When your URL comes to the attention of one of these engines they will come and visit you. Yahoo sends live paid people. Open Directory uses volunteers. Others use web crawlers or spiders to crawl around your web site and this is important because spiders are the other way you get registered – automatically and without having to ask for it. It is perfectly possible to get a listing merely because your URL is on a site visited by a spider. This, by the way, is one of the reasons you want links to you on other sites. Regardless of how they visit you, all engines are all seeking to classify you. Whether you like being labeled or not, they must label you in a meaningful fashion.
The volunteers, spiders, flunkies, and even paid submitters do this with descriptions and key words contained on your site. And they find these key words and descriptions in two places – meta tags and text on the web pages themselves. So you need to have both.
Meta tags (meta is Greek for denoting position – which is probably fair because this sounds like Greek to most people) are computer codes buried in the HTML text of a web page. They aren’t visible on a web page but can often be seen by viewing the source code of a web page. To see source code, click on a web page – not the graphic stuff but some text or a blank area – with the right hand mouse button and select View Source.
Importantly, you can visit your competition and see how THEY promote themselves by seeing THEIR meta tags. You should do this with your competitor’s web sites. You can learn a lot about what works by looking at what has worked. The two above tags and the title are where engines get their key words and descriptions.
The keen observer might say that there is a lot of redundancy in these tags and title. The words marketing, public relations, and mail blasters are repeated over and over. Is the author simple? Was his last job with the Department of Redundancy Department? He may very well be and it probably was. But the search engine spiders and flunkies are even simpler. They only know what is important if you tell them – repeatedly. And then tell them again. Redundancy is a very good thing at this point. So work some redundancy into your tags and title.
Not all spiders and flunkies read the meta tags and HTML code. Some read the text on your web pages. What is important is they use rules about what is significant and what to read. First, they read the title at the top of the page and figure that is what you are. Imagine for example’s sake you are a veterinarian and you own Dr. Bob’s Clinic. Doctor and Clinic are words that will register – but they won’t help you very much. People who look for veterinarians on a search engine will probably do a search for ‘vet’, ‘veterinarian’, ‘veterinarian’ + ‘city’, etc. Therefore, to get placed to answer these searches, Dr. Bob should change the title on his web site to ‘Veterinary Clinic of Palm Beach. So spend a lot of time on the title.
Spiders also look at the text at the top of the page to see what you do. And like you and I, they tend to lose interest after the first paragraph. So spend a lot of time on that first bit of text. And repeat yourself. And then repeat yourself again. And keep hammering those key words into the text. Again, if you were Doctor Bob, you would want your first paragraph to include key words in the following way: ‘Dr. Bob Clump, Palm Beach Veterinarian, specialist in pet medicine.’ This one sentence answers 3 searches (i.e., search for “Dr. Bob Clump”, “palm beach vet”, and “pet medicine”.)
When you think you have it right put on your Homer Simpson hat. Dumb yourself down to the level of an under-paid flunky on the night shift and see if you still get the gist of what your web site is all about. Then simplify it with even more powerful and direct words.
By the way, when I say spiders read text I mean exactly that. They don’t read graphics. If your keywords are really graphics or icons the spider can’t understand them. So if your web designer is afflicted with art-directoritis (an incurable condition in which the afflicted party strives for ‘beauty’ at the expense of pleasing the spider) dump her. Fast. And get some text on the front page.
It is possible to get well listed without doing all this work and it happens all the time. But it is dumb luck, or a paid listing, or the site as been around so long that it has crept to the top of by some sort of sympathy algorithm. Do the work. You’ll be happier in the end.
That is the really important stuff. Get your key words and description properly worked into your site and you have given yourself the best opportunity to get properly listed on the best search engines.