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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

Please excuse my ignorance with this subject, but I've had my web site up for a few weeks now and I'm still confused about search engine submissions. This is my first attempt at building a site, so I'm learning as I go. It was only after I published the site did I hear of submitting to search engines so I paid $50.00 for a submission service, but that seems to have been fruitless. I have heard that one can be penalized for certain content, but how would I know if such content exists with my site? I have read about Meta tags and followed suggestions, but my site still doesn't show up in any of the search engines I've checked.

My web site is http://www.newdayphoto.com/

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Mike

Answer from our Guest Expert Expert Christian Nielsen of Nielsen Technical Services

Hi Mike,

First, congratulations on the new site! I was quite impressed by the service you are offering and the examples on the site are enough by themselves to "sell" any visitors to the site. But the problem is how to get visitors.

Watch Out for Site Submission Companies

First, I'd contact the company you paid to submit the site and get your money back. There are many, many companies that charge from $30-$200, and mostly, they use a submission program to submit your site to search engines.

Professionals in my line of work scoff at these services, but the truth is, they can be fairly effective if they do a good job. However, if they do a bad job, they may have gotten a reputation for "spamming" in which case anything they submit goes into the cyber-trash bin. At first, I thought this might be the case with your site, but the problem is much worse from what I can tell. I used the free service at www.marketleap.com which checks for search engine visibility on 12 of the larger systems. I used your domain, "newdayphoto" because if you are listed, you should show up. If you just use a more generic keyword phrase like "photo restoration", you may or may not show up for just that phrase.

Anyway, your site did not show up on any of the 12 systems, including Google. Unless you launched your site a few days ago, this is very unusual. Take into consideration that the site was to have been promoted by a company offering such services and it's mind-boggling. So I would conclude one of the following:

  • The site was never submitted.
  • The site was submitted incorrectly, or by a company that everyone ignores.
  • It's possible that the problem lies with your ISP, and sites hosted there are ignored.

What bothers me is even if some or all of these were true, the site should be listed somewhere!

How "Virtual Servers" Can Affect Your Site Submissions

Your site is currently hosted on what is called a "virtual server". This means your site is hosted on the same server as other sites, and you also "share" an IP address with the other sites. When someone wants to visit www.newdayphoto.com and types in that URL, the server looks up what the numeric address is for the name. You are then taken to the numeric address of the server and you visit the site. On a shared server, it looks at the NAME that was requested and then directs you to the correct web site. Once the Internet got popular, the numbering system was found to not have the capacity to allow all the computers in the world their own unique number, so a "sharing" system was created.

I have noticed that Google in particular seems to go through the numbering system and this allows it to find sites that have not been submitted. In the case of your site, it lives at the address of 216.239.129.146, which is registered to www.omnis.com. If Omnis should happen to have an email spammer or adult site at that IP address, it could be that the IP ADDRESS has been banned, or labeled as a "bad neighborhood".

What Every Site Owner Should Consider Regarding Site Submissions

Now, aside from these other possible problems, here is what all new site owners should consider for their site -- no matter if they hire a professional or do it themselves.

1) Create a list of keywords and phrases for your site.

Go to www.Goodkeywords.com and download their free keyword research tool. Lookup the variations for each keyword and put the results into a spreadsheet or database. Each phrase will have a "score" this is the number of times that the phrase was used in a search by someone.

Warning: Most keyword searches will also return some very adult (or adolescent) results which can and should be deleted. Each search can return up to 100 variations. Here is a sample for "photo restoration" key words:

  • restoration photo -- 5472
  • photo restoration seminar -- 980
  • software photo restoration -- 187
  • dbrian photo restoration -- 179
  • digital photo restoration -- 125
  • photo restoration restore -- 54
  • photo restoration services -- 47
  • bindery photo restoration -- 44
  • old photo restoration -- 43
  • genealogy photo restoration -- 39
  • photo shop restoration -- 33
  • photo restoration tutorial -- 30
  • free photo restoration -- 28
  • business photo restoration starting -- 27
  • photo program restoration -- 26

I deleted the ones that were really bad right away. Choose a mix of phrases that have high scores and relate exactly to your site. Try to use less of any phrases that relate to your site -- less than 60% on a 100% scale. If you have "restore photos" you don't have to use "photos" by itself again.

2) Take this list of gems and add them to the copy on the site.

Don't go nuts because it will hurt and not help. Just take the word "photo" and change it to "restoration photo" AS LONG AS THE MEANING REMAINS THE SAME AND IT DOES NOT BECOME AWKWARD. Edit your page titles and description tags to describe what is on the page and include 1 to 3 keyword phrases. Try to combine phrases like digital photo restoration,125 and photo restoration services,47 to make digital photo restoration services. Now you have two in the space of one. And space is a consideration. Titles should be 60-75 characters and descriptions 255 characters.

3) Now that the site is optimized, you can submit it.

The best option is to submit it by hand by going to each system, finding the submission page, reading the instructions, and entering the information. If you create a file in NotePad with the information, you can copy and paste it into each form and it will save you some time. The other option is to use a cheap submission service if you can find a good one. If they treat you right and offer some examples of their work, they should be OK. Our company submits the home page by hand to 120 systems and then submits all of the other pages with a submission program for about $240. There are also sites where you can submit for free and they make the process quite a bit easier. One of the best is www.selfpromotion.com and they provide a wealth of information beyond what I have offered here.

4) Take a look at traffic reports.

Well, it's optional, but if you really want to know what's happening on your site, take a look at the web traffic reports your ISP should be providing as part of your hosting package. These reports show you information about your visitors, what they are doing, and where they came from. If you have no sales, but you are getting traffic, then you need to figure out why and make some changes.

Thank you,
Christian Nielsen
Nielsen Technical Services
Minneapolis MN

Search Engine Optimization and Internet Consulting
"Be what they're searching for!"

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