoever have been paid to publicize the site. Search with Google (www.google.com) with the key words - marketing, Montreal - and see what you find. For your convenience, just click on the button below, when the Google search engine will show you the current results in a new window. (Click on the X in the top right of this window to close it when you are finished.) Of the 300,000 web pages indexed by Google with these key words, SMM web pages are listed 3 and 4. Google is now the most important search engine, being used for twice as many hours by searchers as its nearest rival, Yahoo (www.yahoo.com).

 

The FAST search engine (www.alltheweb.com) on June 14th claimed it now has more entries in its database of web pages than Google. FAST is now also the base of the Lycos search engine (www.lycos.com). Try the key words - marketing, Montreal - with FAST and see what you find. Click on the next button for this demo. Of over 550,000 pages with these key words indexed by FAST, SMM is listed as number 1.

One caution is that these results may well change with time. This newsletter is being issued on June 28, 2002. These top search engines are constantly adding new web sites. Each time you click for the demo you get the Google or FAST view at that very moment. New sites may come along that could possibly rate higher. SMM is not taking any further measures or expenses to keep these listings high. The free steps discussed in the rest of this paper are all that are in place.

How to do it

Two steps need to be taken to get such good listings:

Your website should reflect what your target visitors are looking for, and
Use free ways to increase your site's visibility with search engines.

What your target visitors are looking for

This is the critical element in all that follows. You must know what key words your target visitors might use to search for suppliers such as you. You must have a precise definition of who your target visitors are. You must also know how you can present a description of what you are offering that is better for them than what the competition can offer.

Search engines try to mimic intelligent human researchers

A search engine tries to simulate how a human searcher might size up a web page. So whatever will work for the human searcher will likely work well with the search engines.

Across the top of your screen, your browser shows the Title of your web page. This is presumably an important summary of your website. So it should give a clear statement of what you are offering your visitor. Ideally it should contain the key words he or she is looking for.

The top part of the screen should then give information that fits the visitor's needs. Equally, search engines give more weight to what appears higher on the screen. So here again you should be mentioning those preferred keywords.

Another part of the web page is very important, but does not appear on the screen. This is the Meta tag - Description. This appears in some search engines' listings of web pages. Here you can add 200 or so characters and spaces to give a concise description of why your company can fill the visitor's needs better than the competition.

There is another Meta tag, which is important for some search engines. This is the Keyword Meta tag. However it is not used by Google. Nevertheless for other search engines, which may give some weight to them, it is worth adding appropriate keywords under this Meta tag.

Equally what irritates a human searcher may well cause the web page to be rejected from a search engine's listings. Too many uses of the keyword will be viewed as spamming by the search engine. Also if you try to have a number of subsidiary pages that immediately redirect the searcher to your main web page, this too will cause some search engines to drop your web page from their listings. In summary, make your web page visitor-friendly and search engine-friendly by bringing out the points that they are looking for. Once this is done you are ready for the next stage.

Use some free ways to help your site's visibility

To develop the best visibility for your website, it is important to understand some of the features of search engines. The most important of these, such as Google or FAST, each have over 2 billion web pages indexed in their databases. Their crawlers automatically search the Internet for web pages, then index each page they find against keywords. The efficiency with which they do this is mind-boggling.

Michael Porter is the #1 consultant/guru in the world and this year he is emphasizing strategic marketing. However a Google search on "strategic marketing" and "Michael Porter" perhaps surprisingly has SMM web pages as the Number 1 and 2 listings. Click the button for a demo. Both web pages have Michael Porter's name fairly high up within the text of the web page.

More surprisingly, Tom Siebel, the big name in Customer Relationship Management, is mentioned in passing in the body of a Newsletter from 2000. However do a Google search for "strategic marketing" and "Tom Siebel" and SMM comes up Number 2 in the listing. Click below for the demo. This demonstrates the efficiency of the Google database in cataloguing websites in very great depth and detail.

To make the Google search engine aware of your website in the first place, you should register your website with them (http://www.google.com/addurl.html), which is free. There is no guarantee that your website will be listed, or when, but the process is usually reasonably efficient. Another advantage is that the Google database is now used by Yahoo, so this covers two search engines at the same time.

Another very important step is often missed. This is to register your website with the Open Directory (http://dmoz.org/add.html). This is a human-moderated directory system, originally set up by Netscape. The process is free, but there is no guarantee that your website will be listed. The delays here are usually longer, of the order of 6 weeks. This will give you extra visibility with other search engines based on the Open Directory. These include Netscape, HotBot, AltaVista and NorthernLight. It also is used as the basis of the Google Directory search process.

There are a number of other search engines, which are free to register with. You should apply to them all. Some of the more important ones are FAST (http://www.alltheweb.com/add_url.php), Altavista (http://addurl.altavista.com/sites/addurl/newurl), and EntireWeb (http://www.entireweb.com/eng/basic/).

There are other search engines, where you must pay to register. Or with others, you can pay a promotional fee to be listed at the start of a listing as a sponsored link. If your marketing approach requires that most of your potential sales come from visitors finding your site through search engines, then these approaches can be very cost-effective. However they do not fall within the scope of this current Newsletter.

If your budget cannot support additional expenditures, this should not be a cause for despair. Search engines do interchange information and most have crawlers which search the Internet looking for additional sites. So eventually, most will become aware of your web site. Remember until this happens, there is no way you will ever get on to their listings.

How to get higher in the search engine listings,
such as those from Google

Each search engine has its own logic for the order in which it will list web pages matching the key words selected. If you feel that a particular search engine is likely to be important to your target audience, then you should try to understand its logic and adjust accordingly. However given Google's dominant position, no one can ignore the Google logic. Google is now used twice as much as the next most popular search engine, so this is something worth working on.

If Google knows about your site, how do you get to the top of the list in any search? The Google algorithms are proprietary and only outline descriptions of how they work are made available. For any selection of keywords, there will be a large number of web pages in their database, which contain these keywords. Google then ranks these web pages based on a combination of the relevance of the web page to the selected keywords and the PageRank� of the particular web page.

PageRank� is a Google trademarked concept. It assigns a PageRank� to any web page based on the number of other web pages, which link into the given web page and the PageRank�s of these linking web pages. Basically, the more web pages, which link to your site, the higher your Google ranking. So if your website is listed on others' websites, this will increase your Google standing. Even better if these linking websites are prestigious. So have an active program to get listings on other websites. This may involve showing a corresponding link to the other website on your own website.

In Summary

The following provides a very short summary of the ways to get top listings for free.

Design your website to feature up-front the keywords that your target audience may use.
Have a web page title that clearly states the benefit delivered to the visitor
Have a short description (200 characters and spaces or so) of the web page that will attract the potential visitor
Have a Keyword Meta tag that gives important keywords that potential visitors may use
Register your web page with the Open Directory
Register your web page with the free search engines
Encourage other web sites to give links to your web page.

Doing only these things will do wonders for your search engine listings. However it may take a little time, since the search engine crawlers have a lot of ground to cover (2 billion web pages and counting!)

Postnote

Although this newsletter was written in 2002, many of the suggested activities are still correct. If you would like more specific and current advice on how the listings for your web site can be improved, then SMM will be happy to work with you.

Our help can be configured to meet exactly the needs you have. Our strengths, experience, creativity and practical common sense can complement those of your company. So write us a Fast Message today, , on what you're looking for.

Barry Welford

Feedback

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Your Website may reveal more than you really want customers to see
For more sales, call your company Monday
 
 
 


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Copyright 2002 Barry Welford, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Added to site 18 June 2002