Promoting your small business website in the search engines can
be a daunting task. Use of free submissions and link popularity
is a good starting point for your website promotion campaign.
Start with the basis of good search engine and directory
listings. Make sure you read and follow each search engine and
directory's rules for submissions. Before making submissions,
always verify that all your website links and pages work, with
no pages "under construction".
Search Engines and Directories
Begin with the Open Directory Project (ODP http://www.dmoz.org).
ODP is free and provides secondary search results to many other
search engines. (Secondary search results are search results
that come up after the primary search results of a search engine
are shown.) Google uses the ODP directory results in their
search engine results.
It is preferable to secure a listing in ODP before submitting
your website to Yahoo!, but it often takes time to become listed
in ODP and may not be possible. If you can afford a yearly
$299.00 subscription to submit to Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com),
do so. If you are a non- commercial website, you may be able to
submit your website for free. You will find the rules about free
submissions when you click on the "suggest a site" link at the
bottom of your chosen category page.
Google is the top search engine and one you want to be listed
in. Google provides secondary search results to other search
engines and directories.
If you do B2B (business-to-business) with other companies,
Business.com (http://www.business.com) is a reasonable $99.00
subscription per year and gives you the opportunity to list not
only your home page, but four other pages from your website. The
Business.com search results are used by many other business
sites for search results.
Inktomi is a good choice for a reasonably priced link (yearly
fee of $39.00 for first page, $25.00 per page 2-1000 for
additional pages) and will get you into secondary search results
for the MSN search engine. Position Technologies has a good
submission program available for Inktomi
Zeal.com (http://www.zeal.com) listings are part of the
LookSmart directory, which provides primary search listings for
MSN. You must sign-up to become a Zeal editor and pass a test
before being able to add your non-commercial submissions to
Zeal. Articles and tutorials are good choices to use when
submitting non-commercial information from your website to
Many of the major search engines still include a free submission
section for their listings. Paid Inclusion and PPC
(pay-per-click) are always the faster choices, but if your
budget is limited you may want to consider submitting and
waiting the 6-8 weeks (or more) it often takes to see your
listings show up.
Major search engines providing free submissions include: Google
(http://www.google.com), AltaVista (http://www.altavista.com),
and AlltheWeb (http://www.alltheweb.com).
Secondary search engines you can submit to for free include
Gigablast (http://www.gigablast.com) and ScrubtheWeb
(http://www.scrubtheweb.com). One smaller directory is JoeAnt
Link Popularity Methods
If you are a small business, seek out business directories to
submit to, especially those directly related to your business.
Looking in Yahoo! and ODP categories for business directories
can be very helpful in getting a start on your search for links.
For link popularity, searching in Google is a quick way to find
suitable websites to request links from or submit to.
Search for specialty search engines. If your business is in the
medical field, search for medical search engines.
When looking for link partners, select sites that reflect your
website's topic or subject. Links from sites that are not
related to your site are not weighted as heavily by the search
engines in deciding how to rank your site.
Visit your competition's websites. See how they are ranking in
the search engines and find out which keywords they are found
Link popularity is a very time-consuming activity, be prepared
to spend a minimum of 10-20 hours in order to start building
your link popularity. This may be a daunting enough task you
might want to consider working with a search engine marketing
It is always a good idea to keep in mind that many tools are not
"exact" and can vary due to the search engine algorithms
changing (which can be often). I like to think of it as an
"approximation" of the information I am seeking.
The Google Toolbar (http:/ oolbar.google.com) shows you the
approximate link popularity of other websites (note the green
bar that says "PageRank" after downloading the tool), as well as
giving you choices such as checking backlinks (who is linking to
the webpage), similar pages, a cached snapshot of the page and
more when you right-click on the web page. Visit your
competition's webpage, then use the toolbar to view who is
linking to them.
The PageRank and backlink information is very helpful in regards
to researching your competition. The backlinks you find via the
toolbar may show you some quality websites to submit links to.
Seek out websites with PageRank 4 and up to get the most out of
your submitted or reciprocal link. Hovering your mouse over the
Google Toolbar tells you the page rank of the website.
To learn about writing an email request for a reciprocal link
and other linking strategies, visit Eric Ward's website
The Overture suggestion tool
a free way to check how popular your keyword phrases are in
comparison to the monthly results of Overture. This will not
give you a complete picture since Overture is used on many but
not all search engines. It will help you decide which keyword
phrases are the best choice, as well as as variations on your
MarketLeap (http://www.marketleap.com/) measures your link
popularity, and that of three of your competitors. The report is
free and gives you a benchmark showing where your popularity
lies online vs your competitors.
Lastly, if you want to "do it yourself", the top places I've
found to research and learn from are Search Engine Watch
(http://www.searchenginewatch.com) and Webmaster World
(http://www.webmasterworld.com). Search Engine Watch and
Webmaster World's sister site, Search Engine World
(http://www.searchengineworld.com) both have free newsletters
full of information to help you promote your website.
About the author:
Daria Goetsch is a Search Engine Marketing Consultant for Search
Innovation, a Search Engine Marketing company serving small
businesses. Her background involves many years as a Search
Engine Marketing Consultant, including three years as the Search
Engine Specialist for O'Reilly & Associates.