This is a common request. Everyone wants to be listed at the top of the first page in a search engine. With the millions of web sites that are out there, the competition is fierce and a high ranking requires a commitment of both time and resources. The web is filled with "Be number 1 on Google" companies who use automated software to submit your site to search engines, don't deliver on the promise, and can even get your site banned by using unscrupulous methods. When contemplating a search engine optimization campaign, it helps to have a little simplified background information on how search engines work.
Search engines like Google, “crawl” web pages using automated software. The software then ranks sights according to a formula, and adds them to their searchable database. Normally, you don't have to submit a page to Google as their crawling system will find your page on it's own, if it is properly optimized. Yahoo, on the other hand, is an example of a human-powered “directory”. You normally submit a short description and a live person reviews it and decides whether it is eligible for inclusion. When a search is conducted, it is compared to this description.
Google is constantly improving their search engine ranking formulas, (even making changes monthly) and the best search engine optimization specialist will have the expertise to achieve lasting results. Although there are many variables and differences with the way search engines rank a page, some of the criteria are used almost universally. If you read the article on planning a web site, you already know the importance of keywords. Keywords are specifically the words that a visitor types into a search engine. Search engines tend to place a high importance on the frequency and location of the keywords that match a search term. A page is likely to rank higher if the web pages include a high number of the relevant keywords, and it also helps if these keywords are close to the top of a page and included in links. Speaking of links, another method used to rank pages is a formula search engines use to rank link relevance. The search engine looks for the amount of “relevant” sites that link to you. An art supplier with many links from art related web sites would have a high relevance factor for a user searching for "art supplies". If the sites that link to you are not related to your content, then your link relevance will be much lower, (this is why link farms do not work). In addition, invisible page content called “Meta Tags” can have a small impact on rankings, so it is very important that a web designer include the proper meta tags into your web pages.
All search engines operate differently and this is the reason why an identical search will reveal different results in different search engines. Some directories require a fee to even evaluate whether they will list you in their directory and “click through programs” and “adwords” require fiancial investments as well.
The first step is to evaluate the impact of search engine inquiries on your web site traffic and sales. Ask yourself where your business actually comes from. If a sizeable portion of your business comes from user searches, then it is well worth investigating an optimization campaign. If however, you are a doctor with a practice in a small geographic market, do the majority of people really look for a doctor on the internet through a search engine? An alternative method is to evaluate where your potential clients already spend time on the internet. A chiropractor for example, would find that potential clients spend time researching back pain and treatment options. A chiropractor looking to increase his business would achieve optimal results by basic search engine optimization combined with an internet marketing campaign. By adding targeted marketing to his efforts, (writing articles, PR pieces and advertising) on another web site that has a local area support group for persons with back pain, he will more effectively reach his target local market.
If your web site depends on search engines for traffic, it is crucial to hire a company that understands not only search engines, but your traffic patterns and target market as well. An ongoing internet marketing campaign may include banner advertising, email databases and an extensive amount of self-promotion. A well-developed campaign will not only result in increased web traffic, but will deliver what you're really after -- a bigger bottom line.