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Search Engines FAQ

Search Engines



Internet Search Engines and Why They Matter

Q: What's an Internet search engine?

A: An Internet search engine is a tool that web surfers use to search the Internet. Think of it as a Yellow Pages for Internet web sites, but much more advanced. People type in words or phrases for which they wish to search, and the search engine returns a list of web sites that match that word or phrase. For example, a search for "online bookstore" might return web sites like Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble's Web site. A search engine is a critical tool in finding information, products and businesses on the web.

Q: How do I get to a search engine?

A: Each search engine has its own web site that you can visit in order to perform searches. Search engines are also built into AOL and into web browsers like Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Q: What's the difference between a Search Engine and a Web Directory?

A: A search engine searches all the sites on the web (or all the sites that it knows about on the web, to be more precise). A directory only includes sites that have been reviewed and accepted by a person. Search engines generally will find more sites than directories, because search engines automatically add more and more sites to their databases as they find them. But directories generally have higher quality listings because these sites have been screened and reviewed by a human being. Some search engines, like Google and Yahoo combine a directory with a search engine for comprehensive search results.

Q: What are the most commonly used search engines?

A: There are a handful of search engines and directories that account for the lion's share of searches performed on the web today. Here are a few of the most popular ones (in no particular order):

  • Alta Vista - http://www.altavista.com
  • Netscape Search - http://home.netscape.com
  • Google - http://www.google.com
  • Lycos - http://www.lycos.com
  • Yahoo - http://www.yahoo.com
  • Hotbot - http://www.hotbot.com
  • AOL Search - http://www.aol.com or http://search.aol.com
  • Fast/AllTheWeb - http://www.alltheweb.com
  • Microsoft Network Search - http://www.msn.com 
  • Looksmart - http://www.looksmart.com
  • Open Directory - http://www.dmoz.org 
  • Teoma (formerly Direct Hit) - http://www.teoma.com
  • iWon.com - http://www.iWon.com 
  • Best of the Web - http://botw.org (directory)
  • Q: How do I get my site listed in the search engines?

    A: If there are multiple links from other web sites to your site, then your site may already be listed in some or all of the search engines. Many search engines send out 'spiders' or 'bots' that endlessly follow links from web site to web site seeking out new pages to add to their index databases.  If your site is not yet listed in a specific search engine, then you can generally find an "Add URL" feature on the search engine's home page that allows you to request that your web site be added to the search engine (see our "SEO tips and tools" page for a list of search engine submission pages).

    Q: If I add my web site to a search engine, will I get more visitors to the site?

    A: Possibly, but not necessarily. There are literally millions of sites on the World Wide Web, and several billion web pages! Search engines attempt to index as many sites as possible, but generally only cover a small percentage of what's out there. Even so, a search for "books for sale" on Google returns over 3 million pages that match this search phrase. When a user performs a search, he or she will generally only look at the first 3 or 4 pages of web sites that are returned (usually the first 20 to 40 web sites). If your Web site does not show up in the first 4 pages for a particular search word or phrase, then you might as well be invisible.

    Q: Do high rankings in web site search engines make a difference?

    A: Yes! If your web site is more visible in the search engines, then more people will find it. People who search for specific businesses or products on the web are rarely 'just browsing.' Users generally turn to the search engines when they have an immediate need. If your site turns up in a search, then you will get the call, or the e-mail, or the order and you will get more business. One of our clients noticed that their web traffic increased a factor of 300% once our newly designed search pages were added to their site and indexed in the search engines. These results will vary for different search words and phrases, but we guarantee that you will get more visits to your site if you hire us us as your search engine optimization consultants.

    For more details on how you can get your web site higher in the search engines, please fill out our Contact Request form.

    If you'd like to try to do your own search engine optimization and site submission then read on in our Search Engine Optimization Software, Tips and Tools page.

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