Changes in Search Engines

Search engines will be a major factor in how well your site performs on the Web. They are also one of the most frustrating and confusing parts of having a successful website.

Search engines are essentially the "yellow pages" of the web, and are constantly changing how they accept and index sites. The reason they change their policies so often is to provide the most relevant search results they can, and to discourage companies who "cheat" for a better search engine placement.  

There have been many changes to the search engine over the last few months, and I thought it would be a good time to revisit the major ones.  

The main change is the number of search engines that accept free submissions is dwindling. I have heard a lot of people complaining about this because the web is supposed to be "free". When the web was developed, it was intended to provide information quickly and for free. However, as more and more businesses started doing business on-line, and making money, it became a new advertising medium. You would never ask the phone book or radio station to "list" your ad for free. Why would you expect Yahoo! or Google to do it?

There are hundreds of search engines and directories currently on the web. However, 5 of them are responsible for about 93% of all web searches. Quite frankly, many of the other search engines are there to gather your contact information and then sell it.  

As of the writing of this article (April 2002, updated March 2006), the major search engines are: Yahoo, Google, Netscape, Ask Jeeves, MSN, AOL, Open Directory Project and Overture.  

AOL, Netscape, and Ask Jeeves do not accept submissions directly. Instead, they rely on other search engines or directories to supply their search results. For example: AOL and Netscape use Google, while Ask Jeeves uses Yahoo. 

Link popularity is based on the number of RELEVANT links to and from your site. A search engine will visit your site and count the number of links to and from it. The more links you have, the higher your link popularity. The catch is that the links must be relevant to your site and your visitors. If you are selling wedding dresses, then links to a florist, limo service, caterer would all be relevant. However, a link to a bait shop or machine shop would not be. Non-relevant links will actually lower your link popularity. Google is one search engine that weighs link popularity very highly when indexing a site.

April 1, 2002

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