How Do Search Engines Work - Web Crawlers
It is the search engines that finally bring your website to the notice of the prospective customers. Hence it is better to know how these search engines actually work and how they present information to the customer initiating a search. There are basically two types of search engines. The first is by robots called crawlers or spiders.
Search Engines use spiders to index websites. When you submit your website pages to a search engine by completing their required submission page, the search engine spider will index your entire site. A ‘spider’ is an automated program that is run by the search engine system. Spider visits a web site, read the content on the actual site, the site's Meta tags and also follow the links that the site connects. The spider then returns all that information back to a central depository, where the data is indexed. It will visit each link you have on your website and index those sites as well. Some spiders will only index a certain number of pages on your site, so don’t create a site with 500 pages!
The spider will periodically return to the sites to check for any information that has changed. The frequency with which this happens is determined by the moderators of the search engine.A spider is almost like a book where it contains the table of contents, the actual content and the links and references for all the websites it finds during its search, and it may index up to a million pages a day.
Example: Excite, Lycos, AltaVista and Google.
When you ask a search engine to locate information, it is actually searching through the index which it has created and not actually searching the Web. Different search engines produce different rankings because not every search engine uses the same algorithm to search through the indices. One of the things that a search engine algorithm scans for is the frequency and location of keywords on a web page, but it can also detect artificial keyword stuffing or spamdexing. Then the algorithms analyze the way that pages link to other pages in the Web. By checking how pages link to each other, an engine can both determine what a page is about, if the keywords of the linked pages are similar to the keywords on the original page.
Keyword density is an indicator of the number of times the selected keyword appears in the web page. But mind you, keywords shouldn’t be over used, but should be just sufficient enough to appear at important places. If you repeat your keywords with every other word on every line, then your site will probably be rejected as an artificial site or spam site.
Keyword density is always expressed as a percentage of the total word content on a given web page. Suppose you have 100 words on your webpage (not including HMTL code used for writing the web page), and you use a certain keyword for five times in the content. The keyword density on that page is got by simply dividing the total number of keywords, by the total number of words that appear on your web page. So here it is 5 divided by 100 = .05. Because keyword density is a percentage of the total word count on the page, multiply the above by 100, that is 0.05 x 100 = 5%. The accepted standard for a keyword density is between 3% and 5%, to get recognized by the search engines and you should never exceed it.
Remember, that this rule applies to every page on your site. It also applies to not just to one keyword but also a set of keywords that relates to a different product or service. The keyword density should always be between 3% and 5%.
Simple steps to check the density:
- Copy and paste the content from an individual web page into a word-processing software program like Word or Word Perfect.
- Go to the ‘Edit’ menu and click ‘Select All’. Now go to the ‘Tools’ menu and select ‘Word Count’. Write down the total number of words in the page.
- Now select the ‘Find’ function on the ‘Edit’ menu. Go to the ‘Replace’ tab and type in the keyword you want to find. ‘Replace’ that word with the same word, so you don’t change the text.
- When you complete the replace function, the system will provide a count of the words you replaced. That gives the number of times you have used the keyword in that page.
- Using the total word count for the page and the total number of keywords you can now calculate the keyword density.
Must Have Features Your Web Site
Just don’t focus on the home page, keywords and titles.
The first step to sales when customers visit your site to see the products they were looking for. Of course, search engine optimization and better rankings can’t keep your customer on your site or make them buy. The customer having visited your site, now ensure that he gets interested in your products or services and stays around. Motivate him to buy the product by providing clear and unambiguous information. Thus if you happen to sell more than one product or service, provide all necessary information about this, may be by keeping the information at a different page. By providing suitable and easily visible links, the customer can navigate to these pages and get the details.
Understanding Your Target Customer
If you design a website you think will attract clients, but you don’t really know who your customers are and what they want to buy, it is unlikely you make much money. Website business is an extension or replacement for a standard storefront. You can send email to your existing clients and ask them to complete a survey or even while they are browsing on your website. Ask them about their choices. Why do they like your products? Do you discount prices or offer coupons? Are your prices consistently lower than others? Is your shipping price cheaper? Do you respond faster to client questions? Are your product descriptions better? Your return policies and guarantees better than your competitor’s? To know your customer you can check credit card records or ask your customer to complete a simple contact form with name, address, age, gender, etc. when they purchase a product.
Does your website give enough contact information?
When you sell from a website, your customer can buy your products 24 hrs a day and also your customers may be from other states that are thousands of miles away. Always provide contact information, preferably on every page of your website, complete with mailing address, telephone number and an email address that reaches you. People may need to contact you about sales, general information or technical problems on your site. Also have your email forwarded to another email address if you do not check your website mailbox often. When customer wants to buy online provide enough options like credit card, PayPal or other online payment service.
Some other Keyword Research Tools
One need to choose those keywords that are frequently searched for and which is in high demand, but not being already used by many other websites and competitors, and thus has low competition. There are a number of keyword research tools that can help you find them. Apart from the Wordtracker which was already discussed in an other article, we have some more equally important research tools like the Overture, Google AdWords Keyword and Guidebeam.
Overture's keyword suggestion tool is free and much quicker to use than Wordtracker. It works more like the Wordtracker but doesn't tell you how many websites are targeting each keyword phrase. For example if you type ‘Computer’, the Overture search suggestion tool will tell you that during the last month the word ‘Computer’ was searched, say for example 459550 times at Overture.Com. Similarly 'computer game' was searched 302210 times. Also, given one word it will tell you all relevant combinations of that word, which are based on actual searches done by people. If the word you keyed in is not a common search term then you will not get any results. It means that very few people have actually searched for that word during the last month.
Even Google Keyword Tool generates potential keywords for your ad campaign and reports their Google statistics, including search performance and seasonal trends. Features of this tool include,
- Sorting the results of your desired keyword search by popularity, past performance history within the AdWords system, cost, and predicted ad position.
- Easy keyword manipulation where you can select a few keywords here and there or add them all at once.
- Searches for keywords present even in any webpage URL specified by your search. It can also expand your keyword search even further to include those pages that are linked to or from the original URL page.
- More keyword results are generated based on regularly updated usage statistics database. This helps you to get new keywords or phrases.
Guidebeam is an interesting resource. Type in a phrase and it will suggest a large number of related searches. The numbers generated against each phrase are Guidebeam's estimation of how relevant that phrase is. These softwares are useful for researching how people search the web and then optimizing your own web pages so that more people find your web site.
Submitting Your Website to Search Engines
If you have a web-based business or if a significant portion of your business is done on the web through your website, then the best advertising and marketing is done by submitting to a search engine. No amount of press release, newspaper or radio ad, banner ad, spam email or newsletter will achieve the same results, although, maybe effective in a small proportion. Beware of companies that promise automatic submission of your website to hundreds of search engines which are but only false promises. The best way to submit your website for search engine ranking and inclusion is to do it yourself or to hire an expert to do it manually, by contacting the search engine companies and directories.
Before you begin to submit your website to search engines ensure your websites are thoroughly designed to the professional quality using the right key words, good graphics and pictures and the relevant content. Don’t submit websites that are incomplete. While submitting to a search engine, make sure to provide information about your website, keywords and any other information that may be pertinent, including the name and contact information of your business.
Mere submission to search engine companies does not guarantee that your site would be immediately listed and the ranking will be high. Because there are thousands of new websites coming up every day and it may take quite sometime before they take up your site for review by human editors. One important factor to remember while submitting site is to include a site map of your website which makes the crawling easy for the web robots. Search engines like ‘http://www.google.com’ hardly considers submissions without sitemaps.
There are many online companies that accept search engine submission services. You can choose to do it yourself with a software package and service like this one:
The Importance of Search Engines
It is the search engines that finally bring your website to the notice of the prospective customers. When a topic is typed for search, nearly instantly, the search engine will sift through the millions of pages it has indexed about and present you with ones that match your topic. The searched matches are also ranked, so that the most relevant ones come first.
Remember that a prospective customer will probably only look at the first 2-3 listings in the search results. So it does matter where your website appears in the search engine ranking. Further, they all use one of the top 6-7 search engines and these search engines attract more visitors to websites than anything else. So finally it all depends on which search engines the customers use and how they rank your site.
It is the Keywords that play an important role than any expensive online or offline advertising of your website. It is found by surveys that a when customers want to find a website for information or to buy a product or service, they find their site in one of the following ways:
- The first option is they find their site through a search engine.
- Secondly they find their site by clicking on a link from another website or page that relates to the topic in which they are interested.
- Occasionally, they find a site by hearing about it from a friend or reading in an article.
Thus it’s obvious the the most popular way to find a site, by search engine, represents more than 90% of online users. In other words, only 10% of the people looking for a website will use methods other than search engines.
All search engines employ a ranking algorithm and one of the main rules in a ranking algorithm is to check the location and frequency of keywords on a web page. Don’t forget that algorithms also give weightage to link population (number of web pages linking to your site). When performed by a qualified, experienced search engine optimization consultant, your site for high search engine rankings really does work, unless you have a lot of money and can afford to pay the expert. With better knowledge of search engines and how they work, you can also do it on your own.