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Search Engine FAQ

Search Engine or Directory?
The Parts of a Search Engine
What are META Tags?

Any one who has ever tried to get their site listed in the past, knows it is a tricky, time consuming, and often confusing process. In fact, in the beginning, it can almost be daunting. We have tried to put together a few suggestions and tips to help you better understand the process. Once you have signed up for SubmitWizard, you will have access to a full library of educational material.

Search Engine or Directory?

To the typical Web user, there may be little difference between search engines and directories. Enter a keyword, click on go, and get the search results. In fact about 85 percent of users find what they're looking for on the Web by using one or more of the hundreds of search engines and directories that are online.

To a Web site owner, however, knowing the difference between search engines and directories and knowing how they function is fundamental to surviving and thriving online.

Search Engines: Search engines create their listings using different software programs. These programs 'crawl' the Web like spiders, visiting the different sites that have been submitted to them. After reviewing and reading each site, these programs index what they have found. People, then search through what the engines have compiled, by typing in words or phrases that they want to find. Search engines constantly have their 'spiders' crawling the Web, reading and indexing sites. Page titles, descriptions, body text, code, and other elements all play a role in how a site is indexed by a search engine.

Directories: Millions of people use directories to search what they are looking for, and never know it. Some of the more popular directories are Yahoo!, Excite, and LookSmart. Where directories differ from search engines, is in how they index and review your site. While search engines send spiders to visit and index your site, directories take the descriptions sent to them (like the description you enter and submit using SubmitWizard), and review these. Some Directories, Like Yahoo! actually have employees who read and index each site using a set of predefined categories. Therefore, it is important that you supply an accurate description that will cover your entire site.

When a search is preformed on a directory, it searches through the descriptions it has indexed, and tries to deliver the most relevant response. Because this is the case, getting listed in a directory can be very different from getting listed in a search engine. They are both looking at different criteria. However, there is one common theme. If you submit a description, or submit keywords, which are not relevant to your actual site, your chances of getting listed and ranked, are very slim. In fact, you may be blacklisted by several search engines and directories, and not be allowed to submit again.

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The Parts of a Search Engine

Like most engines, a search engine is actually comprised of many parts. And each search engine is a little different than the other search engines. Like all companies trying to compete for business, each search engine tries to differentiate itself, through the process it uses to index and search through the information on the web.

On the most basic level however, most search engines are comprised of three main elements:
The Spider
The Index
Search Engine Software

The Spider:
Once a URL is submitted to a search engine, the spider, sometimes called a robot or a crawler is sent out from the search engine to read and review the site. This is not an immediate process, and can take up to four weeks. Once the spider reaches the site, it looks at specific elements. Some search engines ask their spiders to look at Meta tags, others want a review of the actual site content, and others want some combination of the two. However, all the information gathered is stored and taken back to the search engine.

The Index:
When the spider returns to the search engine, it takes all the information it has gathered, and puts it in a central location. Then all this information is sorted and cataloged into the Index. The manner in which each search engine indexes the information varies from search engine to search engine. However, each search engine needs an index to store and group its information for the searches that are performed.

Search Engine Software:
Once all the information has been gathered by the spider, and sorted in the index, it is ready for the public to use. When people visit a search engine, and type in the words and phrases they want to search, the search engine software delivers the results they receive. This software recognizes the words or phrases being searched for, dives into the index, and tries to find relevant words or phrases from the information it has stored. Once it has gathered what it feels are relevant sites, it then ranks the each site and displays them for the user. The order and formulas used to rank each site are different for each search engine. That is why you can search for the same words on several search engines, and come up with different results.

In Short:
The list of sites you receive after a search was generated using this Search engine software. The software searches the index or catalog to find good matches for your request. The information and data that make up this index was delivered by the search engine spider. The spider searched different sites (like yours) on the web, to gather this information and data.

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What are META Tags?

Most automobile engines are comprised of roughly the same parts, pistons, ignition system, valves, exhaust system and so forth. However, there are vast performance differences between a Ferrari engine and a Chevrolet engine.

Like automobile engines, search engines are comprised of the same basic parts: spiders, indexes, and search software, however, each search engine company has configured each part to perform in a manner they think will deliver the best results. There are differences in how these parts are tuned for each individual search engine. That's why the same search on different search engines often produces different results.

Whenever you use a search engine, you're asking the search engine to sort through the millions of Web sites it's indexed, and try to find those sites that are related to the search you're performing. Once the relevant sites are selected, the search engine will then rank these sites in order of relevancy--using a formula that varies for each search engine.

Considering that search engines do all their work in a matter of seconds, and don't have the luxury of asking you to re phrase or clarify your question, they do a respectable job.

As a Web site owner, there's a lot that you can do to improve the chances that a search engine will recommend your site. One of the areas to focus on is Meta tags. Meta tags are invisible pieces of code that your site visitors can't see. They aid search engines in indexing your site because they provide the title of your site, a brief and concise description of your site, and the key words that someone might use to find your site.

Most search engines generally look for information about your site in the Meta tags named:

  • Title
  • Meta Tag Description
  • Meta Tag Keywords
  • ALT tags
Title: The title of your Web site is actually the text located after the <TITLE> tag on your Web page. The title is probably the most important part of your site to evaluate, as it is the most frequently searched component by search engines, and should state exactly what your site is about.

Meta Tag Description: The Meta Tag Description is located in the <META name = "description" content=> after the 'content=' tag. Your Web site description should be a tight 12 to 15-word summary of the content of your site. This description should contain some of the keywords you have already listed. When reading the Description, the main theme of your Web site should be very obvious and clear.

Meta Tag Keywords: The Meta Tag Keywords are located in the <META name = "keywords" content = > tag. The Meta Tag Keywords should be those words that you think people will use when trying to look for a site like yours.

With millions of sites already on the web, and with more coming online every day, it's important to recognize that almost any Web site will have competition when trying to get ranked. This is especially true if you are trying to use generic or catch all keywords like 'business' or 'dogs'. Although many people may search for these words, you will be competing with millions of other sites. Therefore, the more specific you get, the better your chances are for achieving a high ranking. For example, instead of the keyword 'dog' if you were to use 'toy poodle history', your chances of being found would be much better. While it is true that not as many people will search for this term, it is much better to be ranked number Five on ten searches, then to be ranked number 15,670 on six thousand searches.

It's important to remember that if you list a keyword too many times it is seen as spamming, and may cause you to be completely rejected by the search engines. There's a fine line between repeating keywords often enough to get a high ranking and repeating keywords too many times and getting rejected by the search engines.

ALT Tags: A search engine can't see or read what an image says or looks like. If you use lots of images on your page, search engines trying to read and index your page will not be able to take them into consideration. Even if the image is of a word or a sentence (such as ' the worlds best widgets!"). This is where ALT tags can be very useful. ALT tags describe what the image says or shows.

Some search engines will index the keywords in the ALT tags. Make sure and add keywords to your ALT tags, but don't overdue it.

Although Meta tags are very important, and can greatly improve your ranking in numerous engines; they're not a guarantee for success. In order to achieve a high rank, an over all strategy is required. This involves effective Meta tags (keywords, titles, and description), search engine submission and re submission, and careful consideration to the content and layout of each web page.

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