Search engines have two basic styles – portal and search box focused. In either search style, results depend on inclusion within the engine’s extensive database, some using human editing and others fully automated, some requiring paid inclusion and others free. Search results listings are called SERP’s or search engine result pages.
Search engine marketing is tiered, meaning one may promote a website on the search engines at various levels of visibility. Each level offers a distinctly different service than the next. At the most basic level of marketing is search engine listing, which lets you simply register in any given search database. The next level is called search engine optimization, or improving a website’s ability to gain top rankings in SERP’s.
To rank relevantly within search engine results, websites must be considered relevant for a particular search algorithm for that particular keyword or phrase. Currently, websites rank highest when each page is optimized separately.
The Key Players
There are countless search engines driving traffic to business websites. Most are small, targeted and growing, while others have large, broad and loyal audiences.
Just five search engines control the majority of queries on the Internet including Yahoo, Google, Ask Jeeves and AllTheWeb. Other search sites compile the results from multiple engines into all-encompassing SERP’s, such as Dogpile. The Open Directory Project or DMOZ, is a non-commercial directory focused on human-editing and free inclusion.
Google, named for the term which represents the number 1 followed by 100 zeros, was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two men who met at Stanford University graduate school studying computer science in 1995. Together they collaborated on a search engine called BackRub. After much investment seeking and technological experimentation, Google.com opened in a garage in September 1998 in Menlo Park, California. Google handled more than 100 million search queries a day by the end of 2000.
In February 2002, Google launched Ad Words, a self-serve cost per click advertising model. In December 2002, Google launched Froogle, a free product search service. 2004 brings Local Search and GMail, as well as a public offering under the ticker GOOG.
Touted the “life engine” in their latest ad campaign, Yahoo actually began as a simple project by two men, David Filo and Jerry Yang, in January 1995. During their studies at Stanford University, Yahoo was their way to catalog and organize Internet bookmarks. Soon the project grew, as the Internet grew, gathering interest from visitors who added Yahoo to their own bookmarks and revisited often to find new additions.
Today Yahoo is the top ranked, highly trafficked website on the Internet. Word of mouth grew into what is now a publicly traded company. Yahoo listing is as important as that in the phone book.
Before submitting to human-edited directories, prepare a business description no more than 25 words in length using two to three key terms that may be used to find the website. This description should exclude marketing language and superlatives.
Ask Jeeves Inc. (now ask.com) was founded in 1996 and is now a publicly traded company with headquarters in California. Its syndicates search technology and advertising units to a affiliate partner network including Excite, Ask.com, Teoma, Ask Jeeves Kids, MyWebSearch, MySearch, MyWay, MaxOnline and iwon.
A butler inspired by the books by English writer P.G. Wodehouse characterizes the Ask Jeeves brand. The website began as a question and answer service – the user asks a question and an answer is generated. With an editorial staff building each question and answer scenario, the answers often didn’t add up to the searcher’s actual intent. After the dot com crash, stock dropped to under $1, yet today performs in the $30 range due to heavy restructuring, cuts and a quality search focus.
Ask Jeeves began as a human-edited listing but has since abandoned this for algorithmic search results. Smart Search allows users to search keywords such as celebrity names and receive an instant biography and photograph above results. Binocular icons next to certain results allow quick web page previews.
Dogpile was developed in 1996 using innovative metasearch technology to find results in many leading search engines including Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, About, FindWhat, LookSmart and more. All results are combined into one comprehensive SERP. Dogpile is currently owned and operated by InfoSpace, Inc. They brand the business on Arfie, their signature dog logo.
Dogpile, like other search engines, allows data (or keyword), image, audio, multimedia, news and shopping searches.
Though a metasearch engine pulling information from all other major search sources, website owners may also submit to the DogPile database directly. This listing includes DogPile, Verizon, WebCrawler, NBC and MetaCrawler.
Open Directory Project (DMOZ)
The Open Directory Project is an Internet resource hierarchically arranged by subject – from broad to specific. The ODP is maintained by editors that evaluate websites for inclusion in the directory. All submissions are subject to editor evaluation.
ODP does not consider itself a search engine and, in that light, is highly selective. Not all sites are accepted. The goal is to make all information provided by the database as useful as possible, not to simply include all sites on the Internet or serve as a promotional tool for businesses.
To assist editorial discretion, ODP has policies for submitting sites for our consideration. They may reject, delete or edit submissions that violate these policies or that they do not want included. The ODP also rejects, deletes or blocks sites possibly associated with a user violating their policies.
Their policies and submission steps are as follows:
1. Determine whether a site is appropriate for submission to the ODP:
2. Do a quick search in the directory at dmoz.org (the home of the Open Directory) to be sure the site isn’t already listed. This saves everyone time.
3. Identify the single best category for the site. The Open Directory has an enormous array of subjects to choose from. Submit a site to the single most relevant category. Sites submitted to inappropriate or unrelated categories may be rejected or removed.
4. Once we select the best category for the site, go directly to that category on dmoz.org and then click “suggest URL.” Follow the instructions on the submission form carefully. Descriptions of sites should describe the content of the site concisely and accurately.