Don't leave your Web site to the mercy of the search engines. In this months Understanding The Internet.

Once your Web site is up and running, your problems don't stop, your site has to be found. Traffic is the big word for success on the Web. Marketing Web sites has moved into another realm of e-commerce. More search engines on the Web only makes marketing of your site more obvious. Not all people use the same search engines.

To make matters worse, search engines don't all rank Web pages the same way. In fact they are all quite different. Here are a few examples:

Using good Meta tags in your pages will normally give your ranking a boost on HotBot and Infoseek, but not on the other search engines. AltaVista, Infoseek, and Lycos will index image "alt" tags, which can affect the way your page is ranked, but other search engines don't. AltaVista and Infoseek are case-sensitive, Excite, Lycos and Webcrawler are not, and HotBot is somewhere in-between.

Most search engines use "ignored words," common words ignored in searches -- but Infoseek doesn't. Infoseek and Lycos use "stemming" which means a search for "drill" might also turn up "driller."

Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, and Web Crawler will give your ranking a boost if lots of other sites are linked to yours. Meta refresh tags and invisible text will result in a penalty on AltaVista, but Excite doesn't seem to care. The rest have mixed feelings.

Each search engine places a different priority on each criteria used to rank Web pages, and they change their procedures often. And that's just the beginning. After all of your hard work trying to get everything right, a page you manage to get into the famed "Top 10" on Infoseek might be listed at #100 on AltaVista. A listing in the 100th spot is almost worthless. Another way of marketing your Web site is by a banner program.

What is a banner exchange program? Banner exchange programs require you to join as a member. Some memberships are free, others cost money.

As a member of a banner exchange program, you have the option to display a banner on one or more of your Web pages. With each visit to your Web page, a new member's or sponsor's banner will automatically load. In exchange for placing a banner into your Web page, the program will display your banner on other Web sites for free.

What is a banner? Banners are image files made up in .jpg or .gif format. The size recommended is 460 pixels by 60 pixels. The preference is the .gif format. The reason is a .gif file can be made as an animated banner, which tends to appeal much more to the surfer.

What's in it for you? Each time the system displays a banner on your site, the program will automatically credit your account. The credits you accumulate are used to advertise your banners on the network of member's Web sites.

How many times your banner will be displayed depends on whether it is a paid or free banner program. The average ratio for a free banner program is 2 for 1. So for every visitor to your site, you receive .5 of a credit and a full credit gets one impression. Therefore, if you have 100 visitors a day, your banner will be displayed on 50 other Web sites.

Most programs make up the differenence by displaying their own or their sponsors banners. Another way is to purchase impressions, where your banner will be displayed on more sites.

The next word is 'click-through.' What is a 'click-through?' Just what the word says. Surfers who see your banner on other sites can click on it and it will take them to your site.

What does CTR mean? In the long term it means, 'click-through ratio' or how many 'click throughs' you receive for a number of impressions. A popular Web site can have a CTR of 15 to 1, while drilling sites might have a CTR of 100 to 1 or more.

Is it worthwhile using a banner program? Other than the fact drilling sites are not high on the popularity list, the answer should be yes, because it is a free way of advertising your site. The membership does offer some hidden values. There is always a daily, weekly or monthly tracking graph of the number of impressions and the CTR. The graph is always broken down into hours per day, and the Web site owner can keep up-to-date as to what is happening with his site.

There are many banner programs available on the Web. