Web promotion: search engine notes

The Major Search Engines (note this is outdated, I will update sometime)

Google The biggest (database), and the best (currently) Its ranking algorythum emphasis is on what they call "page rank" the downloadable google toolbar will show page rank for pages visited. Page rank is computed by looking at the sites linking to you, and decreases per page travelled. That is to say, if a page with a pagerank of 5 links to your page, it will get a 4.(simplified version, actual is more complicated) Much speculation amoung webmasters on the partculars. Outgoing links also important. Ignores meta tags for ranking. Ignores description, takes either text surrounding search term or top of page text for description. Will find a site without submission if you are listed in Yahoo ODP, or well ranked page. Supplies results to Yahoo web pages, etc. Particularly popular among tech saavy surfers (although wisenut may steal some of that ) New (May 02) Google adwords are now shown on AOL, and the full Search database will be available on AOL sometime this summer. (Beta testing now)
Fast (alltheweb) Second biggest database. Prefers smaller pages. New 'fast" listing of news, other improvements like related links folders coming out. Large exposure in non US markets as well. New "related topics folders, other technology improvements recently added.
Wisenut New and Promising. 3rd largest database, as yet not partnered with other portals Recently purchased by Looksmart.
Altavista Once the king, was declining but showing signs of life. Has been slow to update its database, other than paid listings
Inktomi Search results only available through Portals, Can pay for frequent spidering through Positiontech.
Smaller engines Excite has recently (May 02) moved to a meta-index type search, pulling results from other engines, Lycos, Hotbot, Webcrawler - Teoma, a new advanced search engine recently bought by Ask Jeeves to try and improve their relevance and reach.
Specialty engines: Ask Jeeves has added Teoma. There are a lot of smaller or specialized search engines


Yahoo Still number one, particularly for new users. Human reviewed directory - should be considered mandatory listing if you want search traffic - $299 submission (Dec28, 01 - now an annual fee, rather than one time)
Yahoo has just added (Nov 15,01) Overture Paid listings to their search results - to the dismay of many (as they come up on the top and bottom of the page, diluting the exposure of those previously listed) the delight of Overture advertisers. (who can now reach Yahoo users by paying per click) They also are cutting jobs, reorganizing business divisions, all part of the general trend of focusing on producing income. Still. they are a favorite of many users, and a good value for web promotion, via either or both routes.
ODP The Open Directory Project. A non-profit human volunteer reviewed directory. Results used by many of the search engines. free submission, check guidelines. Can be very slow or difficult to get commercial sites listed, or sites in catagories without editors. But a very worthwhile project deserving support.
Looksmart / Zeal Looksmart supplies data to MSN,. [Update: Looksmart seems to be changing to a ppc model, I would investigate carefully before using their site submit.]Provides results to Altavista, Excite, iWon, MSN. Zeal.com is "non-profit" way to add non commercial sites to Looksmart
Netscape Netscape search now using Google results

MetaSearch Engines:

Dogpile like the name says.. just kidding.
iWon surf and win. don't see many results from them. Uses Inktomi and Looksmart
Vivisimo They call it a document clustering system, new, worth a look


Yahoo The big one, see above.
MSN - MSN search Uses its own engine, Looksmart , secondary results from Inktomi and ODP. GoTo featured links- ppc. Large and growing user base, [Update: Looksmart seems to be moving to a PPC model, so who will provide database results for MSN is an interesting question.
Netscape Declining. Search uses a combination of AOL, GoTo sponsored links, ODP, and Google web page results
AOL - AOL search Popular, generally provides good traffic. Uses Inktomi, plus ODP, [Update: changes in search database sources may be in the works - see Google]

Pay-Per-Click, and related

GoTo / Overture The premier pay per click provider, chances are if a search results page says "partner listing". "sponsored links" or such, they are from Oveture. Recently added Yahoo to their stable of partners, lost AOL, Earthlink as a partners
Google Adwords Pay per impression - that is, they sell exposure to an audience by targeted search term. Now appear on AOL, Earthlink also.

Basic site promotion: care and feeding of robots.

Search engine robots (or spiders) visit (if you have encouraged them) on a regular basis. Google, for example, visits at least monthly, and updates its directory monthly. When they stop by, the first thing they look for is a robots.txt file, which is a small text file that tells them what files to index, what not to. Then it checks pages, following links and , notices whether they are updated, and collects the html files. Back at the ranch, the full text of the files is processed for the database. So keeping links working is job number 1. Promoting a web site effectively means managing the text content, and links, so that they are processed by the search engine in a way that the content is associated by the search engine with terms that are employed to search for it.

A lot of energy is expended to market shortcuts - "try this trick and you will be ranked in the top ten" - If they work, they seldom do for long. The search engines are interested in returning relevent results, and each one is constantly adjusting its algorythms and filters to weed out the unscrupulous. Feed them good content, arranged and presented so it makes sense to them (they are not human, after all), and generally one will do well.

That said, there is a considerable body of information, speculation, hints and tips about how to present content to search engines, and the 'goal posts' are constantly being moved. Web site promotion is often a job equal to creating and maintaining a web site - after all, its not a lot of use if folks don't visit.


Look at >>> logging and tracking your visitors, or Search engines and website promotion (overview) or Oregon web site promotion.

Oregon web site design and promotion guide

July 24, 2002

ML WEBB, web site design and promotion, Eugene, Oregon
Willamette Valley near Eugene, Oregon

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