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Search Submit - Tips & Tricks

The purpose of this document is to provide you with background information on search engine technology and some Tips on how to get your Web site to appear on the result pages of search engines and directories. We are by no means promising any miracles. However, this information will help you better understand search engines and directories and will hopefully serve to put you in a better position than you currently are in now.

  1. What is a search engine?
  2. How do search engines differ from directories, announcement sites, and guides on the Web?
  3. General Tips for Getting Listed in Search Engines
  4. Indexing Characteristics Specific To Individual Search Engines
  5. How long does it take a Search Engine to list my site?
  6. Why should I submit inside pages of my site?
  7. How do I optimize my announcement with a directory?
  8. When will I need to inform search engines and directories of updates to my Web pages?
  9. "Non-Netiquette" Things
  10. How else can I promote my site?

1. What is a search engine?

Search engines utilize indexing software agents often called robots or spiders. These agents are programmed to constantly "crawl" the Web in search of new or updated pages. They will essentially go from URL to URL until they have visited every Web site on the Internet.

When visiting a Web site, an agent will record the full text of every page (home and sub-pages) within the site. It will then continue on to visit all external links. Following these external links is how search engines are able to find your site regardless of whether or not you register your URL with them. Submitting your URL, however, does speed up the process. It notifies an agent to visit and index your site instead of waiting for it to eventually locate you through one of your external links.

Robots will then revisit your site periodically to refresh the recorded information. The revisiting of links is the reason why some search engines don't require you to inform them of dead links. Eventually, their robot would try unsuccessfully to update the information on a dead link and realize it no longer exists.

Finally, an easy way to tell whether a Web index is a search engine as opposed to another type of directory is by the information it requires when adding your URL. A true search engine will only need the Web address. The indexing agent takes care of the rest.

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2. How do search engines differ from directories, announcement sites, and guides on the Web?

Directories:
The main difference between a search engine and a general directory is that a directory will not list your URL if you do not register it with them. They do not make use of indexing software agents and so have no way of knowing it's out there. As a result, their registration form will be considerably longer than just your URL. Directories are usually subdivided into categories and you have to submit your URL under the most appropriate heading.

Announcement Site:
The explosion of sites being added daily to the Web has created a need for announcement sites that track all of the new sites that join the Internet. Announcement sites are not only useful for Webmasters and marketers to kick-off their online promotion campaign, but also for users to keep current on what's happening with the WWW. Depending on the announcement site, different Internet documents can be announced -- new web pages, new articles as well as new resources. The time period policy also differs from announcement site to announcement site, but all "announcements" are posted for a temporary period of time. Once removed from the What's New section, most announcement sites archive these pages so users can continue to access them.

Guides & Cool Sites:
Guides are quickly becoming an important source for finding interesting and useful sites on the Web. In general, Guides review and rate only a small percentage of all sites submitted. Therefore, make sure your site is "rate-worthy" before posting. Most of the guides allow reviewed sites to use their special icons as a sign of quality. Cool sites usually select one new Web site every day. Getting selected as a cool site will attract high traffic, but that traffic will usually only be experienced for a temporary period of time.

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3. General Tips for Getting Listed in Search Engines

Each search engine looks at different elements of your page, therefore we highly recommend implementing as many of these Tips as possible.

a. Use keywords in the <TITLE> of your document making it as descriptive as possible. When visiting your site, an agent will go first to the <TITLE> tag. For clarification purposes, the <TITLE> tag is what a browser will display in its title bar and is not simply the first line of HTML that shows up on your page. (Although your first words of introductory text should be descriptive as well). Search engines will display the text located between the <TITLE> tags when your web page is listed in a search. By making your <TITLE> descriptive, you'll be better off than those who only have keywords within the text of their page. It will also be helpful when people bookmark your web site. If a more descriptive name appears in a person's hotlist, it will be easier to find your site at a later date.

