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How To Turn The Search Engines Into Find Engines

May 15, 2008
I have created quite a large number of websites, and if, like me, you have spent hours building yours, then it can be a thankless task when it comes to waiting for customers to hit your virtual door. Like any overnight success, it can take weeks or even months for your website to start to gain popularity unless you have the benefit of advertising in other areas, such as banner adverts, posters, flyers and so on. For the average site builder, the date of publication can come and go as though all your hard work has made no difference to the value of the internet.

After some time you will, almost certainly, start to welcome a few visitors to your site, and maybe a few of them will spend their hard earned money there as well. But you'll probably find that you get terribly excited if you have a few visitors, and a little dejected when you start to work out how much the current rate of visitors will earn you, and dreams of the Mediterranean cruise next month might have to be put on hold. If this sounds familiar, ask yourself what you have actually done to ensure that your site does become a success? Other than a slick design, nice graphics and a catchy address, what practical measures have you employed to ensure success?

One thing that you may have done is to browse through the internet and find information on how to promote your site, or tips on 'optimizing' it. You are almost certainly aware of the fact that to be successful on the internet you really need the search engines on your side. Having your site listed by Google, MSN and Yahoo for example is going to make a big difference to your site. But, what will make a far bigger difference is the overall rank of your website.

When people search the internet using a search engine, the list of results is ordered by rank. The higher the rank of your site, the closer to the top, on the first page, your website will be. If people enter the keywords 'alcohol free whiskey', and this is what your site sells, then you would hope that your website would be fairly near the top, or at the top, and definitely on the first page of results. On Google, a search for 'alcohol free whiskey' actually brings up 216,000 results, which at ten results per page is well over 21,000 pages. Incredibly, only 3% of people ever look past the first page of results. That means that 10 website owners will enjoy the company of 97% of visitors, whilst 215,990 website owners will only ever see 3% between them.

Possibly you might have heard of tips or companies that can rocket your website skywards and make sure your site is listed right near the top. Perhaps you've tried a few of these tips, and wondered why your site didn't suddenly become the hottest place on the net? Maybe you even forked out a small fortune on a company that promised you the world and delivered you maybe a few places higher, rocketing you all the way from 164,378th place to 153,735th? Yes, 10,000 places higher, but the only difference is that number. Remember, unless you're on the first page of results, it makes almost no difference where you are, so even if they had rocketed you to 1000th place, it still isn't go to make much difference to your business. The thing is, that there is no single way of achieving this, and any company that takes your money on the premise that there is, is one to avoid. There are a whole range of factors, many of which are easily achievable yourself in a few hours, or even minutes. The other thing to remember is that this progress in rank doesn't happen overnight. For many reasons, search engines don't respond to changes immediately, and it can takes many months to achieve a high rank.

Some of the factors which will influence how well your site is ranked include keywords. Search engines scan the documents that make up your website, and catalogue the keywords which occur within it. This helps them to judge the relevance of your site compared to others and to keyword searches. It used to be relatively easy to reach the top of the search results simply by inserting hundreds of keywords all over your site. This now no longer has the effect it did, and there are many other factors which have much more influence. How many people link to your site is a big factor - obviously the more people linking to you, the more popular your site, and the more credibility is gains in the eyes of the search engines, and so your site will rise up the ranks.

Because as web designers we can sometimes become a little too close to our designs, and sometimes don't just need to step back away from our glitzy masterpiece, we need someone else to take a good hard look and give us some feedback. Invariably these people like to be paid, but I have come across a nifty little site that offers a free assessment of your site. Although it's free, it's carried out by hand, and their advice is pretty thorough. They don't just focus on keywords, but look at a whole range of ways in which your site could be made friendlier towards the search engines, and get ranked higher. If you haven't tried them already, I'd recommend getting a review of your site for free. Even if your site has been around for a long time, or if it's brand new, they'll tell you all the things you could do to help improve your rank position.

It can often be quite obscure little changes that you wouldn't think of - such as the position of the text on the page, the number of menu links and outside links you have, the length of your sentences and so on. Knowing what you can do to help get your website noticed is a massive step toward getting up towards that golden first page. I have a number of websites, and I can't say I have always tried every single bit of advice, but even by applying a few which suit me, I have noticed that my sites are climbing higher. Don't forget, no one ever gets overnight top rank placement, and your eventual position will depend largely on the number of keyword competitors you have, but I'd certainly recommend getting your site checked out, after all, it's free!
About the Author
No site traffic? Buried on page 10? If you want to be found by Google and the rest of the major search engines, you need to have an optimised website. Find out how easy it is to have a free evaluation and make your website profitable now.
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