Pandia Search Engine Marketing 101

A beginner's guide to search engine optimization and promotion

Search engine marketing is the art of using search engines as a vehicle for getting more visitors to your website.

If you get higher rankings in search results, more searchers are likely to click on your listing, leading to a steady stream of interested readers or -- hopefully -- happy customers.

Pandia's Search Engine Marketing 101 will give you the basics of search engine promotion -- knowledge you may use in your own optimization efforts or when buying services from others.

How search engines work

Search engines are based on computer programs that explore the Net in search of webpages. They do this by using so-called "spiders," "crawlers," or "robots".

Like any human surfer, the robots are able to follow the links present on webpages. When finding a new webpage, they copy all or parts of the text present on the page into their search engine database.

Other spiders revisit these pages on a regular interval in order to register changes or dead links. The interval varies greatly from search engine to search engine and from site to site.

Ranking algorithm

The search engine will have billions of webpages in its database. In order to deliver relevant results, the search engine companies have developed special ranking algorithms that calculate the order of search query results.

By a search query we mean the keyword or keyword phrase the visitor enters into the search form of the search engine.

A special program analyzes the search query, and then searches the database for pages that contain this keyword or keyword phrase.

Next it analyzes every single one of the relevant pages in order to determine how important that phrase is on that page. The pages the search engine find most relevant will be listed first.

For instance, if you are searching for "Albert Einstein," and the search engine finds a main headline on that page containing the phrase "Albert Einstein," it will guess that this page is fairly relevant to your needs. If, on the other hand, it finds the phrase only once, buried in a long text, it will reckon it is less relevant.

Getting search engine points

The search engine gives each and every page points based on how often and where it finds the keyword phrase (the keyword location). Some locations give more points than others, the exact factor varying from search engine to search engine.

Search engines also take other factors into consideration, including link popularity. We will come back to that.

One very important part of search engine marketing is to know where to put the relevant keyword phrases in your webpages.

Designing webpages for search engines

The search engine does not "see" the webpage the way we see it; it reads only the text-based code behind it. This is will help you to have an elementary insight into HTML, the coding language used to produce webpages. If you do not know any HTML, you could for instance read through one of the beginner's guides to HTML.

If you do not have the patience for this, by all means read on -- we will help you understand. Keep in mind, though, that an HTML file is a plain text file that contains the text you can read on a web page, as well as information on how the web browser is to format it. We are going to look at the elements of this text file.

On search directories

This guide is about search engines only. There are also so-called "search directories" produced by human beings that visit and consider websites for inclusion. The most important ones are the Yahoo! Directory and The Open Directory. In order to get listed in these, you have to use entirely different techniques.

Select specific keyword phrases

The most important part of search engine optimization is selecting the right keyword phrases or "keyphrases".

It is true that many searchers enter one-word queries into the search form. The chance of competing successfully for one-word search queries is fairly remote, however, unless you are trying to promote a very specific and rare scholarly term.

You will need a million-dollar budget to win the fight over general terms such as "car" or "holiday," and what is the point, anyway?

Let us suppose you are promoting a hotel in St. Anton, Austria. What are the chances that someone searching for "holiday" is looking for a hotel room in St. Anton? They are more likely looking for general information on holidays and traveling.

If you search for the generic keyword "holiday" in Google you get millions of hits. A search for "alpine ski resorts" gives a few hundred listings. If you optimize your pages for "alpine ski resorts" the chances for getting a good listing increases dramatically. Moreover, you are more likely to get visitors that are genuinely interested in your hotel.

It is not the number of visitors ("the click-through rate") that matter most, but the number of buying or returning visitors ("the conversion rate").

Setting up a list of keyword phrases

Set up a list of relevant keyword phrases. Ask friends and colleagues what query they would enter when looking for a service or product like yours. Do not trust your own instincts in this!

Then try to find relevant synonyms by using a thesaurus, and take variations of English into consideration ("baggage" or "luggage," "optimization" or "optimisation").

Finally, go to one of the online keyword services and see how popular the various search phrases are. The keyword services will also help you finding other relevant phrases.

We highly recommend the online Wordtracker service (or other keyword suggestion tools) for this kind of work.

