Getting Picked Up By Search Engines
If you just created your site, it can take months before your site starts to appear in search engines, and many months more before you start ranking high.
Search engines have literally billions of pages on the web to sort through, and there are thousands of new sites coming online every day. Waiting for a search engine to find your site can be a slow process, especially if there are not a lot of other websites linking to your new site. (This is the way search engines find your site — by other sites linking to your site.)
You can speed the process up a little by submitting your site to the search engines (click here to submit to Google), but don't expect fast results. No matter what you do, it's probably going to be several weeks — even months — before your site shows up.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves a lot of trial and error, and the search engine algorithms are constantly changing. If you read an article on SEO that is even a year or two old, it might not even be valid anymore, so you have to take everything you read with a grain of salt. That includes this too :-) A really good resource is webmasterworld.com. They have entire threads of pro webmasters hanging around giving tips on what they find works and what doesn't.
First figure out what you want people to type into a search engine to eventually find your site. If you're a musician, then "Music" is way too general. "Folk Music" is better, but still too general... "Female fronted folk music from New York" is good.
Here are some of the big thing you can do to make a difference in your ranking:
- Content: Content is king. You will see that over and over. The text that is found in the body of your site has perhaps the strongest influence on which search terms you rank highly for.
- Meta titles: These appear at the very very top of your browser window. These are very important and you should have your name along with a short description (key phrase) of your page up there. You can change these in your admin area Here's how:
- Log into CMS.
- Click [Main Preferences] at the top of the module list page.
- Under "Search Engine Optimization" fill in the fields.
- Click [Set Preferences].
- Inbound links: Having other sites link to your site is one of the biggest influences on rankings, but only if they are popular, legitimate sites. Paying for or participating in "link exchange" programs are a waste of time and money, and will do nothing for your rankings. However, getting a bunch of your friends to link to you from their sites, or getting online articles published with a live links to your site can make a big difference in your rankings.
- Meta description and keywords: These can have a minor effect on your rankings, but not enough to warrant spending a lot of time on them. Come up with a good description of your site and a handful of keywords, and move on to other things. Meta descriptions and keywords can be added to your site in the same section as the Meta titles (see above).
- Get listed on relevant directories: Search for the key phrase you want to be found for. If any directories come up see that you can do to get listed on them. Often this is the biggest help in driving relevant traffic to your site. After all, it's quality traffic that's important - not quantity.
- Be visible: Be sure search engines can index your content once they find your site. If you have a flash intro be sure to include the "skip intro" link.
- Time: If you haven't had your site up long and you've done all the above, be patient. You can "submit" your site to Google and the other major search engines, but as long as at least one site is linking back to your new site it will be found and indexed... eventually.
And now for one very important word of advice: Be honest. Do not try to "trick" the search engines by putting fake keywords, titles, descriptions, or text on your site. Do not hire an "SEO consultant" who claims they can get you to the top of Google. Do not participate in "link exchange" programs. If you are considering a particular action that makes you pause and ask "would this be considered as trying to trick the search engines", then you probably shouldn't do it. In the best case scenario these "tricks" will simply be ignored by the search engines. Often, however, you will actually penalized and reduced in ranking. There are many horror stories about people trying to trick search engines into giving them higher rankings, and consequently seeing their sites disappear entirely. Don't let it happen to you :-)
If you want to submit your site to search engines, the only ones that are really worth the effort are Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Here are links to their submission pages.