How do I get my domain listed in search engines?

Search engines change their page ranking and relevancy formulas frequently to keep sites from artificially boosting their rankings above where they would normally be based on their content. The trick that works to boost your ranking today may actually hurt your ranking in the future based on changes that are made.

One example of this is the keywords meta tag. Some web sites stuffed popular keywords into their keywords meta tag to boost their rankings, even though the site contents had nothing to do with the keywords entered. Search engines did rank such sites higher for a period of time. However, search engines gain users by providing quality results when visitors enter search terms, and thus search engines use all means possible to identify, track, and prevent sites from manipulating search results. Today most major search engines no longer use the keywords field, since it is prone to abuse. (See "Death of a Meta Tag.")

With constantly changing methods of ranking, we cannot provide you with a set of steps to ensure that your site will appear in the first page of search results. We can however provide a series of guidelines that, in general, search engine experts agree should help to boost your rankings:

  • Build a quality site: This may seem obvious, but a site that looks professional and offers a good experience for visitors will get more traffic, more referrals, and, in the end, higher rankings. Don't submit a work in progress or publish your site before it is truly ready to be seen.
  • Get big: Sites with more than 100 pages will attract more attention from search engines looking for sites with quality content. A hundred pages is not a magic number that you have to hit, but you should build unique pages for each product or article on your site.
  • Say something: Sites with frequently updated and new content rank higher in search engines typically. If, for example, your store sells aromatherapy bath soaps and candles, you could have an article about the benefits of various scents and the influence they have on well-being and attitude. You could also publish testimonials from your customers on the use of your products as you receive them. As such, your site will become a destination for readers who may then become buyers.
  • Use keywords not only as a tag: Choose noncompetitive keywords and include them in your page titles, descriptions, headings, and content. Search engines like when your keywords appear more than once on a page, but if they appear too many times, you could be penalized for trying to spam the search rankings. Try adding page titles to each of your pages.
  • Exchange links: Include links to sites similar (but not necessarily competitive) to your own. Send an email asking for a link exchange. Some sites may say yes, some may say no, but the more you get (as long as they are quality sites), the better off you will be.
  • Get involved and get your name out there: Read and participate in popular forums that match your site's focus or interests. Many will let you include links to a web site in your forum signature. When the forum gets crawled by search engines, your link should get picked up as well. Don't put your link in postings on noncommercial message boards, however, if this is against the policy of the owner. You could do more harm than good. However, if you have a wealth of knowledge to share, you can become a leader that others will look to for answers and possibly referrals for products or services.

To learn more about submitting your store to search engines, we recommend Search Engine Watch, an unbiased, up-to-date resource for search engine news, submission tips, and strategies.

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