How do people find my web site

Your customers find your web site because you have

  • Promoted your web site
  • Exchanged links
  • Optimized your website
  • Submitted your website to search engines
  • Paid for internet advertising

Promote Your Web Site

Promoting your web site should become part of your daily business routine. Put your web address on everything that you print for your business.

  • Business Cards
  • Brochures
  • News Paper Advertising
  • In Store signs
  • Cash Register Receipts

If you use any radio or TV advertising make sure you mention your web address. Tell your friends, relatives, and business associates about your website. If you sponsor charitable events make sure they list your website. Mention your website when you give speeches, run seminars, etc. Get interviewed for a newspaper or magazine article and mention your web site address. If you have company cars or trucks, put your web address under your company name. Offer coupons for discounts on purchases made on your website.

Exchange links

If you belong to trade groups, professional organizations, or networking organizations, ask them to put your web address on their web sites and add a reciprocal link to the organization on your web site. Find out if your suppliers have a website and ask them to list you as one of their distributors giving your web address. Do the same for any businesses that are distributors of your products. If you have satisfied customers that have web sites, ask them to add a link to your web site and add a link to their web site on your site.

Use the search engines to look for complimentary businesses and organizations that might have a clientele that would also be interested in your products or services. For instance, suppose you are a real estate agent. Complementary businesses would include, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, painters, home builders and remodelers, moving companies, etc. Add a link to their web site and then send them an email telling them that you have linked to their web site and ask them to reciprocate.

Never pay for links. There are some commercial websites, often called link farms, that will offer to put your link on thousands of pages for $29.95 a month. Don't do it. First of all these are not relevant links, that is these link farm pages have little or no content. Second, the search engines are very sensitive to these ploys for inflating your web sites ranking. You may find your web site permanently banned from the search engines, should they discover your actions. If your web site suddenly pops up in the top ten search results for a particular key word, another web site owner will probably check your back links, and report your site to the search engine.

The Importance of Links

Links from other web sites to your web site are important to you for three reasons. First, visitors to the other web sites will click on the link to your web site bringing traffic to your website. Second, the search engines will follow the links in the other sites and will index and catalog your site. And, third, the search engines will give your site higher relevancy values if you have a lot of other relevant sites pointing to your site. Links from relevant sites are much more important than links from any old site. The search engine logic seems to go something like this: If all of these web masters have bothered to put links to this site on their web site then this must be an important and useful site.

Optimize your website

This aspect of getting people to visit your web site will generally require the help of a professional and is something that you should think about during the construction of your website. Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process of tuning your website so that the search engines such as Google, Yahoo, K9, Altavista, Ask Jeeves, etc. will both find your web site and rank your site high enough that people will find you. Your web master may or may not be competent to help you with this. A whole industry of SEO consultants has sprung up to handle this. Some SEO consultants are knowledgeable and some are not. If you decide to use an SEO consultant, make sure that you bring him or her into your web design process early. It is cheaper to build in Search Engine Optimization than to add it as an after thought.

How do search engines find your site?

Search engines have programs called 'spiders' or 'bots' that read all of the pages in a web site and store these pages on the search engines own database. They typically start with your home page and follow all of your internal links to the rest of your pages. Having a site map page that is accessible from your home page is a great way for both your human visitors and your spider visitors to find all of the pages in your web site. Test all of your links. Broken links will keep the spiders from finding your pages and will indicate that your site is less than a quality site. This will hurt your search engine rankings.

The spiders will also follow all of the external links on your web site looking for new web sites and web pages. So, if you have managed to exchange links with a web site that is already listed in a search engine, the spiders will find your site.

You can also submit your site to the search engines for free. Don't pay a service to submit your site to thousands of search engines. See our links page for a list of site submission addresses for the major search engines.

You can submit your site to a directory. Directories are different than search engines. Directories are human monitored listings of web sites that are categorized by topic The most important of these is the one that is run by the Open Source Project. The search engine spiders visit this site frequently and follow the links listed in the directory. Having your site listed in a reputable directory gives your site a higher value to the search engines, because a human editor has looked at your site and deemed it worthy of inclusion in the directory.

Be patient. It may take one to three months for a search engine spider to visit your site, catalog and index the information in your site, and present your site in the search results. Submitting your site to a search engine or directory multiple times will not speed up the process. Remember, there are millions of web sites that are being scanned every day.

How does a search engine work?

When a user keys in a search word or phrase, and presses enter, the search engine returns a list of all of the web pages in its database that contain that search word or phrase. These pages are listed in an order that the search engine hopes will provide the most relevant sites at the top of the list. So, how do search engines determine which sites are the most relevant to the search word. The short answer is that nobody knows for sure. If your SEO consultant says that he or she does, and tells you that they can guarantee that your website will get listed in the top ten search results, find another one. The search engine owners don't want anybody to know how they work, and keep their methodologies very secret.

