Search Engines from a Webmaster Perspective

By now, virtually every webmaster has heard or read that the major search engines are responsible for 80% or more of the traffic received by most web sites and that most searchers never look beyond the first 20 - 50 search results. Not surprisingly, an entire industry devoted to search engine ranking and search engine optimization (SEO) has sprung up to capitalize on these well known facts.

Tens of thousands of web sites compete to achieve top ranking for their chosen keywords and keyword phrases. We've published numerous articles by various SEO experts on linking strategies, optimizing meta tags and page content, and relevant page content. And, undoubtedly, we'll publish many more. Achieving a top ranking for a particular keyword or phrase is a major accomplishment, but the sad fact is that most web sites will never come close to reaching a top 10, a top 30, or even a top 100, listing in any major search engine.

Is it possible to be listed in the top 10 - 30 search results of a major search engine? Yes, possible, just not very likely for the average web site. It's a lot like playing the lottery and with the same appeal. Get your site in the top 10 search results and the payoffs are big - you just need to knock out a few million competitors.

THE RISE OF PAY-PER-CLICK

The difficulty in achieving a top ranking for a free site listing has in recent years given rise to the pay-per-click search engine phenomena. Overture's singular success with this model has resulted in hundreds of search engines jumping on the pay-per-click bandwagon. Pay-per-click is a great idea and taps right into the frustrated webmaster/site owner market. Many site owners simply do not want to be bothered with checking keyword density, tweaking their page content, fiddling with their meta tags and undertaking linking campaigns.

With pay-per-click, you get the site ranking you can afford. A simple, understandable concept. If money isn't a problem, the PPC system is hard to beat.

Most experts would probably recommend combining search engine optimization with PPC for maximizing traffic. And, there you have it - the two dominant methods for driving targeted visitors to your web site. Dominant, but probably irrelevant to the vast majority of site owners and webmasters who don't have the time to learn the ever-changing art of SEO or the budget for PPC's and SEO firms.

What should be relevant is how to get traffic to your site without breaking the bank or having to earn a degree in SEO techniques. Where it comes from should be secondary. Don't limit your traffic building efforts to just a few of the majors like Google, Yahoo, Inktomi and Overture. The top 8 or 10 search engines may be popular but that doesn't mean that your site will reap the benefits.

Here are several reasons why:

1. Sometimes the numbers work against you. Another billion pages added to Google or AlltheWeb are NOT going to help the average site owner - they are just going to bury the needle - your website - deeper in the haystack. And search traffic is only important, if your website can be found.

2. The major search engines cater primarily to searchers not webmasters. Why? Because more search traffic means more revenue and there are far more searchers than webmasters.

3. Even PPC engines deliver more than top 50 search results. That means unless you're a high bidder, your website may still not be seen by many.

From a webmaster's perspective what you should be looking for in a search engine is the right balance of search traffic and understandable site listing/ranking options. Engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and Ask Jeeves have massive traffic, but you need to evaluate your chances for having your web site added and then ranked well. You also need to determine if a search engine is more focused on revenue generation through ads, paid inclusion and Sponsored listings than they are in catering to your concerns about where your web site appears.

More specifically, when evaluating any engine regardless of size or traffic, you should consider the following factors:

1. Free Site Listings

A few years ago, you could submit your site to almost any search engine, small or large, for free. But times have changed. Today, even many second tier engines have PPC or paid inclusion programs, and free submissions, where offered, are often given little attention. This ties right into the second feature you should be looking for in a search engine.

2. Indexing Speed

The usual pitch is that free listings can take a month or more to be added (with some SE's, never is more likely), but a paid listing will be added within 48 hours to a week. Does this make sense? Most search engines don't manually review site submissions so whether a submission is free or paid shouldn't affect indexing speed. Slow indexing for free site submissions is most often nothing more than a deliberate ploy to get your money.

3. Ranking Options

Look for a search engine that offers some clues on how to improve your site ranking, short of emptying your wallet. Few engines reveal all the factors they use in ranking sites but knowing where the emphasis is (content, link popularity, meta tags, etc.) can be enough to point you in the right direction. There are also a handful of engines and directories that offer innovative listing options that give your website a much better chance of being seen.

4. Quality Searches

Important to site owners and searchers alike. When quality sites are buried in a sea of second rate listings, no one benefits.

5. Traffic

If you want your website seen, the traffic a search engine attracts is important, but don't be too quick to write off smaller, up and coming engines. Not too long ago both Google and Overture were considered long shots in the search engine wars. Also, keep in mind that top ranking in an engine that receives a few million searches per month may be more important to you than no ranking in an engine that receives millions of searches per day.

