What is the name of that little icon that appears in my bookmarks?
This little icon is well appreciated among users because it visually differenciates web sites in bookmarks and between page tabs (with mozilla, Firefox and opera users). It has the technical name of favicon and is a little 16*16 pixels image saved in the ICO format (some browsers can handle other formats such as PNG but at this time, only ICO is supported by Microsoft). Upon request, I can deliver this image that should be, usually, the company logo, or at least a familliar symbol that can identify the site. I consider it the cherry on top of the sunday once the site is completed.
What are the most popular search engines?
According to this study by OneStat.com, the 7 most popular search engines are the following ones, with their market share on the right:
1. Google 54.7%
2. Yahoo 22.1%
3. MSN Search 9.5%
4. AOL Search 3.7%
5. Terra Lycos 2.8%
6. Altavista 2.5%
7. Askjeeves 1.5%
It is imperative to have a strong presence in Google, Yahoo and MSN. The other ones are negligeable.
Note: AOL uses Google for its results, and AltaVista uses Yahoo!, we should therefore add their market share in the 3 first engines.
What is the difference between directories and indexes in the world of search engines?
The important search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN have two method to aggregate information for their users.
The first method is a gigantic database containing an index of the world wide web. It is constantly evolving, growing and updated through what is called "crawlers". This software browse the web daily et records everything in the database. To inform this crawler of your web site, you have to submit your site to a page specific for that task, or be linked from another web site that is already included. The crawler browses the web using links between pages and sites that are already recorded.
The second method is a directory that is maintained by editors, real persons that specializes in certain topics and decide which web sites deserve to be added. Those editors cant be employees, as is the case with Yahoo!, who made a name for itself in the early days of the web with its directory, or volunteers, as is the case with Google and MSN. It is a lot more difficult to get picked for those directories, but if you succeed, it can be worth it in term of traffic and value search engines will give to your web site for its results. To submit your site, you have to use specific pages for that purpose, or be submitted naturally by someone else if your site is of general interest and well done. For commercial sites, such as e-commerce sites or company sites, you now have to pay (up to $300 with Yahoo!), in most cases, to be included. It can be worth it, or not.
The first and most important step is to submit your site to the major search engines and their directories (if applicable). You'll have to wait a few weeks, if not months, to be accepted from those directories, and not all sites are necessarely accepted, so it's good to do it soon and then forget about it. If your registration is really important, you may consider paying for it.
Secondly, you need to indicate your existence among the secondary and local directories that may be relevant to your site. For example, if your site tragets users from Qu?ec, you should submit it to the Toile du Québec.
If you know other web site owners and they have a favorite links sections, ask them to exchange one with your site. If you don't know anyone, you may explore other relevant and complementary web sites in directories and ask them politely, using their suggested method of contact, to exchange links with you.
If the previous steps do not bring the needed traffic, you may also promote your site through advertising programs in search engines like Overture (feeding Yahoo! and MSN) or Google Adwords. Those programs will show your ad when certain relevant keywords that you picked are triggered as users enter them in their search requests and you will appear next to the results. Those programs are usually pay per click, meaning you pay when someone click on the ad and go to your site.
You can also employ my search engine optimisation services for a study on the popular keywords, yet attainable in terms of competition, to use on your site that are relevant to your topic, in order to reach a good position in search engine results, and to submit your site to the major search engines.