- The first thing to do after you have a new webpage up and running is to email all your friends; announce your new homepage on any email lists you subscribe to where it is relevant; announce your new homepage on any newsgroups or chatlines where you are a regular contributor. (Signing on to someplace you are a complete unknown to announce your new homepage may not get you favorable attention.)
- I have read of a newsgroup for announcing new websites, but I can't find it. If you know the address, please enter it in the Resources Guestbook.
- There are specific search engine / websites for new pages:
- Starting Point
- What's New?
For All About Search Engines, including very clear and complete instruction on META tags, try Search Engine Watch.
Enter yourself in all of the search engines you ever hear of. Somebody's using the Western Malaysian Peach-Grower's Index.
You should stick with engines relevant to your site, however.
Before You Submit
You may have seen this funny line (or a similiar one) at the beginning of some HTML files:
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2//EN">
This is required by some search engines. It tells them this is a public page, and which version of HTML it is compatible with. Some engines will not index your site properly if your pages don't have a DOCTYPE declaration as the first line.
- <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">
- <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">
- <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Frameset//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/frameset.dtd">
- <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2 Final//EN">
These also tells HTML validators where to look up the rules for this version of HTML, if they don't already know them.
In most cases, you can use <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd"> - it includes support for most of the elements you are likely to use in your HTML, from older tags like <center> to stylesheets.
My newer pages use <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> because I am stilll writing in HTML, but getting ready for the migraton to XML.
Choosing a DOCTYPE
Not all search engines use the meta-tags, and not all index the content of your page. But in general, you will show up higher in the search engines if you include meta tags in the HEAD portion of your HTML.
- Include both:
- <META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="homelessness, self-management, shelter, Seattle, Washington">
- <META NAME="description" CONTENT="A self-managed homeless shelter in Seattle Washington.">
Make the first six or eight words the most important ones you are likely to be searched for by. If your site refers to any free resources, books, job or educational programs or material, use those words -- "free", "books", "jobs" and "education" are among the most searched-for words.
Warning: putting appealing words in just to draw visitors will backfire. People who come to your site looking for information on "jobs" to find one reference to "I've had some funky jobs" in your personal bio are not likely to tell all their friends to bookmark your page.
Then add some secondary words: storage, community, activism. Use as many meaningfully related words as you can dream up; ask your friends for ideas. This is your chance to build your vocabulary. You want at least 20 good, valid words here.
Now keep going. Use variations, like "activist" as well as "activism", common mispellings: but try not to repeat whole words. Anti-spam filters in the search engines will reject your entry if any word is repeated three times or more. Most search engines ignore capitalization, and are "smart" enough to select "writers" when someone requests "writer" (& vice versa). You want to end up with fifty search words, total, without repeating any word more than twice.
Some search engines will only index your first six words; others will index 20; some will read all 50. By having the maximum in there, but arranging them with the most important ones first, you have all the bases covered.
This is the most important element that search engines use in indexing and finding your page.
- Use your most important keywords in your title.
"Trainspotting in East Indiana"
"Science Fiction and Fantasy Bestseller Book Reviews"
"Free Webpage Help and Graphics: Background Theme Sets"
- Use a different, specific title for each page
- Refer to the content of your page, not the fact that it's a webpage
- Remember that your title will show up in a list of hundreds of other titles
- Assume that your visitor came from a previous page, or knows who you are:
- Use ALL CAPS. Too many people have been assaulted by too many ALL CAPS messages. You will be avoided in droves.
- Don't try to make your title bold or italic or use special fonts. Formatting tags won't work, and your title will look like
- <font face="Textile"><b>Bestseller</b></font> Book Reviews
- which probably won't get the attention you intended.
The contents of your first page, at least the first few paragraphs, should include the same major keywords that you put in your meta tags and title. Don't just start right out with your site map. Start out with a meaningful introduction that lets your visitors know what the content of your site really is -- it will also make your site easier to find, on search engines that index the content of this first page.