6. Paid Listing Options:

Look for paid listing options that offer more than fast inclusion in a database. With PPC, you get what you pay for, but with paid inclusion, you should receive more than you would with a free listing.

If you're not familiar with any search engines other than the big players, check out FreeWebSubmission.com (http://www.freewebsubmission.com) where you can find a list of the 50 top search engines that still offer free site listings. Engines are ranked by their Alexa rating which indicates their user popularity. Here's a list of the top 10 from FWS with current Alexa rankings:

  • Google - 5

  • Lycos - 44

  • AltaVista - 64

  • About - 86

  • Open Directory - 157

  • AlltheWeb - 215

  • ExactSeek - 1,999

  • ScrubTheWeb - 2,483

  • What U Seek - 2,868

  • SearchHippo - 2,905

    Some other engines and directories worth considering in your promotion efforts are Gimpsy (http://www.gimpsy.com/), RoList (http://www.rolist.com), SitesOnDisplay (http://www.sitesondisplay.com) and National Directory (http://www.nationaldirectory.com).

    About The Author

    Mel Strocen is CEO of the Jayde Online Network of websites. The Jayde network currently consists of 12 websites, including ExactSeek.com (http://www.exactseek.com) and SiteProNews.com (http://www.sitepronews.com).

    In The News:

    A New Twist In SEO  Business 2 Community
    How to make data driven SEO decisions  Business MattersBusiness Matters
    JumpFly SEO Director to Speak at SMX West 2020  JumpFly PPC Advertising News
    What Does It Mean to ‘Do SEO’?  Search Engine Journal
    Can SEO Be Made Predictable?  Search Engine Journal
    5 Easy SEO Wins with Powerful Results  Search Engine Journal

  • Do Not Ever Link to a Site Without Doing This First!

    Links are a crucial part of attaining high search rankings,... Read More

    Website Copy-writing for Higher Sales and Higher Search Engine Ranking

    Why, you ask? Mainly, because search engines want to provide... Read More

    Guide to Getting Linked

    Getting links from other websites pointing to your site can... Read More

    Are Your Keywords Making Money for You?

    I built my website, it's perfect. My chosen subject of... Read More

    The Value of Search Engine Marketing

    Search engine marketing vs traditional offline marketing. Most often, traditional... Read More

    Google Zombies Need To Wake Up

    Over the last couple of weeks, I've received more e-mails... Read More

    Niche Marketing - Why Keyword Research Come First

    A good portion of my business involves spending hours and... Read More

    3.5 Tips To Help You Avoid Becoming The Next Search Engine Outlaw

    Want to avoid being blacklisted by the search engines and... Read More

    SEO = Search Engine Optimization, tips on successful page ranking

    One of the key things to remember when developing your... Read More

    Google PageRank Explained

    1. What is PageRank? Here is what Google says:" PageRank... Read More

    How Search Engines Work

    Before anyone can start optimizing a web site, you must... Read More

    SEO - Get Your Site Out of the Google Sandbox Fast!

    Is your new site sitting in the infamous Google "sandbox"?... Read More

    Its Not Just All About Google Anymore

    Those webmasters that stick to the old ways and focus... Read More

    7 Search Engine Optimization Strategy

    Search engine optimization refers to the technique of making your... Read More

    How You Can Easily Compile A Gigantic Keyword List

    It doesn't matter what kind of marketing you are involved... Read More

    Search Engines - The Dominant Factor

    Let's face facts - Search engines are starting to rule... Read More

    7 Search Engine Optimization Mistakes and Solutions

    To many websites, webmasters discover that major sources of website... Read More

    Tools of the Trade, the SEO Must Have Utilities

    Search Engine traffic accounts for nearly 80% of the Internet... Read More

    What is Your Sales Message?

    So you built a website, you have a product, but... Read More

    How Do I Improve My Web Site Conversion Rate? Part 2

    Question 1Does it help to track visitor behavior on websites... Read More

    Directories and Their Importance for Search Engine Rankings

    About directories:A directory is simply a web site that contains... Read More

    Google Slavery...Old Habits Die Hard

    For the first few months after Yahoo decided to go... Read More

    Do It Yourself SEO

    Internet surfers use search engines more than any other tool... Read More

    Google Is Not Only A Search Engine!

    When you now organize a street interview and ask people... Read More

    Winning the Search Engine Wars!

    Creating and building effective Search Engine marketing campaigns is like... Read More