Why you should settle for only one keyword phrase? You should not! However, you must find one keyword phrase that is to be the crucial one. Optimize your home page for that keyword phrase, as many search engines give more weight to the home page in the top directory (e.g. than other pages.

You may try to optimize the same page for more than one keyword phrase, but under no circumstance should you go for more than three. If you do so, you will dilute the effect of the individual keyword phrases.

Stop words

Please note that some search engines ignore so-called "stop words," which are words that are so common that they are left out of the search engine database.

Among these are a, an, and, for, is, on, or, the, and to, as well as commonly used words as "Web", "html" and "title." You can determine if a word is a stop word by searching for it. If you get "no results" it's probably a stop word.

However, that does not necessarily mean that all search engines will fail finding a keyword phrase containing such words. Do some testing! If a certain stop word is absolutely essential, try placing the phrase within quotation marks: "keyword phrase".

Metatags and other elements

The <title> tag

The <title> tag is the text shown in the windows-bar of the browser window, is the most important element of the webpage. You must include your most important keyword phrase(s) in this spot.

However, make sure that you write a phrase that makes sense. Many search engines may use this line in their result listings, and you want people to click on that link.

Do not put the name of the site first, unless the name contains the essential keyword phrase.

Instead of

<title>Alfred's Reading

go for

<title>Used books, magazines,
periodicals, posters and postcards from Alfred's
Reading Emporium in Boulder, Colorado</title>

Some SEO-experts would even argue that you should drop "Alfred" altogether. The only drawback with this is that the browsers use this text when generating bookmarks/favorites. Then there is the non-SEO branding effect to consider.

Please note the inclusion of the geographical location. If your business or activity is limited to one district, say so. Searchers are prone to include geographic names in their queries.

Some suggest that it helps to use multiple <title> tags. Maybe it does in some search engines. Still, it tastes of spam (cheating), and the risk of getting banned by the search engine does not make it worthwhile.

The <meta> tags

Meta tags are text written into the HTML code that describes your webpage to the search engines, but which is not visible in a browser window. They are placed after the </title> tag, but before the <body> tag.

There are only three meta tags of importance for search engine optimization. All others can (and should) be left out. Here are examples of the three:

CONTENT="old and used books paperbacks
periodicals magazines newspapers papers
postcards post card poster old prints">

CONTENT=" Alfred's Reading Emporium
in Boulder, Colorado offers you a large
collection of used books, paperbacks,
magazines, periodicals, newspapers,
prints, posters and postcards.">


The NAME part of the tag, tells the search engine what kind of meta tag this is.

The keywords metatag

In the KEYWORDS meta tag you may enter keywords and key phrases of relevance to the content of the page. Please note the double quotation marks. Many choose to separate the keyword phrases with commas.

We normally do not include commas, partly because they take up space, and partly because leaving them out makes it possible to include more combinations of keywords. "web search tutorial" will give you no less than three queries: "web search tutorial," "web search," and "search tutorial" in addition to the three individual words.

Do not repeat the same keyword more than two or three times. However, if you must repeat it, keep the occurrences apart.

Do not enter keyword phrases that are of no relevance to the content of the page.

Some SEO experts argue that you should not include any keyword phrases that are not present in the visible text on the webpage, as some search engines may interpret this as spam.

We have not found proof of this (unless you enter phrases of an "adult" nature to your page on home knitting).You may also enter misspellings, and variations of the same word (capitalized/non-capitalized, plural/singular). However, do not go overboard on this.

You should note, however, that as far as we know, none of the major search engines care about this meta tag at the moment. It has been spammed to death by webmasters. If you do include it, it must therefore be in preparation for that unlikely day that they start using it again.

Note also that other webmasters may read your keywords metatag in order to gain insight into your SEO strategies. That's another reason for not including a list of all your carefully researched keywords.

The description metatag

The DESCRIPTION meta tag is important as some search engines may use this text for the description given in the search result listings.

This text should be a normal sentence that gives the searcher exact information on what you have to offer. Do include the main keyword phrase(s). Note that no search engine displays more than 250 characters (spaces, commas and periods included), and often less. This is why you should enter the most important part of your description first.

