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Effective website submission preparation & method

This discussion is about two primary concepts: 1) getting your web page ready for submission to search engines, and 2) how to submit to paid inclusion search engines. The first part, Getting Your Web Pages Ready for Search Engines, is based on our experience and favorable results through using the techinques described below. It's likely your website project can't afford to take a chance on search-results luck. You should know that carefully constructed web pages that follow these guidelines will probably benefit more than you can imagine in terms of search result position.

The tasks described below may be more involved than you want to take on. If you would like for us to review your website and do this work for you please let us know using this form.

Much has been said in other discussions about whether - or why - to use a paid website submission service. As the search engine industry has evolved, so have the ways to get your website to or near the top of the search results.

Undoubtedly, you are by now aware that it is almost impossible to get a top listing on a major search engine or directory website without having to pay one or more of them. If you are scrimping to keep your online business online, then you are probably still NOT getting the quantity of quality traffic to your website to get "the numbers" to work for you.

If there is money involved with your website, particularly if you are the owner of a website from and through which you are trying to derive an income, then your approach to website submission should now be much different than it was up until about mid-2000. This is described in Step 3, below.

Getting Your Web Pages Ready for Search Engines

Steps to make the change

As professional website designers and builders we have learned some of the needed technique the hard way. The steps below should help you avoid having to learn the way we did, and to quickly boost both your quality of web traffic and quantity of web traffic by making your website and it's pages easier to find in search engines and directories where they are (or will become) listed.

As we see it, Step 1 doesn't begin with who to buy your paid submission service from, or even how much to pay... that comes in Step 3. Much of this may sound rudimentary, but take a chance...

Step 1: You need to have correctly formed HTML

Newer browsers are very forgiving of poorly constructed HTML, but the search engines are not so forgiving. So, go look at your HTML source code. Do it this way: for each page on your production website (the actual website on the Internet, not the develoment copy on your workstation), surf to and display one of your web pages in an up-to-date web browser. Then, using the browser, select the browser's option to view the source code for that web page. The intent is to see your web-page code exactly as a search engine is going to see it.

If you are building your website with a software tool that does not automatically construct DTD (document type definition) statements for you, then you most likely will not see (in the source code you are inspecting) a DTD statement. You need to update your website development software to a tool that builds and includes correct DTD statements.

You should next see the <html> and <head> statements. If you don't have these statements, check some more of your web pages to see that you did not accidentally delete the statement in the other page. If your web page editor/development software is not putting these statements in the code for you, junk the software, as you are wasting your time with it.

Immediately after the <head> tag should be the <title> tag. You probably already know that the <title> tag is valid only in the area between the <head> and </head> tags. Mechanically, the <title> and </title> tags, in that order and as a pair, can be anywhere in between the two <head> tags and will be evaluated as correct HTML by browsers, search engines, and the HTML code evaluation tool at . BUT, for your own sake, make the <title> tag the FIRST item after the <head> tag. This will help immensely with the way search engines evaluate your web pages. Don't forget to put some text as the actual TITLE between the tags that is both a good and fair representation of your web page's content. Some HTML editors will automatically put other tags in front of the <title> tag, and even if you manually rearrange the statements, the editor will re-rearrange the statements back to its perceived correct order when you save the web page. This is BAD. If you have an editor that does this, junk your editor and update your HTML editor to a tool that does not rearrange your code without your explicit instruction to do so.

Continue with this line of investigation for each of the tags used on your pages. If your web pages validate correctly using the HTML Validator at there is a good chance that you have done what you need to do to build a quality web page, assuming that your content has some merit.

After much review, possibly some corrections, and maybe a new HTML editor, you should be able to construct technically correct HTML documents that will pass the validation process at the URL mentioned above. If you add Javascript, or use layers in your pages, or other constructs, there is likelihood that your pages will not validate. Layers are an example of an HTML construct that are not defined in the's definition of HTML 4.x specifications. This does not mean that your pages are prevented from ranking well, other things considered, but most likely pages with layers will not be able to validate at the W3 validator.

Step 2: Use of Meta tags

Can you remember what it was we set out to do? It was to get your pages ready to be competitive against other well developed websites... in the "eyes" of the search engines. But, you may ask, didn't this discussion start out with mention of paid inclusion relative to search engines? Yes, it did. And, unless you've got enough money to just buy ga-jillions of advertising spots on the Internet, there are some more steps you need to evaluate and consider for your website's pages. ALL of them.

Once you have assured yourself that your web pages have both technically correct HTML construction, and that the <title> tag immediately follows the <head> tag ... on every page ... then you are ready to add some meta tags to the <head> section of each of your documents. Our objective is to get some specific <meta> tags in the proper place in your web page's code, each with proper and meaningful attributes.

For each META tag you simply assign a name value which is unique on the web page, and one or more valid attributes to the instance of the indivudual meta tag. How the attribute is used and interpreted is up to the entity that uses the attribute(s) of any meta tag that it evaluates. Usually the "entity" is a search engine or a web browser.

Since meta tags can be used to assign just about anything, you can create your own for special purposes, but that is a task beyond the scope of this discussion. Here, we just want to get a great search engine search-result ranking for your website. So, let us continue.

