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Getting Your Homepage Listed at the
Major Search Engines

With Emphasis on Personal Homepages at Web Communities Like GeoCities, Tripod, Xoom, AOL and Hypermart


Introduction

One of the most frequently asked questions I've seen in the GeoCities help forums is, "Why doesn't my page show up in the search engines?" To help I've compiled what I hope is some useful information about getting listed, as well as some specific suggestions about the individual search engines. While this page was put together for people who have homepages at web communites like GeoCities, Xoom, Tripod, AOL, Hypermart and others, these suggestions will be helpful no matter where you are on the Internet. Although difficult, it is possible to get a GeoCities page listed at Yahoo! And by paying attention to some of the ideas presented here you should be able to get listed at just about any search engine. It can be a lot of work, but you will be rewarded with more hits. And you'll learn a lot about how the search engines work just by spending time at them and submitting your pages.

Disclaimer: These are merely suggestions to help you get listed at various search engines. I cannot guarantee that any of this will work. All of these search engines may not accept any submission for a variety of reasons.


General Information

Build a good page! Don't submit your page until you feel it is ready. Focus on a single topic. If you have a page about poetry, dog grooming and Pearl Jam, you'll probably be ignored by many of the search engines. Make your site the best you can. Avoid long downloads, especially on the main page. Make it easy to get around and find your way back. Repair all broken links. Update often. Use meta tags and a descriptive title.


Proper Use of Meta Tags

It is a good idea to have proper "keyword" and "description" meta tags on your page for the search engines that use them. (Yahoo! and Excite ignore meta tags.) Unless you are using proper names (ie "Paul McCartney") you should use lower case for your keywords because most people search with lower case anyway. Some search engines are case sensitive, most are not. For proper names you may want to use both "Paul McCartney" and "paul mccartney," but do not overdo this or you may end up with a spam problem (see below). For more information on meta tags or if you don't know what they are, click on this link: A more in-depth look at meta tags


Your Title Counts

Yes, it matters what you put between the title tags on your main page(s). If you have a U2 page, don't put something like "My PopMart Photo Page" as the title. Use "Photos from U2's PopMart Shows" instead. Otherwise your page may get overlooked if someone uses "U2" as a keyword in their search, or your page may end up further down the list of all the U2 sites. Also, the search engines generally list your page under your chosen title so think about how you want someone to see your page if they find it in a search engine. Do you want someone to see "Bill's Cool U2 Page"? Or "A Complete History of U2's PopMart Tour"? Be descriptive.

Avoid Spamming

Do not use repetitious keywords in your meta tags. Do not hide text in your document by using a font color that is the same color as your background color. Do not put repeated keywords in comments tags. Many of the search engines will ignore your submission if you use these "spamming" techniques.




The Major Search Engines (Hopefully) Demystified


AltaVista

AltaVista is perhaps the friendliest search engine for getting your page listed. Pages are easy to submit and show up quickly, usually within a day or two. They have one of the most popular and best search engines on the Web. They also have a rudimentary translation service if you find a page in a foreign language you don't understand. Add Your Site to AltaVista Here

Excite

Excite is notoriously slow in getting your pages listed, but be persistent. If you don't see your page about 2-3 weeks after you have submitted it, try again. They'll get around to it eventually. Excite claims to be updating the way pages are submitted, but they've had that message on their page for quite awhile now. Excite's URL Submission Page

If you have trouble getting listed at Excite read their getting listed on Excite page. It contains a lot of useful information.

Hotbot

My experience with getting listed at Hotbot has been this: submit your page, then wait for a confirming email from Hotbot. If you don't receive this email message from them within 3-4 weeks, then go to Hotbot and see if your site is there. If not, then resubmit. They seem to be slow in picking up some pages, so be patient. Hotbot's Submit Page

Infoseek

Infoseek ignores submissions done through the add URL form at their webpage from certain large web sites like GeoCities, Tripod, Hypermart and AOL. However you can still submit your page by sending email to Infoseek's Email URL Submission Address. Put your URL (beginning with http://) in the main body of the message with no other text. You may submit more than one URL at the same time, each on a single line. This is the ONLY way your GeoCities page (and other "community" pages) will get listed at Infoseek. This process takes at least a week, usually longer.

Lycos

I've found Lycos to be very slow in picking up "community" homepages like GeoCities, AOL, etc. Submit and wait sometimes 3 months! Add Your Site to Lycos Here (and wait)

Tripod Note: Lycos owns Tripod and generally will list Tripod pages in their directory. And just to keep things interesting: Angelfire is owned by WhoWhere, which also happens to be owned by Lycos...and Lycos now owns Hotbot too...

Webcrawler

Webcrawler is owned by Excite, but it is a separate entity. So you should submit to both Excite and Webcrawler to get listed on both. Go to Webcrawler's Submit Page. You may submit your index page as well as your main sections. Do not submit every page, just the ones that open a new main section of your site.

Yahoo!

The best and best known search engine on the Web, although actually it's really a web directory rather than a search engine. Each submission is reviewed by an actual person who decides if your page should be included in their extensive database. If you get listed on Yahoo! you will get hits. To submit your page go to the Yahoo! main page and find the best category for your site. (You can see this site's category below.) Keep clicking down through the subcategories where you think your site belongs, then click on the "suggest a site" link at the bottom of the page and follow the instructions. Make sure you compose a good phrase or sentence (25 words or less) to describe your site. It takes 2-3 weeks before your site will get reviewed by a Yahoo! editor. If you don't hear from them your page was not chosen to be included in their index. They email you if your page makes it in. I recommend that you should not resubmit your site for at least 1-2 months (and during that time you should fine tune your website). If you continually submit your site to Yahoo! they will probably ignore it altogether. Meta tags are ignored by Yahoo! They look for strong site content. And your page must be focused on the topic. If your main page includes a wide range of topics you will probably not get listed. If your page is under construction, poorly designed and contains a lot of broken links, you will certainly not get listed.

This webpage is listed at Yahoo! under: Computers and Internet:Internet:World Wide Web:Information and Documentation:Site Announcement and Promotion:Search Engine Placement Improvement




Closing Tidbits

How to Determine if Your URL Was Picked up by the Search Engines

Two to four weeks after submitting your page you should go visit each search engine. Type in some keywords that best represent your site and check the results. Or you can try one of the many URL checkers out there. I think a good one is Position Agent. It's free. You can check all the major search engines at once by simply entering a URL and keywords. Make sure you click on the "search/text only" button -- the other button tends to crash some browsers.

You may also want to try MetaCrawler or Dogpile, search engines that do your searches at several of the major search engines and return ranked results to you.



For a more in-depth look at the Search Engines try The Search Engine Watch Page

Please email me if you have any suggestions about this page. Or if you have any other ideas about getting listed at the search engines you'd like to share with your fellow Geocitizens and other homepage builders.



Want more hits? I recommend this book:
Increase Your Web Traffic in a Weekend
by William Stanek

you can order it from Amazon.com
just click on the cover

in association with
in association with amazon.com
  Increase Your Web Traffic in a Weekend



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28 march 1998



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text ©1998 Joe Beine



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