How to Export - Part 16 Using Search Engines to Attract Customers

Search engines are primary vehicle for web-site traffic and quantum of traffic one can expect from a search engine depends entirely on rank or position of concerned web-site in its search result. Higher the rank in search result - better is its prospect to be visited by the searcher. No wonder, every web-site owner desperately wants his/her web-site to be ranked as high as possible in search results.

However, search engines have their own algorithms for ranking web-sites in a search result. Specific algorithm of various search engines may differ, but overall purpose of all remains same - rank a web-site depending upon its relevance in the context of given search keyword or key phrase.

The key to achieve high rank in search engine lies in understanding how search engines measure relevance and use this knowledge to prepare your web-site in such a way that search engines find it relevant enough to assign a high rank in the search result. Such process of gearing up a web-site for high search engine rank, in technical jargon, is called 'Web-site Optimization' or 'Search Engine Optimization'.

Difference between Directory and Spider Based Search Engines

There is a wide difference between Directory type and Spider based search engines on how to measure rank. Directory type search engines are extremely choosy in selecting web-sites. Their database is composed of 'Categories' where only a few, highly relevant web-sites are stored for every category. Consequently, rank does not become so important as search result is short enough for a searcher to go through complete list.

For directory type search engines like Yahoo, DMoz Open Directory, Look Smart etc. - the rank is more or less pre-determined and one may not be able to do much in most cases. For example, Yahoo lists web-sites alphabetically within a category.

However, overwhelming majority of search engines are spider based, who index billions of web-pages. As a result, their search result lists thousands of web-sites which no searcher has time to go through completely. Usually, a typical searcher will look at first page of search result and at best go through a few more pages.

So, if your web-site does not figure within first 10 or at least first 30 in the search result - it may as well remain unlisted. There is a slim chance of any searcher picking 35th web-site for a visit !

The bottomline - rank in search result is critical for any web-site aspiring to attract customers from spider based search engines like Google.

Close Look at Search Engine Rank

Before going any further, let us first understand what exactly 'high rank' means in the context of spider-based search engines. Now onwards in this discussion, search engines will mean spider-based search engine only (e.g. Google, Alta Vista, Excite, MSN etc.)

It is not that search engines allot a permanent rank to every web-site in its database. The rank here means position of a particular web-site from top in a 'search result'.

When we say 'search result' - obviously, a search word or phrase comes in picture. In technical terms - such words or phrases are called Keywords or Key Phrases. Example of Keywords are 'garments', 'indian', 'jewelry' etc. and that of key phrases are 'indian garments' 'costume jewelry from india' etc.

So, if you search Google with key phrase 'indian fashion dresses' and find your web-site listed at 25th position from top in the search result - the rank of your web-site in Google for the key phrase 'indian fashion dresses' is 25

Mind you, rank of the same web-site for the same key phrase could be different in other search engines (e.g. Yahoo!, Alta Vista, MSN etc.) as search engines use their own algorithm to assess relevance.

Keywords - The core of Search Engine Rank

So, the search engine rank is always in the context of a 'given keyword or key phrase' There is no such thing as universal rank. Moreover, the rank may differ from search engine to search engine as well as within a search engine over a period of time.

So, the first thing you need to do is to select keywords for your web-site. Now, what constitutes a keyword ? Can any word be called keyword ? How to select right keywords for your web-site ?

We shall discuss all these and much more on keywords in next issue

Happy and Productive Surfing

Dr. Amit K Chatterjee

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Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 6, Issue 16 ; November 25' 2005

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at )

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