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Part 4. After Your Site Is Built > Search Engine Submission

Search Engine Submission

The guidelines for submitting to search engines are completely different from the guidelines for submitting to directories. With directories, a human editor evaluates your web site and ensures that it is placed in the most appropriate category. With search engines, no editors or categories are involved. In fact, over time, many search engines find a site without a direct submission guiding them.

Search engines begin finding web pages through lists of heavily used servers from major Internet Service Providers (ISPs). They also find web pages through the most frequently visited web directories, such as Yahoo!. Because the major web directories are a starting point for many search engine spiders, submitting your site to directories is actually the first step in effective search engine submission. The popularity boost can greatly affect search engine visibility.

Planning a Search Engine Submission Campaign

Many web site owners feel that they get maximum search engine visibility by having every single page on their site listed well in the search engines. This belief is a common misconception. Every page on a web site does not have to be optimized to obtain effective search engine visibility. In fact, many successful small business sites need only 20–25 optimized pages, and larger sites usually do not need more than 200 optimized pages.

The first pages you should submit to the search engines are the ones that are properly optimized. The first one on the list should be your home page. Some search engines ask only for your home page URL, opting to spider the rest of your site from the home page. Always be sure that your home page is properly optimized.

To get optimal visibility in search engine results, keywords and keyword phrases must be placed strategically throughout your web pages. To summarize, keywords need to be placed in the following locations:

  • Title tags

  • Visible body text

  • Anchor text

  • Within or near hypertext links

  • Meta tags

  • Alternative text

As discussed in Part 2, title tags, visible body text, and anchor text are considered primary text because all the major search engines place a great deal of emphasis on this text. Meta tags and alternative text are considered secondary text because not all search engines read and record this text.

To ensure that the search engines can find your optimized pages, your site designer should provide multiple means for the search engine spiders to find those pages. Effective cross-linking within your site is beneficial for both your site’s visitors and the search engine spiders. If cross-linking is too difficult or time consuming to implement, creating and submitting a site map gives spiders access to many URLs within your site.

As stated, begin search engine submission with your home page and other optimized pages. In general, submit anywhere from one to fifty web pages at a time, depending on the search engine guidelines. Some search engines accept only five pages per day. Some search engines accept more. Always fall within the submission limits the search engines publish on their own sites.

Additionally, do not submit and then resubmit a web page to the search engines within one 24-hour period, even if you made legitimate changes to it. To a site owner, the change is a legitimate one, particularly if the page contained typographical errors. However, a search engine spider cannot determine that the submission of the same page within a 24-hour period is due to an honest mistake. To the search engines, the submission appears to be spam. So be patient, and wait a few days if you find that you made errors in your submission.

With free submissions, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for your pages to appear in the search results. If your search engine marketing campaign has specific deadlines, using pay-for-inclusion programs and pay-per-click search engines are your best options because of their quick turnaround time.

However, to succeed with both paid-inclusion programs and pay-per-click search engines, you need to remember their unique characteristics. Pages submitted to paid-inclusion programs must be properly optimized for them to rank well. Select only your best optimized, most targeted pages for paid-inclusion programs.

Effective pay-per-click advertising involves careful keyword research and selection as well as the writing of a series of ads. Designing appropriate landing pages for your pay-per-click advertising is also essential. Design landing pages and write a series of ads before you sign up for any pay-per-click program.

Search Engine Submission Checklist

To avoid possible spam penalties and wasted time and effort, review your site using the following checklist to be sure that the site is ready for submission:

□ Yes □ No Are you creating web pages with content your target audience is genuinely interested in reading?
□ Yes □ No Does your content contain highly focused keyword phrases rather than phrases that are too general and competitive?
□ Yes □ No Are you optimizing your web pages for at least three to five keywords at a time?
□ Yes □ No Are you using regionally specific keywords, when applicable?
□ Yes □ No Are you using the most commonly used variations of your keywords, based on your keyword research?
□ Yes □ No Does each optimized page contain a unique title?
□ Yes □ No Are you using multiple keywords in your title tags (using the power combo strategy) when appropriate?
□ Yes □ No Are your most important keywords
  1. (a) appearing above the fold and

  2. (b) throughout each optimized page?

