Friday, July 12, 2013

Which search engines to target?

In the last unit, we suggested that the vast majority of Internet users use search engines to locate products or services. This free system of listings is a more popular method of locating sites than paid-for advertising such as PPC and is thus a better way of improving the visibility of your website. But which search engines do you want to be found by and which search engines should you target? Although the majority of Internet users rely on search engines to find what they are looking for, they do not all use the same search engines. There are, in fact, numerous search engines out there, all vying for a share in the lucrative search engine market. Here are just a few of the search engines that we use when
looking for something on the Internet: As you can see, then, there are numerous companies we can turn to when searching the Internet. Note, however, that not all of these search engines use truly distinct search technology. AOL, for example, bases part of its search results on Google. Teoma uses Ask Jeeves technology. Dogpile is a metacrawler, which means that it searches all the major search engines for you and compiles results from places like Google, Yahoo, and Ask Jeeves. This may seem like a bewildering array of search options and a formidable amount of search engines to optimize your site for. However, we only have to concentrate on the largest players in the search engine market as they have the most people using their search technology, and because they also act as search providers, leasing out their search technology to other search engines. Let‟s look at who the leading players are in the search engine market. The following chart, compiled from data provided by Hit wise shows the search engine market share for December 2009, November 2010 and December 2011. As we can see, Google, Yahoo, and Bing are the big players in the search engine market, accounting for just over 90% of the total market. This means that more people use their search technology to search for products or services on the web than any other search engine. For this reason, these are the search engines you should primarily focus on when analyzing optimizing your siteThere are some important things to note about these search engines.

1. each use different systems to rank pages
2. because different systems are used, a high ranking for a specific keywords in one search engine
does not automatically mean that your page will rank highly for the same keywords in another search engine
3. nevertheless, each use similar principles to determine the relevancy and importance of web pages in relation to search queriesAnatomy of a search In the last unit of the course we began to show you how search engines work. For the sake of simplicity, we can consider the search process to work something like the following:
1. Search Engine Spiders the web
2. Search engine caches pages that its spiders on its servers
3. User enters a search query
4. Search engine checks the search query against its index
5. Search engine returns what it believes to be the most relevant results for that query
Although the process is actually more complex than this, the above diagram is useful in helping us to visualize how searches work, more so in reminding us that when we enter a search term, the search engine does not actually rush off and check every page on the web. This would take far too long. Instead it checks your search term against an index that is stored on its servers. Spiders working their way around the web constantly update this index. Note: because pages are indexed in advance of searches, the results returned might be out of date. When you click on the link for one of the results, for example, you may find that the page has been updated since the search engine last spider it, or even that the page you want has moved. If I carry out a search for cheap web-hosting, the search engine checks its index to see which pages carry the terms „cheap‟, „web‟ and „hosting‟. It then returns a results page containing what it believes are the most relevant pages for these particular keywords. Let‟s look at a typical search result page. This page shows the results for the above search in Google. The results page is set out as follows:
1. Search box with our search query.
2. The number of results Google returned for our search query plus the time the search.
3. Sponsored links. This is paid-for advertising. For this results page, Google has selected
adverts that are relevant to our search query.Search results. This section shows the pages that Google thinks are most relevant to our particular search terms. These listings are free.
4. Link/Page title. The text is the exact text that appears between the title tags (<title></title>) on the page that the search result links to. Notice how keywords from our search query have been highlighted. Page description. This text is commonly the actual text that appears in the Meta description of the page that the search result links to. This is the text between the quotation marks in the HTML tag <META NAME="description" content="YOUR TEXT HERE">. Again, Google has matched this text with our search query.Domain. This is the address of the page linked to. Cached page link. Unlike the above link, which links to the domain that the page is on, this link takes us to the cached version of the page that Google has stored on its server. More results. Links to further pages of results We will now look at some of the ways in which search engines rank pages when determining search.

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