For example, instead of using <TITLE> Suncorp </TITLE> as the title of Suncorp's home page, <TITLE> Suncorp: Tanning Supplier </TITLE> would be much more descriptive. It would also place greater emphasis or relevancy on "Tanning Supplier" when calculating keywords.

b. Descriptive Page Text Search engines assign greater relevancy to text located at the top of a page than to text located in the middle or at the bottom of the page. The search engines assume that web page authors will present their most important information first. If your page has a main graphic at the top, you should place some descriptive text either underneath or beside the image. The search engines will index this text and assign it a high level of relevancy.

c. Use <META> tags which allow you to provide even more detail about your Web pages and thereby gain greater control over how your pages are indexed. Not all search engines make use of <META> tags, but adding these tags to your pages will make them more accessible to the search engines that do.

<META> tag codes are inserted within the <HEAD> </HEAD> tags. The basic syntax is:

<META name="description" content="a health and fitness center located in Atlanta">

This will control what appears as the summary of your Web page and will be displayed after the title of your document in the index listing. The content of the description should clearly convey what one can expect to find when linking to your site.

<META name="keywords" content="running, weight control, nutrition, aerobics, cholesterol, Georgia">

This will allow you to provide extra information about your page to the search engines without it being visible to the reader. While search engines do take these keywords into account when indexing your page, they are still going to index the entire contents of your page as many sites do not include <META> tags. Since this is the case, there is no need to be redundant. Include keywords that will not necessarily be derived when a robot visits your site. In other words, "health" and "fitness" need not be included in your list of keywords as it is part of your <TITLE>. Robots index both the description and keyword <META> tag contents as searchable words. Hence, your site will come up in a search if someone typed in "nutrition" or "health center" from your description. One way to maximize the usefulness of keywords is to incorporate singular and plural cases of words as well as active and passive verbs. For example, diet, diets, and dieting will yield similar but somewhat varying results in a search. Since you're able through tags, why not guarantee you come up on all of them.

Do not, however, excessively repeat keywords in a keyword <META> tag as search engines may penalize you for this. At present, InfoSeek and Lycos are two such examples and others may adopt similar policies in the future. The penalty will most likely be the spider disregarding the <META> tag and extracting keywords from the content of your page- as is usually the case. However, some Submit It! users have reported being dropped from a search engine's database and felt keyword repetition played a role in the removal of their listing.

Who should definitely make use of <META> tags?

Sites using Netscape frames:
The main HTML file contains the <FRAMESET> tags, but fails to provide robots with any real useful information for selecting a Web site's abstract. Therefore you should include a description summarizing the contents of the frames on your page with <META> tags.

Sites using Javascript at the top of their page:
If JavaScript code makes up the first several hundred characters on your page, you should use <META> tags to provide a description for your page. An indexing agent's search logic is programmed to place more emphasis on the text located at the top of your page than the content it combs through towards the bottom.

d. Use ALT tags especially if your site contains multiple photos or graphic-image maps at the top of your home page. Some search engines will take into account the text within an ALT tag when creating your site's description and keywords. In addition, you will be greatly appreciated by all people who visit your site with their Auto Load Images option turned off or by those who prefer to use character browsers.

ALT tags are placed after an image file and generally look like the following:

<img src="/images/submits.gif" alt="Submit It! : Web site marketing services and tools.">

e. If your site utilizes frames, you should be aware that search engines treat frames as if they are links within your main page. As a result the engines will review and index your main page and, at a later date, return to index each individual frame just as it will return to index all other internal links within your web site. Therefore, in order to have your main page (typically titled index.htm or ) indexed accurately and efficiently, we recommend that you add some descriptive text between the <noframes> and </noframes> tags of the HTML source coding of your main page. The noframes tags are usually placed below your frame set information. The frame set information is designated by <frameset> and </frameset>. This text should include your most important keywords and keyword phrases. Adding this text will provide the search engines with content from which to derive keywords for indexing. After this change has been made to your Web site, the page itself will appear exactly the same to anyone using a browser that supports frames. However, users of browsers that do not support frames (i.e. Netscape 1.0 or lower) will now be able to successfully view your home page.