The robots tag

The listed version of the ROBOTS- tag (ALL) tells the search engine to index the page. However, the CONTENT="ALL" alternative is actually superfluous. Search engines will also index pages without this tag.


indicates that a robot should neither index a document, nor analyze it for links.


means that a robot should not index this document, but that it should index the pages it is pointing to.

Note though, that if you need to limit the search engines access to your site, it is better to put a robots.txt file in the root directory of your site (provided that you have your own domain). Read our article on the robots.txt file and search engine optimization.

<body> text

We encourage you to include at least four or five paragraphs of informative text on every page (preferably more than 250 words, absolute minimum: 100). Include the selected keyword phrase several times throughout the text, as some search engines reward some repetition.

Again, do not go overboard on this. The language must seem natural and search engines will punish too many repetitions. We have also reason to believe that Google will become suspicious if you include only one form of the term, hence see to it that you include at least two variations of the keyword (e.g. "search engine" and "search engines").

Also remember that people are going to read this. Good copy sells.

Make sure you include the keyword phrase in the first paragraph of text. By the first paragraph we mean a block of text delineated by a <p> and a</p> tag, consisting of at least two full sentences. Some search engine optimization experts even argue that it helps to start this very first sentence with the relevant keywords.

The search engines are looking for natural language, and give standard text a higher reward than, let’s say, a one-word menu choice.

Sometimes it helps to include the phrase in the last paragraph of a page as well.

Bold text and large sized fonts may help in some search engines. Again: Don't overdo it.

Keyword spam

Previously webmasters would include so-called "hidden keywords" in order to boost ranking. A popular alternative was to include phrases in comment links, like this: <!— search engine keywords -->. This no longer works.

Others would use a non-functioning form tag:

<INPUT type="hidden"
value="mountain ringlet">

Don’t do it! The way the search engines feel about spam ("cheating") right now, they may soon decide to ban sites for doing this.

Keyword density

Search engine marketing experts often try to calculate the keyword density of each search engine and tailor pages for each and every one of them. The keyword density is the relationship between the total number of words on a page and how many times the keyword phrase is included.

To calculate the density, paste the viewable text of the webpage into Word or another word processor or editor and let the program count the total number of words. Then use the search (or find/replace) function to count the keyword phrase. Divide the occurrence of the keyword phrase with the total number of words to find the keyword density.

The optimal keyword density varies from search engine to search engine and over time. Normally it is somewhere between 2 and 5 percent.

However, do not get obsessed with this. Nowadays search engines consider so many factors that the density alone will neither win nor lose the race for you.

Headline Tags

Do include the keyword phrases in headlines. If possible, use the standard headline tags (<h1>, <h2> etc.)

We know that some Web designers avoid these in order to gain control over the visible presentation of the webpage.

However, by using cascading style sheets in combination with the headline tags, you will get even better control of the layout. Put your keyword phrase in the first top-level headline (whether this is <h1> or <h2>).

Other elements

Many search engines will register the image ALT tags, which you can use to describe pictures to people who are using non-graphic browsers (such as Lynx or browsers for the visually impaired) or surfers that have images turned off in order to gain download speed.

Obviously these tags should include a description of the graphic element. Still, the fact that most Web designers include logos and image-based headlines gives you ample opportunity to include keyword phrases.

<A HREF=books/index.html"><IMG
SRC="graphics/books.jpg" WIDTH="60"
BORDER="0" ALT="From Alfred’s
collection of rare and used books, folios,
paperbacks, hardbacks, manuscripts and
publications. "></A>

You can also make use of the link TITLE-tag (not to be confused with the <title>-tag at the top of the HTML-file). This is an addition to the link-tag (or any tag) that that lets you describe the link more thoroughly. The text pops up when someone is moving his or her mouse pointer over the link:

<A HREF="french-cars/renault.html" TITLE="Renault car models of 2001">more about Renault</A>.

Keywords in links and URLs

You should also include keyword phrases in links. Not only do these links improve the ranking of this page; it may also boost the relevancy of the page the link is pointing to. Hence <A HREF="file.html">Click here!</a> is a wasted opportunity.

By the way, you could also name files after the keyword phrase, as well as directories, as some engines take the URL into consideration when calculating the ranking. This is why so many optimization experts argue that you should get a domain name that includes your main keyword.

