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One of the Web's best-known search engine gurus says, in a discussion group post: "I'm beginning to believe that search engines are a dead-end technology." Reams of irrelevant results and endless backlogs presage the imminent demise of the search engine. May be not so imminent. Actually, the post quoted is from 1997. Three Web centuries later, the search engines still have exactly the same problems, people are still predicting their downfall, and the darn things are still ticking.
Search engines and directories survive, and indeed flourish, because they're all we've got. If you want to use the wealth of information that is the Web, you've got to be able to find what you want, and search engines and directories are the only way to do that. However, most Web users and Web publishers will agree that there are serious problems. Getting good search results is a matter of chance. Depending on what you're searching for, you may get a meaty list of good resources, or you may get page after page of irrelevant drivel. By laboriously refining your search, and using several different search engines and directories (and especially by using appropriate specialty directories), you can usually find what you need in the end. But there sure is a lot of room for improvement.
Author: Charlie Morris
2007-09-12T23:08:02.320-07:00“How do I get to be Number One in the search engines for widgets? After all, my company is the world’s leading provider of widgets - it’s ridiculous that these other nobody companies are coming up in search engines ahead of us . . .” My response is almost always along the lines of: “Forget that right now, and get a life!” OK, so I am a little more tactful than that - and I do occasionally encourage an in-depth search engine optimization strategy, but usually I’ll encourage clients to spend their website promotional budget in other ways. Here are the main reasons why I’m not generally enthusiastic about free search engines: 1. You have to be really careful in choosing keywords Many people make the mistake of focusing on very generic keywords. Not only are these even more difficult to get top placement in, but they also won’t generate you targeted traffic. A prospect approached me recently for help with a coaching site. This site promotes tale-seminars to help clients implement life changes described in various motivational books. This prospect initially said that he wanted to be “Number One” on a search for “books”. I’d suggest this would be a virtually impossible challenge for any search engine optimizer. But in addition, someone searching for “books” is probably really looking for Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, and not my client’s tale classes. He could spend a lot of money for very few qualified leads. 2. You need to speak the language of your visitors We all talk “geek speak” - it’s often second nature to us within our industry or area of expertise. And it’s easy to forget that our prospects don’t always use the same terminology. One of the most difficult areas in copywriting that I see is when technology sales people are trying to describe their products to a non-technical market - the result is usually incomprehensible! But there’s also the jargon that we use as a matter of pride, or because we’ve lost touch with how our markets think of us. I worked recently with an association of plastic surgeons. They had their member database on their Web site, and wanted to attract visitors there to find a local practitioner. Their “Number One” target keyword for the search engines was “rhinoplasty”. Well, I can only spell this because I just looked it up for this article - but usually you and I in the general public would never think of that - of course; we’d be searching for . . . “nose jobs”! The surgeons didn’t like this at all from an academic standpoint. But they had to concede the point when I presented evidence on most common searches from Yahoo! Search Marketing's very handy Search Engine Submission Tool. 3. It’s very passive marketing . . . My most pressing argument for not spending too much time on free search engines is that it’s a very passive form of marketing. You’re relying on a prospective visitor waking up in the morning, and realizing that they need something that you might provide. Then, you’re relying on them choosing the precise keywords that you’ve targeted for search engine optimization. It’s a fairly hit or miss business. When do I disagree with myself? There are some exceptions to all this. I do believe that search engines are well worth it when you have a niche product or service with extremely unambiguous and well-defined keywords. For example, an audience member in one of my recent programs was working on a Web site to sell some incredibly advanced yoyos. I did recommend a search engine strategy to him - after all, if someone puts in “yoyo” as a search term, they’d almost certainly be a qualified lead! So, are search engines worth it any more? I’m not advocating ignoring search engines. And I do like the better paid models, such as Yahoo! Search Marketing. But I do suggest that you should be very clear about how much passive marketing you want to undertake, and whether the product or service that you’re offering lends itse[...]
2007-09-10T23:58:21.610-07:00There are many aspects in regards to search engine optimisation. There are on-page procedures such as optimising meta tags, titles, page copy, urls, alt tags and the like. We also know that another important aspect is off-page seo whereby a lot of time and effort is put in in order to obtain quality inbound links to your site. This normally takes the shape of directory submission, article writing and submission, competition analysis, social media marketing and blogging to name a few. These are all crucial elements of search engine optimisation and are a major part of any seo specialists daily chors. One element of SEO that can be easily overlooked is the building of a web site that is not only "user friendly" but also "search friendly". By "search friendly" we mean that the search engines can crawl and spider your site unimpeded which will enable it to extract all of your content and in turn index it within the search engines database. After all, what use is getting thousands of inbound one way links to your site, if your site is not user or search friendly? There are a number of things worth considering when building a user and search engine friendly web site. They are:- 1. Use as much text as possible in the form of HTML - Search engines love plain text. They are not able to read images, video files, audio files or flash, so try to not use too much of these in your site design. Another thing to consider is that some sites make users log in in order to view certain content or use a form to find content. Both of these are bad. Spiders/crawlers do not know how to log in to your site or fill out a form in order to find your content. So if you want your content to be indexed by the search engines, stay away from this. If you MUST do this, try to produce a snippet of the content to entice users to log in. That way the spider at least has something to chew on. 2. Make your urls understandable - This means creating urls such as www.mysite.com/how-to-bring-up-your-children.html and NOT www.mysite.com/children/article-09876R-YTUR-4tr.html As you can see the first url is not only "user friendly" but is also "search engine friendly" meaning that the search engines read more meaning and relevance into this url than the second one. Dont forget also that if you were to copy the second url into an email, your signature or post on a blog etc it wouldnt be totally clear where the link was going. This cannot be said for the first url. 3. Structure your site well - This means making your site as flat as possible. Instead of structuring your site in way that means a user has to click 10 times before reaching their target make the content a maximum of 4 clicks away or less. 4. Design your site for users NOT search engines - As much as possible treat the search engines as if they were human beings manually scouring your site for content to index. If it is easy for humans to find what they are looking for on your site, logic says that the spiders will also find what they are looking for and index it. The more "speadbumps" you put in the way of spiders, the slower your site will be crawled and indexed(if at all). 5. Content is king - One of my favorite expressions which is so true. Great content has many benefits, after all, its what we are all after, even the search engines. The search engines job is to find "relevant" search data. When the search engine starts dishing out "irrelevant" results, thats the time when it is going to become out of favour with web users who will move onto another engine. Having great site content has many benefits such as if your content is good and original, people will want to link to it and your site, so its a good way of building natural links which is something that google likes. If you write good genuine creative content on your topic you will start to become an authority in your chosen field meaning more links and brand/site awareness. The more content you have the more opportunity you will have of inserting your keywords maki[...]