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4. Indexing Characteristics Specific To Individual Search Engines

Excite
At the present time, Excite does not make use of <META> tags. Since keywords and summaries are automatically generated by Excite, you have less control over their creation. However, there are still a few things you can do.

Excite's software looks for common words or themes within a page. It then selects sentences for the summary that either contain these words or convey the overall theme. The words within these sentences are also used as keywords for which the site can be searched.

  1. Especially at the beginning of your page, be as concise as possible and limit non-descriptive sentences. If the Excite robot comes across a number of ambiguous phrases, it will have to look deeper and deeper into your site to determine its theme and site summary. Along the same line, too little text will also force the robot to travel further into the site for more information in order to establish a theme.
  2. Excite's indexing software places preference on complete, punctuated sentences. If you have content, such as a quote, at the top of your page that you do not want Excite to include in your site summary, do not display it as a complete sentence. This will lessen the chance that the quote will be included, but will not guarantee its exclusion.
HotBot / Inktomi
  1. HotBot supports both the keywords and description <META> tags.
  2. If you strongly believe that your site was not ranked as high as you thought it deserved in a search query, HotBot allows you to send them an email to bugs@hotbot.com. Be sure to include the URL of the search page.
InfoSeek
  1. InfoSeek supports both the keywords and description <META> tags. Your description can include up to 200 characters of text and the keywords can include up to 1000 characters of text. Do not repeat versions of a keyword more than seven times. If you do, InfoSeek will disregard the entire keyword list.
  2. If you do not make use of the description <META> tag, InfoSeek's agent will simply insert the first 200 characters after the <BODY> tag as the web page description. Hence, if your Web document does not contain <META> tags, at least try to make your first 200 words accurately describe your Web site.
  3. InfoSeek also indexes the ALT attribute in the <IMG> tag. If the majority of your home page consists of graphics, you can describe your page with the ALT attribute.

The syntax for an <IMG> tag code is:

<IMG SRC="/images/clinton.gif" ALT="picture of President Clinton">

InfoSeek Ultra
InfoSeek Ultra will make use of <META> tags allowing you to control the description that appears in a search result as well as guide its web indexing in the selection of your site's keywords. If you do not make use of <META> tags, Ultra will simply use the first few words it comes across as your Web site summary.

Lycos
Lycos creates Web site titles and descriptions from the text of your Web page. Lycos' search agent selects a portion of the site that well represents its theme. It then displays this section as the site's description.

The keywords are also chosen via artificial intelligence by Lycos' spider. With this in mind, do not open your page with an image map. If you do, Lycos will not be able to take an abstract for your document.

WebCrawler
WebCrawler relies on the statement within the <TITLE> tag to use for the name of your page. While other search engines will derive a summary from the <BODY> text of the document, Web Crawler will default to the URL if you fail to include a title.

In conclusion, do not make it your goal to appear in the top ten list of every search engine. This would not only be a very difficult task, but would most likely end in disappointment. You are virtually guaranteed to have varying success rates with different search engines due to the collection of variables that play a role in every search result. These variables include size of database, method used for determining relevancy, policy on spamming, use of <META> tags and more. Hence, optimize your listings by capitalizing on the indexing criteria shared by search engines. If you have a favorite or preferred search engine that you feel strongly about being yielded as high as possible in a search, customize your Web pages accordingly. Just keep in mind that this might lessen your perceived relevancy on another.

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5. How long does it take a Search Engine to list my site?

Many of the search engines take time to list a site. The approximate time it may take a search engine to list your site is:

1-2 weeks: Altavista, Infoseek
2-4 weeks: Excite, HotBot, Lycos, Webcrawler
6-8 weeks: Yahoo

If after the time listed in the chart above has elapsed and you are still not finding your site listed, you should re-submit your URL to the search engines that do not have your listing. It often takes more than one submission to get the best results.

Search engines receive tens of thousands of submissions every day. On days when the submission level is above normal, a certain number of submissions can be received properly but still not get listed. If your listing is not appearing on a certain search engine, you should resubmit it.