This makes sense. If everyone knew how the search engines determined relevancy then all sites would do exactly the same things and there would be no way for the search engines to ultimately determine relevancy to search words. Good SEO consultants and webmasters spend a lot of time experimenting to try to figure out what works and what doesn't. The search engine technicians keep changing and tweaking their methods to plug the holes that the SEO consultants find.

Some general things are known and most search engines will give some guidance on how to properly construct a search engine friendly web site. Google has two pages www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html and www.google.com/webmasters/faq.html. Yahoo's help page is help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/basics/basics-18.html, MSN's tips are at www.submit-it.com/subopt.htm and Teoma/Ask Jeeves help is at ask.ineedhits.com/faq.asp. Some typical guidance from Yahoo:

"Pages Yahoo! Wants Included in its Index

Unfortunately, not all web pages contain information that is valuable to a user. Some pages are created deliberately to trick the search engine into offering inappropriate, redundant or poor-quality search results; this is often called "spam." Yahoo! does not want these pages in the index."

Content is King

As you can see from the Yahoo guidance, web pages and web sites that contain useful information should get higher rankings in the search results. Search engine spiders and bots cannot read pictures, javascript, flash, or sounds. They can only read text. Words that you put on navigation buttons, header graphics, logos, etc. are ignored by the search engines. To see how a spider views your web page, go to www.seo-kit.com and use their spider simulator.

Good content, that is, useful content helps you get links to your site. When you ask another web site owner to add your link to their web site, they will look at your site. If they don't think that your site will benefit their visitors, they probably won't link to your site. When you submit your website to a directory, the editor will look over your website. If they find your site lacking in useful or unique information, they may not list your site in their directory.

So where do you get content for your web site? You know your products and services. You can write your own original material or hire a copy writer to write it for you. Alternatively, you can use all of the free content that is available. This includes just about any thing that the U.S. Government has published and any work whose copyright has expired. It is good form to give credit to your source and not present the work as your own. There are also syndication services that provide content. A lot of writers will give their work away just to get notoriety. Some of these syndications services are free and some require payments. Look at our Links page for partial list of these content resources.

Remember to keep your web site legal. Honor the copyright lows. See our Site Design page for a discussion of copyright.

What are Keywords?

Keywords are the words and phrases that people use when they are trying to find information in a search engine. When you write the text for your web page, keep in mind two or three key phrases that embody the theme of the page. Use keywords and key phrases that you think other people would search with to find your site. To test the frequency of use of key words and key phrases you can use the key work selector tool at searchmarketing.yahoo.com/rc/srch/.The recommended density of your key words in the text is 4-8% Search engines seem to like key words that are emphasized with bold text or italics or are used in page headings.

What is Metadata?

Metadata or Meta tags are HTML code that is in the heading of your web page that is not visible in your web browser. To see the Meta tags in a web page use the View->Source options of your favorite web browser. These Meta tags were originally created to inform the search engines what the web page was about. This worked pretty good until the SEO consultants started abusing them, stuffing them with long lists of irrelevant keywords to fool the search engines. The search engines not look to see if the keywords in the Meta tags are actually used in the text on the page. There are three Meta tags that you should be concerned with

The contents of the Meta Title is displayed by your browser at the top of the browser page. Your Meta Title should contain your primary keyword for the page at a recommended density of between 25-35% and should be limited to about 50 characters. To be effective, your Meta Title should be different for each page because each page should cover a different topic and should therefore have a different keyword emphasis.

The Meta Keyword tag contains a list of the keywords that are relevant to the content of your page. This list want to be limited to about 250 characters, with your primary key word having a recommended density of between 25-35%. This list should be different on each of your web pages.

The Meta Description tag contains a description of your web page. This description is used by the search engines and is typically displayed on the search results page under the title of your page. This is your opportunity to tell the search engine users about your page in about 250 characters. Your description should entice them to visit your web page. Make sure your keywords are used in the description with a recommended density of between 25-35%.

What are Hyperlinks?

Hyperlinks are text in the body of your web page that you or your web developer have assigned a web address to using an href HTML tag. The web address is not displayed in your browser. When you click on a hyperlink you are immediately transferred to the web address specified in the href HTML tag. If these hyperlink point to web pages that are not in your website, you will want the hyperlink to tell your browser to open a new browser window for the new page. You don't want your visitors to leave your website, just to visit the other website. These hyperlinks can be used to point your users to other pages in your web site for further information. Search engines seem to like to see your key words used in hyperlinks.