The Importance of Search Engine Positioning

This is going to sound silly to many of you, but I have a feeling that many who are in business on the Web actually *underestimate* the power of optimal search engine placement. Don't shrug your shoulders and read on, thinking "I devote a lot of time to it - this isn't for me"; it is for you too - I used to think the same way.

To be precise, I think that many underestimate what good positioning in the search engines can do for >them< because they have tried and tried and failed to achieve the results they wanted.

It took me over a year to figure out that if my pages aren't appearing at the top, then perhaps I am doing something wrong. I was stuck in a "submission rut", doing one thing, believing that it would work, and only tinkering with minor details, because that's what the "experts" told me to do. I was comfortable with what I was doing, because I had mastered my little technique, even though it was not generating the results I wanted.

Then, Infoseek started dropping my pages signaling to me that it was time for a new method. I went back to the drawing board, analyzing competitor's sites, looking at the source, trying to figure out why they were at the top, and I was #35. Everyone does this, I know, ad we are often driven crazy by the fact that there seem to be no discernible differences between our #35 an their #3. I was bewildered, as I am to this day, by a problem that seemed to have no logical solution, no matter how hard I tried to analyze it.

That's when I decided to apply a sort of "scientific process" to the task of page optimization and submission. I decided to look at all search engines individually, going back ad re-learning what I knew about each one on its own, without grouping them all together as I was previously prone to do. The top six *search engines*, plus the new one, Northern Light, all have greatly differing qualities, that I set out to understand and implement in my pages. I created gateway pages specifically intended to be indexed well by each search engine, optimizing all the various areas to fit the whim of a particular spider.

What found out in the beginning of this process is that attempting to gain position at the top within a single keyword query can make one mad. And not only that, it can be somewhat counterproductive as someone searching for "bean", may not be at all interested in your coffee bean shop, but rather the film character, or the scientific properties of the dark red kidney bean. In short, keyword phrases bring in qualified leads, while one-word queries often don't. (Check your logs - those coming from the search engines and leaving from your front page were looking for something else.)

So I started concentrating on keyword phrases, or to be precise, I started including keyword phrases in everything: the title, meta keyword and description tags, commented keyword lists, other keyword lists, and, most importantly, the headings and text within the body of the page. I have found out through experience, after not believing the advice of others, that search engines pay particular attention to what is found within the tags. If you have a particular keyword phrase appear there a few times, and then repeat it regularly throughout the normal text portion of your document, then chances are that your page will do well. Of course, as I already stated, you'll want to include these same keyword phrases within the tags as often as possible. Using this careful method, you should, at least in theory :-) , achieve success.

Don't get discouraged if you don't do well in the search engines; shift your focus a little, and try a different approach. Linking, banner ads, and other strategies are great, but remember, when a searcher enters a particular search string of two-three words, and your site comes up in the top ten, he/she is your client! He's looking for you, and your title ad description better drag them in. Everyone else is just surfing.

Good Luck