by Bob Nunn
Whether youre a small business doing your own web site or a mega corporation with a big online budget, one thing that you must do is get your site address into the hands of the public. While that was a bit easier a few years ago before there were a zillion web sites, it always has been a bit of a challenge. Some people just pay a service and hope for the best, or think because they paid 1/2 a million for their web site that all that will be taken care of. Others simply submit their site to Yahoo and a couple of other search engines.
If you havent budgeted time and money for keeping your site links updated to the search engines (Lycos, Hotbot, Excite and the like) and other low cost or free ways to keep your site easy to find, then you are missing it. You should periodically update your listings with all the major search engines and be on the lookout for new search engines.
What is really important is that you get the proper search words and descriptions in your pages. These are called "meta" tags and should be present in the header of each page on your web site. View the source on your pages and look to see if you have something similar to this:
<TITLE>Memphis Tennessee's Best Web Sites - www.PortalMemphis.com</TITLE>
<META HTTP-EQUIV="content-type" CONTENT="text/html;charset=iso-8859-1"><META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="memphis, tennessee, elvis, shelby, beale, blues, bluff, city, bbq, music, peabody, link, portal, web, site, real estate, tourist, tourism, business, sport, baseball, travel, northwest, airline, job, employment, book, sightseeing, gambling, relocate, vacation, organization, literature, health, religion, neighbor, gambling, healthcare, casino, hotel, broadcaster, radio, tv, school, college, university, money, entertainment, top, best, internet"><META NAME="description" CONTENT="Memphis Tennessee - PortalMemphis's collection of the best web sites representing Memphis Tennessee. Includes City Info, Neighbors, Real Estate, Gambling, Sports, Current Events, Entertainment, Music, Restaurants, Religion, Healthcare, Hotels, Money, Broadcasters, Business, Employment, Organizations Literary, Education, Schools."><META NAME="revisit-after" CONTENT="15 days">
When you list with the search engines most of them send a "robot" or "spider" out to search through your meta tags and properly index your site. There are free services out there that will help you prepare this information for your site. One that I like is put together by Web Promote and you can go there by entering the URL in your browser: http://www.webpromote.com/tools/metatag.asp
Tools like this do a fair job of putting together your meta tags, but if you want to do it one better, go to your favorite search engines (other than Yahoo, who doesnt index by tags) and enter how you think people will search for your site. Take the top 5 listings from the results and review their source and their tags. Take the best words that work for your site and use them to make up your keywords. Make sure your description and page header include as many keywords as possible.
There are limits and you need to follow the guidelines of the search engines you are submitting to. A good rule of thumb however is to limit your meta tag description to 20-25 words or about 150-200 characters of text.
You should limit your keyword description to relevant terms and phrases, being careful not to repeat the same words. I also include common misspellings in my keywords.
Once you have your meta tags included in your web pages and your page titles changed to reflect the content of the page (using as many keywords as possible) then you are ready to submit your web site to the search engines. I built a page of links that I use to submit my sites at: http://headgap.com/addurl/
This page lists the top engines and takes you right to the proper place to begin submitting your site. If appropriate, make sure you explore "niche" search engines and add your sites to them as well. These niche engines may be a better resource for directing traffic to your site if your site fits this profile. Never discount the little guy. They may be getting the traffic profile you want directed to your site and may be more effective.
There are many other ways to increase traffic to your site. Perhaps in the near future we can explore other methods but this should get you off to a good start.
Bob Nunn is owner, Operator Headgap Systems, http://headgap.com
Board Member, AppleCore of Memphis, Inc., http://headgap.com/applecore.spml