WINDOWS Magazine, July 1997
Rev Up the Web for Free || Editor Mike Elgan on the Web ||
Message Exchange || Reviews and Related Resources || July Issue ||
Go to Cover Story Online Front Page



Well Connected
Browsers Get Better
Perfect Plug-Ins
Useful Utilities
Find It Fast
Cookie Monsters
Search Success

Modem Mastery
Quick Connections
Ready, Willing and Cable
Tune In to the Web

If You Build It, They Will Come
Construction Sites
Picture This
Sounds Good
Action ... Reaction
The Next HTML

A Host of Hosts
Serve Yourself
Watch What Gets In
Know Who's Visiting
Find a Gracious Host
Get Surfers to 'Hit' on You

The Top 20 Business Sites

Get Surfers To 'Hit' on You
Search engines hold the key to maximum exposure.

Your home page may be one in a million, but without effective online promotion, it's just another URL. The world is far more likely to beat a path to your Web site if it's easy to find. Most users begin their Web-surfing adventures at their favorite search engine, so get a jump on the competition by maximizing your site's exposure to major search sites.

Find yourself. Sites that rank high in search returns receive the most visits. Search for your own site with specific queries, and see how close you come to the top of the list. If you don't make the first page of results, check the sites that do for ideas on improving your ratings. Broken links mean certain death in the ratings game. Such misfired links can confuse search engine spiders, and sometimes cause them to drop you from an index. (A spider is an intelligent agent that explores the Web and returns site information to the engine's search index.)

Register early. Don't wait for spiders to come crawling. All major sites let you request that a spider crawl your site; most will visit within a few weeks of your request. Look for links marked "Add URL" or "Register your site" and follow the directions.

Register often. Some spiders often don't explore more than a few levels down from their entry point, so they may miss the meat of a site if it's buried several menus beneath the home page. To overcome this problem, register each key page on your site, unless the search engine's documentation specifies that it crawls every page of your site. And, because many sites weigh the freshness of information when determining the relevance of query results, invite spiders over often. And be sure to extend the invitation to all the major search tools-AltaVista, Excite, HotBot, InfoSeek, Lycos, Magellan, WebCrawler and Yahoo, for starters.

InfoSeek offers one of the fastest returns on a search request; you can search for your site within seconds of submitting a URL. The service also lets you register multiple URLs at a time.

Update your pages frequently. InfoSeek, and other major search engines, will schedule re-crawls of pages based on the degree of change they encounter. If you regularly perform massive updates on your page, it will get more frequent visits than a static page and likely will rank higher in search results.

Use meta tags properly. Meta tags, descriptive phrases that add searchable codes to HTML code, ensure that accurate site descriptions make it into the search engine's index to push your site ahead of others. The description meta tag, for example, can offer one or two sentences illustrating the contents of your entire site.

Don't spam. Spamming, or loading meta tags and home pages with hundreds of repetitions of popular search phrases, used to be a good way to push your site high in the relevancy scores. But today's spiders are a lot smarter and will often ignore spamdexed pages or drop repeat offenders from a search engine index.

Make friends at other sites. The more links from other pages to your site, the higher it will rank in most engines' relevancy scores. Some engines, such as WebCrawler and AltaVista, offer backward searches that let you count the direct links to your site. Their advanced search guides will show you how.