Given that all the good names are taken, this is easier said than done, but you can at least include the keywords in directory and file names, like this: <A HREF="butterfly/african-butterfly.html">on African butterflies</a>.

Search engines and Web design

Moving text to the top

From a search engine optimization perspective, the perfect webpage has no graphics, no javascript code, no tables; it uses no special plug-ins and contains a lot of normal, readable text.

From a designer’s point of view such pages are, however, painfully boring. We need that logo! Illustrations liven up the page and tables give you control over the layout. Don't worry. There are ways around this problem.

Nevertheless, If it is in any way possible, include you keyword phrases in normal text at the very top of the page, using a relatively small -- but clearly visible -- font size if necessary. If your design does not allow that, do at least include the phrase in image ALT-tags. Reduce the number of images and elements before the main body text as much as possible.

The navigation problem

Readers are used to having the navigation menu to the left of the page. However, if you put the menu in the left hand column of a table, all the text in that column will appear before the regular text in the HTML code.

There are several ways of solving this problem. You could, for instance, move the navigation list to the right).

The design of our Goalgetter Web Search Tutorial is another. If you look carefully at the code behind those pages, you'll see that the text in the left hand column appears after the main center column text in the HTML code!

You may also use CSS and position webpage elements by exact positioning. However, it is harder to make such pages look good in all relevant browsers.

Or you may just let it rest. We tried to force our Wordpress blog software to put the main content first, and found that life was too short!


Sites using framesets (loading different pages into different sections of the browser window) have usually been in deep trouble, as search engines have listed the frameset page only. This means that none of the content pages are listed.

The trick has therefore been to include a keyword rich text in the <NOFRAMES> tag in the frameset file. The <NOFRAMES> tag lets you imbed a separate webpage to be read by surfers that are using browsers that are unable to interpret frames. Search engines that are not spidering the framed pages will normally read this text.

Fortunately more and more search engines are able to follow the links included in the frameset. As far as we can see Yahoo!, Google and MSN can now find framed content pages on a frame-based website.

On the other hand, this means that they will normally ignore the frameset page. Hence the <NOFRAMES>-portion of the frameset page will no longer give a good ranking in these search engines.

Instead you must optimize each and every one of the framed pages. This is actually a good thing, as you can use these pages as doorway pages focusing on one keyword phrase only.

There is one problem, though. The search engines will present a link to the framed pages, not to the frameset itself, which means that your visitors may find themselves stranded on an orphaned page, without navigation tools. You should therefore use a javascript that automatically loads the complete frameset.

The following works well in most browsers. The script is included in the tag of all framed content pages:

<BODY onLoad="if (parent.frames.length==0) top.location='

Change the address (frameset.html is the frameset file). Note that you may submit the framed content pages individually to search engines that do not resolve framesets.

We strongly recommend that you avoid using frames when designing a site.

Directory Structure

Note that the level of the directory where the page is found is important. Higher is considered more important. If the page is buried too deep, the crawler may not go that far and will never find it.

This means that will have a better chance than
subtopic/subsubtopic/index.html. Avoid more than two sub-directory levels.


It is quite possible to submit all your pages to the search engines. Some of them, however, prefer to find your pages themselves. Google will do so, provided it finds a place to start or you give it your home page URL.

The major search engines may give a higher boost to pages they find by themselves, at least on the short term. This is why you should include links to as many pages as possible, not only on your home page, but also on all pages. By doing so, you ensure that the search engine will find as much of your site as possible, wherever it enters the site.

There are limits to how many links you can include on a page, of course, especially if you have a large site. If this is the case, you should make a site map or “hallway page” presenting all sections of your site and including links to most of the pages. Make sure that you include descriptions of the various sections, as search engines like links embedded in normal text. Moreover, your visitors will thank you for it, as it makes it easier to navigate your site.

Some search engines also allow you to send them XML site map files that helps them get an overview of your site.

Flash, image maps and videos

The worst you can do, search engine wise, is to design a home page with no links at all.

Remember, most search engines do not understand Flash. Hence they cannot follow links embedded in your cool Flash intro.

A Flash-only page has no regular text, so there will be nothing for the search engine to base its ranking on. And even the search engines that do follow Flash links, find it hard to make sense out of what the pages are about. Meta tags are not enough.