You can also help make your indexing more accurate by using descriptive words in your navigation links: don't use "Page 1", "Page 2" for instance; use "Love Poems," "Poems of Sorrow," etc. If you have a very big category, like "Graphics," you might want to include a description under the link, like "Free webpage images, home movies in Realtime, and links to download graphics software."
Even the names of your files can be important in helping people find you. The first page of your site (or of each directory in your site) must be "index.html" - this is the default page that a browser will look for. (Alternates the browser will look for include "default.html"or "home.html") The other pages, however, should have meaningful names -- not page1.html but family.html or vacation1999.html or ihatehtml.html.
There are other elements that both make your page more accessible and easier to find. All of your images should have "alt" tags: these provide text that can be read if the image fails to show up for any reason. Example from this page:
<img src="../images/control.gif" width="60" height="60" align="right" border="0" alt="[Web Logo]" title="Control of the Web">
The "title" attribute is helpful too. It only works for viewers with IE browsers, at present, but it provides more information about the image when the mouse cursor hovers over it.
Both of these attributes help your visitors, but they also help you: they provide more content that search engines can use to index you. Use meaningful words in these tags that indicate the content of your page and that visitors are likely to be searching for.
I just had to say that.
Submitting isn't easy for all of us. There are services that make it easier. They submit your site to the major ones like Altavista, Lycos, Infoseek, Webcrawler, Excite, Yahoo, and a lot of specialized ones like business directories and art malls, and Somebody Else's Uncle's Free Links Page -- but it is all exposure.
Some of the submissions won't go through because the server is busy, or other reasons.
You can go to other submission services as a second step, or go directly to manual.
- The very best -- with a lot of good advice, too.
- Submits to 16 sites for free, and does it the best.
Sites that ask for reciprocal links:
Check It Out
It will take anywhere from moments to weeks for your site to begin to show up in the various search engines. Be patient -- but keep checking. Search various engines every few days on your favorite keywords. See if you show up at all. Check on whether you actually are registered at the site, if the site lets you do that.
Check on how high you rank in the searches. If you come in #200 on a search for "gerbil feeding", and you have the most exhaustive site on gerbil feeding on the Web, go back and tweak your meta tags and the content of your page.
Yes, even if you have a personal home page on the adventures of your pet gerbil, you can advertise it. There are non-profits, poetry collections, and personal homepages in the LinkExchange banner network, and there are other banner networks if you don't want to look that commercial. A banner network may be a good way to increase traffic. (I have found reciprocal links to be more helpful, though.)
There are many places where you can get small, limited-time free webpages, and many people use these to put up a page that simply advertises their main site and points back to it -- and then submit those pages to the search engines, also.
<confession on> I too have done this. </confession off>
Please be cautious about doing this.
- You tie up space on the free webservers.
- You can seriously annoy people.
- Search engines are getting annoyed at this and beginning to drop anyone they catch doing it, completely out of their listings.
- Searchers who spot this kind of thing may just avoid you -- or come by only to drop off flames.
It is much more effective to design your site with specific content on each separate page and then use specific description and keyword meta-tags for each page.
Your own email signature is an advertising billboard. Put your site address and a descriptive short phrase about it in your signature file.
This also comes with a caution -- long signature files are annoying and probably won't get read.
Put Out Bait
Well, that's what it is. Freebies. Giveaways. Services.
Offer a free service or resource that is related to your main subject: a searchable index of the cutest gerbil pictures on the Web; a veterinarian dictionary; a web-forum for asking gerbil-related questions.
Put in meta-tags and get that page indexed in the search engines.
Make sure it has clear links back to your main page.
Create a links page. Put all your friends on it, and any sites that have useful resources relative to your interests. Ask them first -- and ask if they can link back to you.
If you have special-interest information on your site, seek out other sites that cover that area -- they will probably be happy to put you on their links page.
There are a growing number of free-for-all link pages -- anyone can post a link there. They seem pretty useless to me, but many promoters push them.
Reciprocal links are so helpful that new free services are springing up to help you manage them. I personally use Links4Trade, and pay them a little above the free service so that not only can I add more link partners, but they validate the links on my links page (including those I added independently) regularly. Links4Trade : Trade me a link
Webrings are another way to link up with other sites -- and it's easier than link exchanges or banner networks. Check it out at the webring home page or at James Huggins' Refrigerator Door, one of the best existing fact sheets on webrings.