□ Yes □ No Are you using keywords in hypertext links, whenever possible?
□ Yes □ No Does each optimized page have at least one call to action?
□ Yes □ No Does each optimized page contain a unique meta-tag description?
□ Yes □ No Do your meta-tag descriptions contain both targeted keyword phrases and a call to action?
□ Yes □ No Does each optimized page contain a unique meta-tag keyword list?
□ Yes □ No Does each set of meta-tag keywords contain words and phrases that you actually use within the visible body text?
□ Yes □ No Do you place common misspellings of your keywords within your meta-tag keywords?
□ Yes □ No Do your graphic images contain descriptive keywords within the alternative text attribute, when appropriate?
□ Yes □ No Do you provide at least two means of navigating your site: one for your visitors and one for the search engines?
□ Yes □ No Does your site have a site map, to assist both your visitors and the search engine spiders?
□ Yes □ No If your site uses frames, is your site navigable with and without the frameset?
□ Yes □ No If you are using JavaScript on your site, did you place the JavaScript in an external .js file and place the Robots Exclusion Protocol on that file?
□ Yes □ No If you are using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) on your site, did you place the style sheets in an external .css file?
□ Yes □ No Do you have any redirects on your site? If so, have you placed the Robots Exclusion Protocol on pages that use redirects?
□ Yes □ No Are your optimized pages placed in the root directory (along with your home page) on your web server?
□ Yes □ No Is your robots.txt file placed in the root directory on your web server? Did you remember to transfer your robots.txt file before you transferred any other web pages to your server?
□ Yes □ No Are you using subdomains instead of subdirectories if you find that your subdomains contain unique and substantial content?
□ Yes □ No If you are submitting pages to non-U.S. search engines, are you writing your pages in the appropriate language?
□ Yes □ No If it is within your budget, did you submit your optimized pages to pay-for-inclusion (PFI) programs?
□ Yes □ No If you use pay-for-placement (PFP) advertising, are your purchases based on detailed keyword research and selection?
□ Yes □ No If you use PFP advertising, do you carefully monitor your bids to get the best search engine visibility at the most reasonable cost?
□ Yes □ No Did you name your web pages something that your target audience can remember and spell easily, using keywords whenever possible?
□ Yes □ No Did you design or select a series of landing pages for your PFP advertising? If the landing pages do not contain substantially unique content, did you place the Robots Exclusion Protocol on those pages?
□ Yes □ No Do the search engines and your site visitors view the same page? (The only exception to this rule is sites that participate in XML-feed programs.)
□ Yes □ No Do you submit the maximum allowable number of pages per day for each of the major search engines?
□ Yes □ No Do you avoid submitting the same pages twice within a 24-hour period?
□ Yes □ No Do you resubmit to a search engine only if a page has dropped from the index or if a page’s content has changed significantly?

The time between page submission and the addition of the page to the search engine index is called the search engine lead time. You will not see results in your site statistics software until the lead time has passed.

Position Checking Software

Many search engine marketers like to check positions using automated query software to verify whether a page has been added to the search engine index and to see how the page ranks.

Unfortunately, all the major search engines frown on this practice. The goal of this practice is primarily to tweak a site for positioning purposes, not to create content that truly benefits end users. Furthermore, the use of automated position checking software places a considerable load on the search engines’ servers. For these reasons, many search engines have banned the software from their indices.

Too many search engine marketers focus on positioning only— without viewing the web site online marketing process. Top positions are useless if your target audience is not clicking the links to your site and becoming customers. Therefore, when checking the effectiveness of your search engine marketing campaign, do not rely on position checking software. Rather, monitor your site statistics software to see how your target audience is finding and using your site.

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