Search engines also find it hard to follow links in image maps. If you do use Flash or image maps, make sure you include regular links as well, for instance near the bottom of the page. These will also be of help to visually impaired people and others who are unable to use these technologies.

Embedding videos is a great way of adding dymanic content to your site or blog, but do remember to include a paragraph or two describing what the video is about.


One way of including many links on a page, without making the page look crowded, is to hide them, for instance by including 1x1 pixel images that link to hidden pages. This is a popular technique among some search engine "experts" who want to include links to so-called doorway pages that are not be accessed by regular visitors.

Some also put in links with no link text, like this:

<A HREF="hiddenpage.html"></A.>

Again, these are not techniques we would recommend. The way the search engines feel about spam these days, they are bound to do something about this as well. And remember, if one of your competitor reports your spamming to the search engines, it is very likely that the search engines will punish you!

The following techniques may also lead to your site being banned from many of the major search engines.

Redirect pages that use meta-tags or javascript to immediately load a new page. If you need to use redirects, make sure to include a NOINDEX metatag to tell the search engine not to index this page.

Large amount of keyword rich tiny text (FONT SIZE=”1” or relevant CSS tag) near the end of the page.

Keyword stuffing or spamdexing is the repetition of the keyword phrase over and over again. You must work phrases into regular sentences!

Invisible text is text rendered in the same color as the webpage background. White text <FONT COLOR=”#FFFFFF”> on a white (#FFFFFF) background is considered spam, as are small deviations from the same color, as in <FONT COLOR=”#EEEEEE”> or <FONT COLOR=”#EFEFEF”>. The font must be clearly visible for the average viewer.

Note that the search engine spiders do not see tables. Hence a white font in a table with a black background may be considered spam if the page background is white.

(CSS experts may find it tempting to use an external style sheet to hide the code that gives some of the text the same color as the background. As far as we know, search engines are at the moment unable to discover such a trick automatically. However, they will probably do so in the future, and if the search engine staff decides to control your site manually -- for instance because of a tip -- they will find it. Furthermore, do not exclude the css-file from search engine spiders by using the robots.txt file. That will make them suspect foul play.)

The Link Popularity Factors

Link Popularity

The endless arms race between search engines and search engine optimizers has inspired the search engines to find new ways of measuring relevance, preferably using factors that cannot be unduly influenced (read: spammed) by webmasters.

Google led the way by introducing link popularity as a major factor in its ranking algorithms. The idea is quite brilliant. Google reckons that a site with a lot of inbound links that other webmasters find useful must be good, so it gives it an extra boost in the rankings.

There are at least four types of links, giving gains of varying intensity:

Links from the major directories

In general links from major search directories, i.e. Yahoo!, and the Open Directory count a lot (although not as much as they used to). Hence, you should do all you can to get listed in these directories.

Commercial sites must normally pay a fee to get listed in the main Yahoo! directory ( The fee is pretty high and at the moment Yahoo! directory listings do not get favorable treatment in Yahoo! results. Unless you have a large budget or a non-commercial site, we suggest you focus on the Open Directory.

Read our article on Preparing your site for the search directories to learn more about how to convince the editors that your site is worth listing.

Links from related sites

Inbound links from sites related to your topic may also give a fair boost in engines such as Google and Yahoo!.

Google groups related pages in clusters devoted to a specific topic. At the center of these clusters you will find pages with a lot of inbound links from sites in the same cluster. If you can get a link from one of these major sites, you are in luck, as the search engine will find your site more relevant for queries related to this specific topic.

It helps a lot if the text of the inbound link contains the keyword phrase your are optimizing the page for.

Note that search engines such as Google try to find out what the main topic of your page is. One way of doing this is to analyze the main subject matter of sites linking to yours.

Teoma will also analyze the main keyword phrases of your entire site in order to pinpoint the main topic.

Links from unrelated sites

Links from unrelated sites may also count. However, do not expect links from your uncle’s sailing site to do much for your pet project on Tibetan philosophy.

A sudden influx of links from completely unrelated sites may trigger a spam alarm in the search engines. This might actually get you penalized search engine ranking wise.

Avoid link farms!

Links from free-for-all link farms that are set up to increase the participants' link popularity should be avoided at all costs.It didn't take long before clever people out there found ways to spam the link popularity ranking, by establishing link farms where the members are guaranteed links from the other member sites in return for adding a similar link page to their own site.

