How do they notice your page?
How do I get my site added?
What is a search engine? What is a search directory?
Search engines are used for people to find web-sites or information relevant to the subject/s they are looking for. Typically, the user will enter one or more words into a search box. The search engine then returns its results, which are the addresses and descriptions of web-sites either containing the words, or relevant to them. The search engine then creates links so that the user can click on them and view the pages.
A search engine works by using programs called bots or spiders, which actively seek out websites by 'reading' pages, its meta tags, and following its links to other pages. The pages it 'spiders' are then indexed (added to its list of sites). An example of a search engine is Google
A search directory works in a different way. Instead of using spiders to find pages, users submit their site for indexing. Then, a member of a team will view the page, index it and categorize it. A directory can still be searched in the same way as a search engine can, but a user can also 'browse' it via the many categories and subcategories. An example of a directory is Yahoo.
How do they notice your pages?
Search engines read several sections of your documents to assess the relevance and quality of your site. Different search engines work in different ways, but usually it will be a combination of -
How do I get my site added?
Normally a site gets added, or indexed in two ways. Firstly it may well be picked up by a search engine's spiders, especially if your site is frequently linked to by other sites. This is usually a matter of luck, although it helps if your meta information is good and relevant.
Secondly, you can submit your site to a search engine or directory. All search sites vary slightly in how they like you to go about this. Normally there will be a link somewhere on the site labelled something like 'submit your site', or 'add your site', or 'add an URL' or something similar.
Once clicked on you will then have to fill out a simple form, including the URL of your site and (often) your e-mail address. In the case of search directories, you will have to specify which category you wish to be included in.
Then, providing your site gets indexed, it's a matter of time before it 'shows up' in searches. This can vary between 1-2 weeks (Altavista) and 2 months (Yahoo). Yahoo will tend to take longer to deal with your submission as it's a team of people dealing with all the submissions, rather than a computer program.
Some sites now allow you quicker, guaranteed indexing if you are prepared to pay for the privelege. This is often frowned upon, as the principle of search engines has always been to be free, but if you're prepared to pay the money there's little doubt that it will help you show up quicker and more often in searches.
You can find more information about different search engines and directories at Search Engine Watch.
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