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by Richard Zwicky

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This article from The Mender (Issue 10),
Metamend's Web Site Optimization and Marketing Newsletter.


Let's tackle some fundamental questions about search engine optimization and hopefully de-mystify why certain things happen and why search engine marketing encompasses much more than merely submitting your site to the search engines and expecting a good ranking.

Last Things First.
It's a surprise to most people that one of the very -final- steps in the process of search engine optimization and website promotion is the actual submission of the site to the search engines. Most folks want to get their site in there "As soon as possible." In reality, the exact opposite of this philosophy is your best bet. You need to concentrate on building a content-rich, easily indexable, website first.

Many websites had handicaps built into them during the initial design phases, mostly by using non-search engine friendly formats. An example of this would be Flash and dynamically generated sites. Although they may look pretty, search engines do not index them easily. They may try, but they will never be successful. The reason? Flash and dynamic sites are never the same twice. They may look the same to you on your computer, but to a search engine they are different every time they are "spidered." If they constantly change, the search engines cannot effectively get a "grip" on the metatag coding within the pages and may give up trying to index it or even worse, refuse the site entirely. It's one of the core issues that Metamend deals with, and corrects. I-Mall sites are a prime example of a very difficult format to get indexed properly.

One of the most frequently asked questions about search engine optimization is "How long before I can expect to see results?" After a few weeks you may start noticing increases in visitor traffic to your site, but it may take from four to six months for the engines to accurately index your site. Even when you see the first effects, you'll notice your ranking results change from to-week, and sometimes even day to day. This is due, in part to existing indexed competition but also to the idiosyncrasies of search engine result gathering. The results can be pulled from different indexes from one hour to the next, and results can vary from index to index even within the same engine. Why? The reason is simple.

Because the search engines use multiple systems and spiders to index the internet, results are constantly pulled from different indexes. The search engines are desperately trying to keep up with all the new pages, and the internet is so huge, and growing so quickly that even the search engines themselves can never be completely up to date. It can take months for your submission to be properly found at all hours of the day, from all indexes within all the different possible engines. Give it time. Be patient. Plan the lag time into your online business growth plan.

A lot of people ask us: "Can I expect a number one ranking on every search engine, once my site has been optimized?", and we answer them honestly "Well...only if your subject matter is so obscure that no one else in the world is competing with you, yet everyone else in the world is trying to find you!" It's more realistic to expect a steady growth pattern in traffic spanning many months which is mirrored by increased return visits to your site. Once your customers find you, (and that's one of the goals of Metamend), they will spend more time on your site and return to it from time to time. This fact will be reflected in your stats by the relationship between individual page views and unique visitor statistics.

The number of page views in relation to the number of visitors should steadily increase. There are many others ways to bring traffic to your site but Search Engine Optimization is a crucial step in obtaining proper relevant indexing, so make sure your site is ready before engaging those engines. Or better yet, let us do it for you!

Other articles from this issue:
- Software Upgrades? ... Don't Forget Your Hardware
- Website Sound

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