Dave Masters aka webman@althits.com

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Answers to FAQs

Why can't I get my webpages registered with HotBot?
There are several reasons that might keep your page being spidered by HotBot. Your server amy have been down when the spider requested the page. If you submit your page without the "http:// prefix," it will not be indexed. If you have put a robots.txt page that has an exclusion tag on it. If your page requires a cookie, the spider will not index it. Inktomi should be able to find the DNS name, if it cannot, your page will not be indexed. If this is the case, use your IP address. Your URL may contain special characters like, %, &, ~, = or ?. If your site uses frames, this may be a problem and finally, HotBot has a 50 page limit per submission.

I've submitted my site to the Search Engines but it doesn't show up in the search results. Why?
Be certain that your site is fully prepared before you submit for search indexing. Many sites are simply rejected by the search engines because the designers have not followed important guidelines when constructing the site, or have been overzealous in 'cramming' pages with keywords in an attempt to influence the search engines. There are many tactics that result in penalty or even 'banning' of the entire site for spamming or blatant attempts at manipulation of the search engine. You must also be patient, it can take anywhere between 2 days and 5 months for your site to appear. Be prepared, be patient.

How do I acertain what the algorithms are for specific Search Engines?
All you can reasonably do is to do searches on specific SE's noting as much as you can about those Web sites that have the highest rankings by viewing their presentation and source code. Try to see consistencies to determine a programming relationship between sites that rank high on unrelated searches. Emulate programming based on your most concise hypothesis.
Although, You must note that things are not always what they seem. Businesses using highly profitable search terms, will often hire a high-tech Web programmer to utilize cloaking software. In cases such as these, the code that you see by viewing the source is NOT what the search engine sees when it spiders the site.
To further complicate things, the SE's routinely change their algorithms - so, just about the time you've figured it out, it's useless.
The best advice is to build a very good, context-heavy site, staying away from non-search-engine-friendly additives. Consider not using FRAMES, FLASH, or a ton of KEYWORDS. Don't use tricks to achieve higher ranking as the SE's are always finding ways to cut-off cheaters at the pass and may result in the exclusion of your site completely.

How do I get the spider to visit my Web site?
The first thing you need to do, is submit your main page to the Search Engine whose spider you would like to visit your site. You may have to re-submit every two weeks, until the spider launches to crawl your site.
The spider will crawl links from your main page and follow them throughout your site. Ideally, it will eventually visit all the pages of your site, although this is not necessarily the case. The spidering process can be interrupted for any variety of reasons. So helping the system along with a Crawler Page is acceptable.

What's a Crawler Page and how do I use it?
A Crawler Page is simply an HTML document that lists all the URLs (links) to every page that you desire to have indexed by a SE's spider. You may name it whatever you like with the .html extension.
Submit this page along with your main page to the SE. When the spider gets to spidering your site it will follow links it finds from you main page and will alos spider the links on your crawler page (although, not necessarily at the same time).

How do I rank better with Search Engines using popularity?
The best way, is to have a popular site. Have a lot of content that users want, so that they will keep coming back to your site.
Different SE's that use popularity weigh popularity in different ways. Some measure the overall amount of traffic to your site, some count how many other domains have links to your site. Then there are the search engines that count how many people click through their SE to your site. The more people that click-through, the more popular your site must be.
(I see the wheels turning already... you're thinking, "If I click on my pages a lot, then I'll rank higher..." Nope. That might have worked at first, but after the SE's figured out that webmasters were doing that, they actually penalized sites' popularity rating.)

If my page has a good rating in the Search Engines, should I re-submit it?
Generally, good ranking is getting so difficult to attain, these days. I'd leave well enough alone. As a matter of fact, if a SE likes the archetecture of that page so well, if I were going to add updates to it, I'd consider putting the new information on another page and link to it from there.
It's likely that when the SE revisits that particular page that it will fall in the rankings. In the meantime, let it ride.

Should I re-submit my page if it's doing poorly in the rankings?
If you have made changes in your page that you think will enhance your chances of getting a better ranking, then by all means, re-submit it. But only if it currently has a poor rating. A marginal rating, I'd leave alone, because the re-designed page may fall even lower in the rankings.
Remember, not to submit more than 5 pages in a day per search engine... that could have severe consequences.

How do I find sites to exchange links with?
First, do a search for sites that may appeal to your target audience. Often doing a search for terms that you think should bring up your site, will bring up others (who may rank better) exchanging links with high-ranking sites should be your priority.
If you are in a highly competitive field and sites similar to yours are not likely to exchange links because you'll be viewed as competition, then determine who your competition is. Note their URL. Many SE's (like AltaVista) will allow you to enter a search query like, "link:http://www.competitor.com" resulting in a list of sites that link to your competitors. These sites, then, would make a good list of contacts to submit your site to.

How long should it take for my homepage to load?
The size and total load time for your page may vary depending on content, images, format, etc... Follow the Seven Second Rule: Show someting on the screen to capture your potential audience's attention within 7 seconds.
This doesn't mean that you site has to be fully loaded in seven seconds, but there must be something on the visitor's screen to encourage them to interact with the site or compel them to wait for more. Don't tell them to "wait while site loads," or anything to that extent. Try to make it interesting.
If you don't grab your audience within seven seconds, the majority will hit the Back button.

If you have any suggestions for this area or questions about web site design, please feel free to email me at webman@althits.com

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