Google has started punishing sites that have link-farm pages, and other search engines are expected to follow suit.

If you are a member of one of these schemes, delete the relevant link page and ask to be removed from the others.

There are also a lot of free-for-all link collections, “directories,” and “search engines” out there, that are set up to harvest the e-mail addresses of webmasters.

We have reason to believe that these also may lead to a loss of points in the near future. This is why you should not make use of automatic submission services that will submit your site to “thousands” of search engines.

Find related sites

Next you should try to get your site listed at the most important sites in your field of interest. In order to achieve this, you should do the following.

1. To find sites related to your own, search the relevant categories in Yahoo! and the Open Directory. , or do a search in Google for a relevant keyword phrase and see what pops up. Then study some of the most promising to find out which sites are the most popular in this field. You can also check out sites that have links to your major competitor (see below for link lookup).

2. Make a content-rich site of high quality that is bound to interest the editors of the sites you are approaching.

3. Make a “recommended links” section at your own site with sites that might interest your visitors. Yes, you may lose some visitors this way, but the chances are that they will come back to a site that offers a directory that will help them find what they are looking for. Each link should be accompanied by a description.

Actually, the most effective link pages are those that include short reviews of the relevant sites. Optimize these pages for selected keyword phrases, and voilà, you get some extra legitimate doorway pages for free!

Reciprocal linking

4. Write a personal mail to the editor or webmaster of the relevant site and tell her or him that you like the site so much that you have included a review in your resource section.

This is, of course, very flattering, and the person at the other end is bound to visit your site to read what you have written. Therefore, make sure to include the address of the review in the mail.

In your mail you may suggest (but not demand) a reciprocal link. Include a short presentation of your site (two or three paragraphs) and tell her or him how such a link will benefit their visitors. Suggest where on their site a link to your site will be appropriate.

By doing this, you show the recipient that this is more than a standard formula mail, and you are making it easy for them to include a link.

Make sure that the text of the proposed link includes the keyword phrase the page is optimized for. Hence, for the Pandia Search Engine Marketing 101 tutorial, a link named Search Engine Marketing 101 will be much more efficient than a link that simply said Pandia. After all, "search engine marketing" is what this site is about.

However, all your inbound links should not have the same link text. That will definitely make the search engines suspect foul play.

Google gives a lot of weight to the link text itself, and -- to a lesser degree -- also to the text surrounding the link. Hence having some links where the main keywords are in the surrounding text will be fine.

Do not forget to include your Web and email addresses in your letter. Keep the outgoing mail, so that you remember which sites you have approached.

To get more general inbound links, you may consider starting affiliate and award programs. You could also take part in relevant online discussion forums that allows you to include your URL in your signature or member profile.

You will soon find that some of your inbound links do not show up in a few of the search engines. It is tempting to submit these pages to these search engines.

However, we believe you should not do this, unless you have asked the webmaster of the site for permission. Search engines may punish sites that submit too many pages in a given period of time. The site you are trying to help may be approaching that limit.

Some search engines let you do a special search to find sites linking to a special site. We have gathered the relevant search syntax at our submit site page.

Link building, social media style

Web 2.0 is a buzzword for the increasing importance of social sites, i.e. websites where the readers contribute more to the content of the site than the owners themselves.

There are especially three types of social sites that are of importance for search engine marketers: bookmarking sites like, blog trackers and search engines like Technorati, article recommendation sites like digg, and social networks like Facebook, Google+ and twitter.

The main function of bookmarking sites is to help people gather their bookmarks or favorite sites online, making them accessible on any computer.

However, these sites will also generate list of popular web sites and pages, generating traffic. And who knows, a good headline may attract bloggers, leading to more inbound links.

Because of this it is a good idea to make use of the most important ones.

Needless to say, this systems rewards sites with a large number of fresh articles. So do the blog search engines. Many bloggers use these services to track articles within their field of interest.

Make sure your articles are available. Add your RSS feed to all of the blog search engines found at Pandia Powersearch.

Then there are sites like digg and Reddit, where users suggest and vote for interesting articles.

