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Submit or Link


Q:  Why don't you submit sites to search engines? Everybody else does, don't they?

A:  Well, no, they don't actually. Not the experts, at any rate.

This is one of the great myths of search optimising, since if you have 100 links you certainly won't need to do any submissions to search engines. All the ones you need to worry about will know you are there.

Let's look at how search engines work. They are a distributed entity, consisting of groups of huge databases spread around different countries, and in many different locations; for logistic, redundancy and security reasons. Each datacentre can major on data specific to its local area, back up some of the central data, and perform a set of tasks for the group. If some get destroyed by natural or man-made disasters, then others have sufficient reserves for a failover response - a safety fall-back.

They send out spiders to do their research for them, and then process the information that is sent back. A 'spider' is an application that resides on a computer at the datacentre. Although it is simply a program, in the popular imagination it has a synthetic life, and is a virtual lifeform that 'crawls' the 'web' looking for info - hence the name, spider. Or 'bot' if you prefer. In practice it is very similar to a web browser, having essentially the same footprint, but with reduced capability. It resembles an older, simpler browser.

Therefore spiders see more or less what Firefox or Internet Explorer see, in a slightly simpler fashion; they can't see images for instance, and the vast majority cannot interpret Flash or JavaScript. Bots from the larger search engines can probably now read basic JS and Flash, but they don't like it for many reasons, accessibility issues and spammers being the two most important. Not a problem, it just means you avoid 3rd-party script for any critical parts of your site, like navigation.

A spider searches out resources for its master, who lists them and labels them according to complex formulas that determine their status. The resources are of course web documents, which means anything that can be delivered to a web browser such as the one you might use to view a website. The spider is sent to a website, follows the internal links for a specified time or distance, then follows an external link and goes out to another site. All the time, it sends back the details of the resources it locates.

It follows a link to another site, looks around that, then goes out via another link to another site. Give it enough time, and it would travel around and view the entire Internet. And that's how it finds your site. Of course, there are hundreds of thousands of spiders out there working away all the time. Not only that, but much of the data they record is shared, in various ways, with other resource-hungry data sites.

This means that your site will be found by anyone that needs to find it within a week - assuming you have links. If you have a new site and want to be found by tomorrow, then open an account with a major search engine; pay for inclusion in a web directory; and get a couple of pals with websites to link to yours. By tomorrow you'll be on the map.

However, a couple of days to iron out the wrinkles and make any necessary URL changes usually comes in handy, though, even when setting a dev site live (meaning pointing the DNS to a site that has been pre-built in development, and can then go live on the net).

Personally, I would be quite happy to have a day or two with the site live and no searchbots around. I make mistakes (and am happy to admit it*), and fixing them is one of the first tasks on going live. It would be nice to do that without Mr G looking over your shoulder...
* We have a saying in engineering, "The man who never made a mistake never made anything".

No links?

If you don't have any links, then by all means submit to all the search engines under the sun. It probably won't do you any good, though, because they only send traffic to sites with - wait for it - plenty of links...

Web Business Managers