For the FAQ pages of individual search engines, please see the following links:

Altavista
Excite
HotBot
Infoseek
Lycos
Webcrawler

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6. Why should I submit inside pages of my site?

When considering how many pages of your site to promote, it is important to remember directories generally accept one listing per company. This is usually your home or main page. Search engines index multiple pages within a site, but you cannot control which pages they will index unless you submit the individual URLs (pages).

The critical pages to submit are your major topic pages, pages with unique content, or pages that describe a specific product or service. For example, a sports store will have separate pages on basketball, baseball and football which should all be submitted. Another benefit to submitting mulTiple pages in this example is that the basketball page will appear higher in a search for "basketball" than the sports site home page. These pages should also include descriptive title tags and meta tags. In order for site visitors to easily navigate your site, these major topic pages should provide clear links to other topic pages and your home page.

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7. How do I optimize my announcement with a directory?

Since directories are hierarchical databases organized by subject, subject category selection would logically be the most critical aspect of linking your site to a directory. Give some thought to which category(s) your URL should be placed as this location will ensure the right people (those interested in your site) will be visiting your link. URL registrations can quickly become complex process when every directory contains a different sub-categorization scheme.

There unfortunately is no formula or exact method for correctly placing one's site into a subject-oriented guide. However, here are a few Tips:

  1. Do not assume a category (i.e. Entertainment) means the same thing on every directory.
  2. Take the time to drill down within the directory until you come to the subcategory most appropriate for your site. If you find many organizations similar to your own listed, you're probably in the right place.
  3. Do not choose a less fitting category because it's either alphabetically desirable or doesn't contain many other links. If it is not appropriate, there is no reason to believe anyone clicking that category would be interested in visiting your site.
  4. If you cannot find an appropriate category, do not hesitate to suggest a new one. This advice even applies to Yahoo!! Do you think the Yahoo! staff thought of all 22,000 headings all by themselves?

Yahoo:

Since Yahoo! is well ... Yahoo!, it will be discussed separately from the hundreds of other directories included in the SearchSubmit! Service. It actually is unique from all other directories in that you could be listed on Yahoo! without having submitted your URL. They make use of a robot that searches for new sites at certain Internet locations (i.e. announcement sites, etc.). Despite Yahoo!'s implementation of this search robot, mostly all of their new additions still come via their "Add URL" form.

Your Yahoo Submission Made Easy

For Internet users, Yahoo! is one of the more notoriously difficult submission forms to successfully complete. In actuality, the Yahoo! submission form is far from a mind-numbing experience. We have outlined the necessary steps below. If you follow them, it will not only simplify the process for you, but also enable you to gain the greatest advantage possible through your submission.

1. Find your Yahoo category.
From Yahoo's home page, drill down and locate up to 2 Yahoo categories that best describe your Web site. A good indicator that you have found an appropriate sub-category is when you scroll down and see sites already listed that are similar to your own, or, even more so, find a direct competitor! If after searching through a number of Yahoo categories, you still are not sure where to place your site, try searching by a keyword you would want your site to be found under. Existing Yahoo categories will be displayed with the search results.

Tip: Yahoo requires commercial sites to be placed within a Business and Economy subcategory - either under Companies or Products and Services. Personal Home pages must go in the Entertainment/People category. If your site is regionally specific, add it to the appropriate subcategory under the Regional heading category.

Tip: If suggesting more than one category, press the ADD URL icon when on the category of your first choice. Then enter the string of the second category into the Additional Categories field. To avoid making a typo to a long string, copy the URL located within the Address or Location field of your browser. To do this, highlight the text after http://www.yahoo.com/ with your mousse. Right mousse click and release the mouse over 'copy'.
For example:

Business_and_Economy/Companies/Music/ CDs__Records__and_Tapes/Online_Shopping/

2. Click the Suggest A Site hyperlink at the bottom of the screen.
After finding the category you wish your site to be placed within, click the Suggest A Site hyperlink at the bottom of the screen. This will take you to the Yahoo submission form with the Category fields already pre-filled.