If you can get your article on the front page of digg, your servers will have a tough time handling all the traffic. And again, many of the users of digg are bloggers themselves, and may write about your article.

A word of warning: If you make use of these services, do make use of them beyond proposing your own articles. The active contributors know how to spot a spammer.

Facebook is a closed system, and Bing is the only search engine that has integrated Facebook data in its search engine results. Google can only make use of public profile pages. That does not mean that a Facebook presence does not help your search engine rankings. The point is to make people write about you and link to you, and if a Facebook entry is what makes them do that, Facebook becomes a useful search engine marketing tool.

We know for a fact that Google make use of Twitter data when determining search engine rankings. That is: A link in a tweet from an authoritative "tweep" may give you a slight boost in rankings. What's even more important is the fact that Google uses twitter to identify new content, which means that a mention in a tweet may get your new page indexed in minutes, instead of days!

It therefore make sense to establish a twitter account and use that account to gain legitimacy and credibility online. That does require a lot of work, though.

Note also that the search engines now include social media content in search engine results, often integrated in normal web search results. They may also include a separate section for "real time" results, which often is links to twitter tweets.

Link strategies: the risk involved

In November 2003 Google applied a new "filter" to its search engine algorithm that reduced the ranking of some heavily optimized pages for some selected popular search queries. Google was clearly tired of webmasters trying to influence search results without giving searchers the quality content they look for.

Since then google has tightened the screw and is now actively punishing web pages which are aggressively gathering links. The normal tip off for google is when a web site gets a large number of inbound links from unrelated web sites with the same link text in a very short time.

However, if you do not overdo it, you have no reason to worry. You need a significant number of incoming links targeting the exact same search phrase to trigger this penalty.

Remember though, that in order to make sure that your site keeps its good rankings, you must turn it into a content rich and "authoritative" site that attracts visitors for the information it provides. Google does not owe you as a webmaster anything, and can at any time change its algorithms.

One thing is certain, however: Google wants happy searchers that come back and use their search engine again and again. That means that they will always reward sites that provide relevant content!

Submitting Sites

Here is the good news: Sites that are already represented i a search engine index need not submit their pages on a regular basis. As long as there is a link between a page already in the search engine index and the new page, the search engine will find it.

(That does not guarantee its inclusion, however, but that is another matter.)

There are still companies out there that try to sell you submission services for the search engines. These are of no use whatsoever. Unless your page is an isolated island in the wide ocean of the world wide web, the search engines will find it. You do not need to tell them about it.

If you do want to keep them up to date on the structure of your web site, you may provide them with an XLM site map, but this is not necessary.

One quite efficient way of getting a web page indexed early, is to tweet about it on Twitter. If several persons link to the same page in a short time -- or you have established a reputation as a serious and popular "tweep", the search engines will soon sniff out that particular page.

Search engines vs. search sites and portals

Please note the difference between a search engine and a search site. A search engine is the database that delivers search results, a search site is the website that lets you search this database. Some search engines are used by many search sites.

There are now only two major search engines left in the English speaking world: Google and Bing (which also powers Yahoo!). In other parts of the world, there may be other important players, like Yandex in Russia or Baidu in China.

To make things confusing, most search sites also present results from search directories (i.e. catalogs of sites hand picked by human editors, cf. the Yahoo! Directory or the Open Directory). This is why some search engines will ask you to submit your site to the directory as well as to the search engine.

Most search sites and metasearch sites will add links from fee-based pay-per-click search engines.

Checking your ranking

The time it takes for search engines to revisit your site and refresh their database will vary. Normally it takes from two to six weeks.

There are two main exceptions to this general rule:

If you update your site frequently, a search engine like Google may consider it newsworthy and start crawling it more often, normally every day. This may even get you a small boost in the rankings.

The good thing about being revisited frequently is that you may evaluate the effect of your search engine optimization efforts much sooner, which gives you more room for experimentation. If your new coding does not work out, you may return to your old version more quickly, without loosing significant amounts of traffic.

If you have a site with a large number of pages, or many sites, checking your ranking for all relevant keyword phrases, may be very time consuming.

Important Note: This is an archived version of Pandia's Marketing 101 article. We made this available mainly because it's still one of the most sought article among many others. Please be aware that some content on this article may be outdated since its not updated since long.