Search Engine Introduction
The World Wide Web or the Internet is a vast collection of web pages. From Michael's Widgets to 'How-To', the Internet has a place for all this information. The problem that is faced is, "How do I access this information?", "How do I make this information relevant to me?", and "How do I know what I just read is fact?" all becomes important.
This is where search engines play a role. Search engines categorize and funnel your search and try to display relevant web pages that contain the information you seek. In order for this information to be available to you, those web pages were submitted, ranked and placed in various categories. At this time, it is important to distinguish between search engine submission and search engine optimization.
Search engine submission is where YOU the webmaster submit your website information to the search engine. The search engine may or may not accept your website. The reason is that some of your website content may not meet their requirements or may violate their policies. Search engine optimisation is when you alter your website in order to improve the chances of the search engines' 'bots' or 'spiders' accessibility to 'crawl' your website and look through the content of your website for relevant information.
What is a search engine?
You've heard of the names, Yahoo, Google, and Bing. These are examples of some of the most common search engines. Think of a search engine as your index or table of contents - just like what's in a book. The search engine places your search criteria and lists them in order of relevance and the phrasing of your search.
For example, if you place a search for CANCER, the search engine will pull all instances of the word cancer from as many web pages as it has indexed (or kept in a database). This index is very important for the search engine and for you. Why is this important to you? When you place your web page in the arena to be indexed (added to the database) you are allowing others to 'see' you website.
Being added to the large index, table of contents or catalog of other websites takes time. It takes even more time if your website isn't 'optimised' or taking advantage of the way the search engines look at your website.
In other words, if you don't work on your site, no one will know or care that you're on the Internet and offer your services.
How does a search engine affect my business?
If you have an on-line presence, a search engine makes things easier for people trying to find your particular service. If your service (website) is hard to find for people or 'not-listed' then the quantity of clients will be limited. Without clients, no business. Think of your website just like a physical store. You wouldn't just build a store and hope people will buy what you're selling, would you? You would advertise, print some flyers, take out an ad in the dailies, plan some special events, sponsor a social or advertise in the phone directories.
The same thing applies for the Internet. Your website needs to be categorized and helped in order to attract as many potential and buying clients as your site can handle. This is where planning your website helps.
Keep your content up-to-date
As the webmaster, you need to look after your website and update the content on a regular basis. This is useful in several ways. Your clients will be surprised that you've taken the time to actually design a website with them in mind. You've made it easier for your client to navigate your website and actually get information. As a result, your sales have never been better. In fact, your sales have improved steadily in the 8 months that you've had a website simply because you took control and maintained the content.
When I do all these things, will it work?
The answer is yes. However, it will take dedication and persistence on your part. If you have a physical business, you know the hours, blood, sweat and tears that you experienced in order to grow your business to the level it has achieved. You are ready to take this to an on-line presence and sell your services to a larger audience. For those who don't have a physical business and the website is your first business, the same applies. Many hours of experimenting and seeing how your service fits the on-line marketplace requires patience, understanding and willingness to learn about the technology and how you will benefit.
The Bottom Line
As an on-line service, it is imperative that you make yourself available to as many search engines as you can. The next article will describe what search engine optimisation is and how its relevance affects your website and your business.
- Search engines categorise and funnel your search.
- Think of a search engine as your index or table of contents - just like what's in a book.
- A search engine makes things easier for people trying to find your particular service.
- Some common search engines are: Yahoo!, Google, Bing, Ask, AltaVista, Excite or WebCrawler.
- Planning your website and keeping the content up-to-date is crucial.
- Your online business will take dedication and persistence on your part.