Searching for your best chance of being noticed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2000, 12:00am

No matter how much time and money you invest in building what you probably think is a world-beating Web site, the effort is wasted without visitors.


Most Web-site builders tend to live in hope that their uniqueness, style and quality will enable them to rise above the crowd like a beacon and that, with the help of no more than a couple of press releases and an ad on the side of a bus, they will attract enthusiastic Web-surfers by the million.


They are wrong, of course.


For one thing, there is nothing new under the sun, nor on the Internet.


No matter how original you think your idea is, there is certain to be someone else with the same idea, taking some of your potential visitors.


The most valuable tool for getting your Web site noticed by the world is not a high-class graphic designer, a powerful Web server or a press conference.


The way to win friends and influence people on the Web is a little harder than that, but it won't cost you a cent.


Search engines are the most important tool for getting your Web site noticed. But with most of the major sites indexing tens of millions of pages, it is not unusual to find your site submerged a thousand links below your competitors.


Check Microsoft's Position Agent [http://positionagent.linkexchange.


com] to see how your site ranks on some of the leading engines.


The key to getting a good ranking on the major search engines is hidden away in the top few lines of your HTML code. The title bar, which many sites stupidly ignore, and the meta tags, which many Webmasters simply do not understand, can be the difference between getting a top 10 result on Yahoo! or Altavista, and drowning in a sea of irrelevant search results.


The problem with submitting your site to the search engines is that most of them use different criteria to rank their sites. Some insist on a limit to the number of keywords in a site, others ignore keywords. Some allow a brief description, some want just a title.


Submitting your site to multiple sites with a tool such as Microsoft's Submitit [http://www.submit-it.com] might get you noticed but will rarely give you a decent ranking.


To keep up with the foibles of individual search engines, Search Engine Watch [http://www.searchengine watch.com] is the premium place to start. It has probably the largest database of search engine information you will find on-line.


Unfortunately, to get access to much of the in-depth coverage there you will be expected to pay US$69 a year.


SubmitCorner [http://www.submitcorner.com] is another site worth visiting, with a great deal of helpful advice on rankings and meta tags, as well as an automated meta-tag generator; a meta-tag scanner, to test your site's tags; and a link scanner to check for broken links.