SEARCH ENGINE OPT. -- Engine Misconceptions

Professional provisers of website services frequently get asked about search engines and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Many of the questions show that there are A LOT of misconceptions about search engines.  Here are a few thoughts on the subject.


Misconception 1:  Search Engines search the entire web

Google is one of the best known online search engine directories in the world. Right alongside this powerhouse portal can be found sites like Bing, Yahoo, HotBot, Lycos, Infoseek, AskJeeves and others. While these search engine sites do offer a listing of a vast array of valuable websites, they are still basically proprietary directories. What is the difference between a proprietary directory and a search engine?  Well, when users execute a keyword search using a "search engine", they are basically querying the search functions of the proprietary directory's massive database and accessing the results. This is not actually a "search" of the entire Web.

Even the largest of the online search engine directories contain listings and information pertaining to a mere fraction of the entire Internet. The largest engines reportedly have found and indexed billions of online documents, while their respective portals only allow you to search a high-end estimate of about 1 billion of those documents. Point here? You are searching information within respective databases. You are technically not able to search the entire Web.


Misconception 2:  All the Search Engines are Unbiased

You should be aware that some search engines are primarily a paid directory. The results you get from them are, in most cases, websites that have paid their way to be listed. Again, you are not searching the entire web, and most websites either cannot afford to be listed in these directories, or more commonly do not bother to pay for directories to list them. It is still possible for well crafted non-profit sites to still be listed in these more obscure directories without paying. However you should be aware that paying does not guarantee a spot in their directory. Payment only guarantees they will consider adding your site within a specified time limit.

It is of worth to note that the most populer search engine, Google, claims that payment for Google adventising services, such as "Ad Words", does not at all influence the ranking of websites in their regular directory listing. The same is probably now true of Bing and the affiliated  Yahoo which now used the Bing engine. However, given that search engines are basically propriety directories owned by busines corporations, there really is no way of knowing exactly what they are up to.


Misconception 3:  A Search Engine is a search engine

Many of the most popular searching indexes and portals are similar, but they are not alike. Each engine will come through and spider, crawl or index a website based upon its own requirements. Granted, directories such as GoTo.com and DMOZ.org do in fact supply listings to other search engines. But it is important to note that no two searches will be alike on any two engines. A number 1 rating on GoTo could be an 18th ranking on Excite or Google. You simply never know.


Misconception 4:  Ranked #1 Today, #1 Forever!

Where in the list are you? #1? Great. Now wait until next month and try again. Chances are you are no longer up at the top, right?  Rankings change periodically. If you find yourself at the top now, enjoy the fame. With thousands and thousands of documents being created and placed on websites daily, chances are the time of your stay on top may be short lived.


Misconception 5:  Guarantees From Search Engine Listing Agencies

Anyone who guarantees they can place you at the top of a search engine is either ignorant or lying to you. Search engines change, their algorithms change, and their business structures change. Yes, someone may have developed a great technique that acquires good ranking results -- but times change and so do the technologies that power search engines. So do not be surprised when things end up some way other than expected. It happens.


Misconception 6:  Search Engines See Everything

Search engines send out agents to review a website's webpages for information. But they cannot look through an entire website's contents. With the awesome amount of information available on the Web, search engines needed to establish limitations on the amount of content they can review. That is why information that is relevant to a page should be prioritized in the top of the page. If your homepage has 18K or more of CSS (cascaging style sheets) and JavaScript going on before any relevant content is listed, you are shooting yourself in the foot.  Some of the best search engine agents will only review about 40K of data per page, including images and ALL coding. So prioritize your information, and know that not all content on the page will, or can, be seen and indexed.


To summarize:

You can’t search the entire web, just the contents of a particular search engine's directory. If you don’t find what you a looking for with one search engine, try another one, the results will be different.


You cannot guarantee placements in search engines and a good placement now does not mean a good placement tomorrow.


You must carefully craft your pages to make sure they do well in the search engines.


Primary Author :  Bill Aumack

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