You can (and should) use more than one search strategy to optimize your site for search engines. You’ve seen how
keywords and PPC programs work, but there are many other ways to get your site in front of potential site visitors and customers.
This article explains the different types of search strategies you should be considering as you’re developing the SEO for your site. In addition to search engines, there are indexes and directories to keep in mind. You can also use pay-for-inclusion services, which are different from the PPC services that you’ve already explored. You should understand robots, spiders, and crawlers in order to target these different types of search strategies; and, of course, you don’t want to harm your rankings, so there’s also a chapter about SEO spam in this section. Finally, you’ll find information about social-media optimization, mobile SEO, monetizing your SEO strategy, using SEO plug-ins, and automated optimization. All of these elements come together to make your SEO strategies a richer, more effective method of drawing site visitors, and converting those visitors to paying customers.
Adding Your Site to Directories
Very often, search engines and search directories are lumped into the same category. After all, you type in a search term and click a button and the results for that search are returned to you, right? That’s right, but the data collected by directories and search engines, and the way those search results are returned, are very different. In fact,
directories and search engines differ in three fundamental ways:
■ How they collect data
■ The search results
■ How those search results are ranked
Yahoo! is one of the most well-known search directories on the Internet. It was one of the first names in search, and it remains one of the stronger players in the search market. However, there are dozens of other directories
available online, and, like search engines, these search directories can be very specialized, so that entries cover a single topic or a related group of topics. Search directories can also be implemented within an organization,
so that you can list and find all the important documentation your company owns. The advantage of these highly targeted search directories is not traffic volume of the sort you would receive from a search engine or a general
search directory; what’s important here is the quality of the traffic you receive. Specific search directories attract specific users who are searching for specific items. This means that their chances of reaching a goal conversion on your site (assuming your site is targeted correctly) are much higher than those of visitors who come from search engines.
What Are Directories?
Search directories offer a way of collecting and categorizing links to other web sites. They are not search engines and behave nothing like search engines. For example, whereas a search engine collects entries using a search crawler or a robot, search directories are populated by people. You or someone else enters your web site into a directory. In some cases, once you’ve entered it, the entry is reviewed by a real person before the site is included in directory listings.
Examples of human-edited directories include Mahalo (www.mahalo.com) and Pharos-Search (www.pharos-search.com). For both of these search directories you can submit your site to the directory, but it won’t be included until a real person reviews it and compares it to your entry to be sure it’s accurate. Only when the site has been verified will it be included in search results for the directory.
Another way your site might end up in one of these human-powered directories is for someone else to submit it. Sometimes that person is a fan of your site; sometimes it’s an employee of the directory who finds your site in some other way and thinks it is worthy of inclusion.
Categorization is likely to be more accurate with a monitored directory, because someone actually checks the site to ensure a proper listing. Sometimes fees are associated with monitored directories. The most closely monitored directories are human-edited ones. These have a very strict structure, and to get your web site included in the listings, you must accurately provide all requested information. Additionally, human-edited directories reserve the right to edit or change your entry in any manner that they believe is more suitable to the directory with which you’re
registering (and therefore more reliable for users expecting certain results). Human-edited directories may also charge a fee in order for you to be listed in them. The fees associated with these types of directories can be very steep, because a person or group of people must always be monitoring the directory.
There is also a fourth kind of directory: a hybrid directory . A hybrid directory is actually a combination of a directory and a search engine. Yahoo! and AOL both operate hybrid directories.
The more directories your site is listed in, the better you’ll perform in search results. Most search engines crawl directories, and some even use directory listings to supplement their search results. Just be aware that directories can be outdated, so make time to check your directory listing to ensure that it stays fresh. If you notice that the directory doesn’t seem to be updated regularly, you may want to remove your listing, because being included in the directory could reflect poorly on your site.