Search engines have come to use a defacto standard for a few meta tags, and in particular we are concerned here with the meta tags for "description" and "keywords". Back when search engines were "kind of smart" (before they became "really smart"), they relied heavily on the use of these meta tags in web pages for cataloging the websites they crawled and evaluated. That is not always the case now.

In a simplistic example, the values of certain meta tags allowed the search engines to copy the contents of the content attribute. The search engine could store and reference that relatively small amount of information easily and not have to store the entire contents of a web page. Many still do use the meta tag data in the process of indexing a website, although newer, "smarter" search engines also consider and use other elements of a web page to evaluate the page for placement in the search engine's index.

If you don't already have the description meta tag and the keywords meta tag in every page on your website, then they need to be added. The value of their content attribute on every page should probably be unique to the page, and ideally would also be different from the content values of corresponding meta tags on every other page on your site. Hopefully, the values of the content attribute represent each web page's unique content, in the context of the value of the name attribute. To fullfill that mouthfull of "shoulds" is potentially a big task. Likely - it isn't as big a task as it may seem, and if your product or service is worth the effort and you follow the remaining steps, it is also likely you will be glad you made the effort when you see how the effort contributes to the your website's favorable rankings in the search-results game. We didn't make the rules on how to play the search engine game, but we could write a book how it is played.

Description META tag format example:

The HTML "meta tag" is a singleton tag; it has no closing slash. This page you are now reading uses a description meta tag that looks like this if you were to look at the actual HTML code:

<meta name="description" content="Preparing a website page for paid inclusion in search engines, getting your web page ready for submission to search engines, how to submit to paid inclusion search engines">

In English, this is a description meta tag. It is so because the value of the name attribute is description. Likewise, the name by which we refer to any other meta tag is based on what is between the double-quotes associated with the name attribute.

For the description meta tag, the actual description for our web page is supplied as the value of the content attribute, and in the case of this example is:

Preparing a website page for paid inclusion in search engines, getting your web page ready for submission to search engines, how to submit to paid inclusion search engines.

Always use the double-quote character on each end of each attribute's value, as in the full example above. Don't use the double-quote in the middle of the description itself as the double-quote character delineates the beginning and the ending of the value of the content attribute . The order of the attributes within the tag should not matter, although convention is to put the name attribute first.

Advice from experience

For the words you use between the <title> </title> tags, and the words you put in the content attribute of the description and keywords <meta> tags, choose only words that are used in the text of your web page. If you use words in these tags that are not used in the text of your page, likely your web page will get penalized in terms of a search engine's ranking of the page, especially with the newer, "smarter" search engines. Newer search engines may assume you are trying to trick them if the values of the attributes don't match somewhere in the <body>'s text, and the engine may either rank your page lower, or not at all.

Keywords META tag format example:

The keywords meta tag uses the same format as the description meta tag described above. The keywords meta tag for this page you are now reading looks like this if you were to look at the actual HTML code:

<meta name="keywords" content="meta tag, usage, format, web page preparation, paid inclusion, search engine, listing, preparation">

As above, in English, this is a keywords meta tag. It is so because the value of the name attribute is keywords.

The Content-Type meta tag

We believe that the content-type meta tag will also help with page rankings. While its purpose is to bind text/html; charset=iso-8859-1 to something called a response header, it can also be used by a search engine as part of its evaluation of the web page. Whether any of the search engines actually do that is unknown, but more importantly, it is good form in the construction of your document.

The content-type meta tag sets the http-equivalence, and does not need to use the name attribute (as metioned earlier).

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">

For web pages where the text is written in English and the construction of the HTML uses only constructs that are defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C, ref: ), the content-type meta statement shown above should be included within the <head>...</head> section on every web page and be placed after the <title>...</title> tags.

Web pages written in English can rank well when certain other ISO-defined character sets are specified.

There are other <meta> tags that you may choose to use in your documents, and discussion of those <meta> tag variations is also beyond our topic. But, for the tags discussed above, we believe that these need to be the minimum effort on your part as a website builder to make your pages have any chance at being listed and found in modern search engines.

Step 3: Submit to Paid Inclusion

When your web pages have been scrutinized and polished as described above they will be ready to enjoy the benefits of your labor. Those benefits are to get a fair evaluation from search engines, and a ranking worthy of your effort among other search results listings.

More factors than only page construction do come into play in getting favorable rankings, like navigation links within and to your website from other websites. But, from the page construction standpoint with regard to HTML construction and proper use of the <title> tag and the description and keywords <meta> tags, your pages will be in good condition to earn a favorable place in a search engine's rankings. For most paid-listing search engines and directories, your website and its pages will still have to compete for position among other paid listings. So, the steps above should be taken.

Step 3 involves making the transition from an unpaid listing to a paid listing among search results on search engines and directory sites that use paid listings. Our current belief is that the use of a paid service which causes your website to be listed on several search engines is a more efficient use of your time and budget. The banner below links to a site we have researched and found to be the most comprehensive in the business. Their rates for submitting your website to get included in the paid listings of search results seem the most reasonable among those we have researched.

For US markets, use:
48 Hour Inclusion into  MSN, iWON, HotBot, Overture, whatUseek and more

For international markets around the world use:
Global Promote - URL Submissions and Website Translations


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