While there was once only one major WebRing service, after Yahoo! acquired Webring several more sprang up to service ring owners unhappy with Yahoo. In addition to Yahoo! WebRing, there is also RingSurf at http://www.ringsurf.com, Bravenet at http://www.bravenet.com, CrickRock at http://www.crickrock.com, among others. You can even download webring software at RingLink and manage a webring on your own server.
Now that Webring is once more independent of Yahoo, I prefer their service above all others, because it is easiest to manage if you have, or are a member of, more than one ring. I also like RingSurf, which has great quality rings and a very good directory of them. I do not use the other services because they lack ring directories and ring search capability: two useful tools for being found, as well as for finding others.
The best way to get an immediate jump in traffic is to join an established webring. If there is no webring for Gerbil Trainers, however, and you are willing to go to the effort of starting one, you will also want to promote your webring.
Their are still changes going on at Webring. After a 13 month experiment, Yahoo sold Webring to one of the original developers, and it is once more independent. Many services have been upgraded: for one thing, you actually get answers to help messages! James Huggins' site is my best current reference for webring advice.
Most of the methods listed for promoting your webpage also hold for promoting your webring.
Create a separate homepage for your webring. Make it as helpful and informative as possible: describe clearly the qualifications for joining the ring, the procedure for adding ring code to a member page (you are going to forget real fast how new this all was to you, and take steps for granted, so have a friend who never heard of webrings read it over for you), and some helpful things for existing members, like a site edit form, maybe a mailing list. You can create your own mailing list at Yahoo Groups.
Put in meta tags; include content that uses the same search words as the meta tags. Learn more at Search Engine Watch.
Register it with the search engines, link pages, and banner networks.
Announce your new ring on all relevant mailing lists and newsgroups.
If there are mailing lists and newsgroups on your subject that you are not a member of, join. Introduce yourself and contribute to the list discussions -- don't just promote and run. You will be more likely to make friends -- and new ring members.
Search the web for related sites, and invite them to join your ring.
Be sure to stress the advantages to them from joining you -- as well as complimenting what they are doing.
Top of Page, with Index
Showing awards on your site tends to impress visitors and make them decide to look around. Announcing that you've gotten an award can encourage people to come visit, or sway them to linking up or joining your ring. And the award site also posts a link to you.
Are you ready to apply for an award? Check the top 10 reasons why websites don't get awards.
You have to register for awards -- or get your friends to register you -- it's far too big a Web for the reviewers to come looking for you.
Two sites that make it easiest to apply for awards are Market-Tek and Award-It.
It's tempting to apply for every award offered, by anyone. But posting an award means posting a link to the site it came from. Some questions to ask yourself before applying for or accepting an award:
- Is this a site you want people to associate with yours? Does it have the same or higher design standards and content quality? Is its philosophy compatible with yours, or are you inadvertently promoting slash mining on your "Save the Trout" page?
- Do they have clear criteria for who wins their award? If they give it to anyone who asks, is it worth having?
- Do they post links to everyone who wins the award? Why add their award and link to your page if they aren't going to add your logo and link to theirs?
- If they have a list of award-winners, with links, check out some of them. Would you give an award to the same sites? Are you proud to be in their company?
Offering an award is another way to draw people to your site, and to get more links to you. To make your award program attractive though, you will need to send some time on it.
- Is your site well-developed enough that other site-owners will be pleased to be associated with you?
- Do you have clear criteria for who will win your award? Are you able and willing to stick to those standards? Are you going to get stomach-aches if people flame you or cry about not getting your award?
- Are you willing to put out the effort to maintain a page of award-winners, posting a link to whoever posts your award?
- Do you have an attractively designed award? It shouldn't be over 150 pixels wide and 300 pixels high, nor take more than 10K of storage space.
Any More Ideas?
Be sure to add your comments in the Resources Guestbook.
return to Web Help Index return to Effective Activism Home Page
Updated November 29, 2002