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Foreword

Foreword

“If you build it, they will come,” is the famous quote from the movie Field of Dreams. However, as all too many webmasters and designers have discovered, just building a web site is no guarantee of receiving visitors.

There are many ways that people may come to a web site, but one of the leading methods is through search engines. Survey after survey attests to the popularity of these tools with web surfers. How you build your web site can have a major impact on whether those users will find you through search engines.

Build it right, and you can easily tap into “natural” traffic and gain quality visitors for free, saving your money to spend on ads to target areas you don’t naturally do well in. Build it wrong, and you’ll find yourself in the morass of constantly trying to win the search engine game with strikes against you from the outset. You then should expect to spend significant time and money to raise your profile.

Building a site right doesn’t need to be be hard. “Search engine friendly” design, which I’ve been preaching about through SearchEngineWatch.com since 1997, isn’t about using a myriad of tricks to fool search engines into favoring your web site. Rather, making a site search engine friendly often means implementing small and easy changes that usually have a big impact in gaining search engine visibility.

Far too often, designers spend time ensuring that their web sites are compatible with the two major web browsers while ignoring what I call the “third browser” search engines. Building a site that’s accessible and friendly to search engines that crawl the web is just as important as thinking about humans who use Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Why? Because many of those humans will “tune in” to your web site by means of crawler-based search engines. If those crawlers have problems reaching you, they can’t direct the human visitors you want to your web site.

Fortunately, building a site for the third browser of crawler-based search engines doesn’t mean ostracizing your human visitors. In fact, thinking about crawlers can often make your site’s usability for humans better than it was before.

Shari Thurow has been a leader in helping guide people toward better search engine design through her writing and speaking. She has consistently been one of the best-rated speakers at the Search Engine Strategies series of conferences produced by SearchEngineWatch.com. Now Shari has put her knowledge into book format, and it is a great companion for anyone involved in constructing web sites.

Search engine–friendly design isn’t just about pleasing crawlers. How sites are listed in human-powered search engines can also be positively—or negatively—impacted by site design. Shari addresses these issues, as well as offering tips on improving the submission process to human-backed search engines.

Build it right with the help of this book, and you should indeed find that they come!

Danny Sullivan
Editor, SearchEngineWatch.com

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