3. Fill out the ADD URL Form
Two particularly important fields are the Title and Description fields. Yahoo does not allow you to suggest keywords in their submission form. Instead, it will use both the Title and Description fields to derive search words for your site. Therefore, think carefully about what keywords you want Yahoo to list you under and construct your Title and Description fields around them. Do not, however, just submit keywords separated by commas. Enter complete, coherent phrases/sentences.

Example of a poorly constructed title:
Brian's Music Store

Example of an optimized title:
Brian's Music Store, CD's for sale

Tip: Your title should not exceed 50 characters (including spacing).

Example of a poorly constructed Description:
Click to this page to listen to a wide variety of music sure to fit your interest.

Example of an optimized Description:
Pop, Rock, New Age and Alternative CD's. Many artists, your favorite music, CD's on sale.

Tip: Your description should not exceed 20 words or 200 characters (including spacing).

Yahoo has employees visit the URL of submissions to verify that the category you selected is appropriate and that the title and description are accurate. As a result, do not exaggerate what is located on your site. In the end, your site will simply not get listed.

4. Click the Submit button.
Once you have completed the form, click the Submit button to send your Web site information to Yahoo. If the form has been filled out properly, Yahoo will display a screen that thanks you for the submission. If there is an error in the submission form, Yahoo will display a screen informing you that the submission has failed and, depending on the error, tells you why the submission failed. In the case of a failure, press the Back key on your browser, make the necessary changes and resubmit.

5. Check your listing
Yahoo states that it should take two weeks for your site to be listed. They recommend you do a search for your URL. If your site is not listed, then resubmit your entry using the Add URL function in Yahoo. For more information, check out Where's My Site on Yahoo.

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8. When will I need to inform search engines and directories of updates to my Web pages?

Here are some general rules and indicators for knowing when you need to make updates to your listings. For more detailed information on the process involved in making updates to each directory, consult the Submission Hints and Tips accessible within the Submit It! Gold and Pro versions.

For search engines: Make updates to listing:

  • If your URL changes, you will need to resubmit. Some search engines have Dead Link forms for you to fill out. Those that do not will drop the old URL from its records the next time it tries to visit your site at the old address and is unable to find it.
  • If the content of your site changes so extensively that the abstract no longer adequately describes your site. These changes, however, will be taken into account when the indexing agent next visits your site to refresh its information. Resubmitting will hasten this process.

For directories: Make updates to listing:

  • If your Web site address (URL), description, or category classification changes, you will need to inform the webmaster of that directory.
  • If your category classification has changed and you are now inaccurately located within the directory's index

Do not make updates to listing:

  • If there has been minor changes made within the site which do not alter the site's description. If the content or purpose of the site remains the same, you are not misleading anyone who chooses to visit your site based on the original description.

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9. "Non-Netiquette" Things

There are several "tricky" things you can do to try to get your URL listed higher or more times on a search engine results page. We are listing these alternatives, but are in no way recommending them as these Web site promotion methods may be viewed as "cheating" by some members of the Internet community. In fact, some of the search engines are starting to penalize people that use these tricks. The reason why we list these tricks is to help you understand why some sites always show up multiple times or always at the top.

  • Placing mass amounts of hidden keywords <!software manufacturer, software manufacturer,...> at the bottom of your document. Search engines calculate keywords by how many times they appear on a page. It is important to be aware that search engines may penalize you for excessively repeating keywords. At present, InfoSeek and Lycos are two examples and others may adopt similar policies in the future.
  • Changing your name to A1 Enterprises or !Rob's Restaurant in order to appear at the top. Our suggestion is that you pick something descriptive instead. You might appear at the top by changing your name, but be skipped over because the new one does not evoke a professional or trustworthy company image.
  • Changing your <TITLE> regularly so when robots revisit your site to refresh their information, they will interpret the new title to mean the existence of a new site. The result being your page will be listed more than once in a search.

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10. How else can I promote my site?

For additional information on search engine indexing, check out Internet.com's Search Engine Watch written by Danny Sullivan.