Search Engine Basics

It's worth understanding the search engine basics before you get started promoting your website. Alicia Harper talks about search engine basics in this series of articles, continued on her website.


Unfortunately getting your website up in the Search Engines is not as simple as paying someone $45 to submit your site to a gazillion search engines. Those advertisements you see all over the internet, that tell you they can submit your site to a gazillion search engines for the low cost of whatever the price is. They might be able to submit them but will the search engines actually consider them? The answer is, they might but, chances are the search engines they are submitting to might not be of any use to you. It's just a clever ploy to get your hard earned cash. The best way to go about it is do it the hard way. Now everyone has heard about Search Engine Optimization and has or knows someone who has employed a SEO company, and their site either got up on the search engines with good rankings or not. My personal experience is the company I hired was able to get my site on the front page of both MSN and Yahoo but, no Google and all for the price of $1200. If you are a small business owner, as I am , then you know that $1200 for advertising is a lot of money. The truth is the best way to get your site up on the search engines with good rankings is to do it yourself. It might be hard and time-consuming but worth it in the long run. A lot of SEO companies trick the search engines into listing your sites high but in the end your website might be banned for using those tricks, so why take that chance? Through a series of articles I am going to show you how to get search engines to list your sites and how to get good rankings.

Before you can understand Search Engine Optimization you must first learn how the search engines work. First you need to know the definiton of a few terms that are used to describe how we get the search results. You need to know the difference between a search engine, a directory, a search site and search system. There is a lot of confusion among these terms. The good news is I am about to de-mystify it.

Search Engines

They obtain their information from a database that has been feed to them by a search system. When you enter a search term, for example:" small business in Vancouver" the search engine sends out robots or spiders to scour the database for those words. They use complex algorithms to hopefully give you the most relevant information first. A search engine also provides you with information that was in individual sites as opposed to information about the site. For example I searched in Google for "small business in Vancouver" and the third listing that came up was "Soho.ca - Grow your business- small business medium business…The most popular roundtable event in Vancouver…Last month sold out." Soho.ca - Grow your small business is the title of the website and the rest is actually text from within the site.

Directory

A directory is usually broken into categories. You can submit your site usually to directories by entering your site's information and choosing an appropriate category. A Directory supplies information about the website as opposed to information that is in the website. An example of a directory would be the BC business directory. I searched it for "website design" and one of the results I received was "Destination University- An educational resource website designed by an Abbotsford student for Canadian high school students looking for higher education in Canada". This result told me who made the site and who its target audience was but, not any information from within the site.

Search Site

A search site is a website that allows you to search through an index or directory of websites. It could let you search through multiple indexes or directories. The difference between a search site and a search engine is that the search site usually uses the results of a search engine, not its own results.

Search system

A search system is an organization that uses software and hardware to index or categorize websites on the world wide web. An example of a search system would the Open Directory Project.

Now that you understand the terms used and what exactly they mean, we can move on and show you why this all matters. People on the web use Search Engines, this is fact and why not? This is an extremely easy way to find information you are looking for at your fingertips.

Everyone has heard of Google, MSN, Yahoo and AOL. Let's look at how they get their results when you search from their sites.

Google has its own search system. It is the largest search engine and its results actually feed other search engines such as, AOL, Netscape and Ask Jeeves. Now you know when you search AOL where your results are coming from. They are coming from Google's search system. AOL also gets results from the Open Directory Project. MSN has it's own search system on top of getting results from Yahoo. Yahoo also has its own search system and gets results from the Open Directory Project. The bottom line here is that The Open Directory Project is a very important search system because it feeds a lot of other smaller search engines. Although not that many people have heard of it getting your site listed in it would be a high priority. Google also would be priority to have your site listed in. Yahoo would be one of the top search engines to be listed in as it currently only feeds MSN but, is still very competitive and many people use it.

Now I know you are wondering what about some other the smaller search engines. The truth is don't bother with them as they are feed by the larger search systems and if they get listed then they will be automatically included in the smaller search engines anyways. You may be thinking, why do I need to know all this? Trust me, you do if you would like your site to rank high and if you are doing it yourself. Knowing this information will make it easier for you to understand how to get your site up in the search engines and you'll need visitors for your website, and what a better way to get them but FREE.

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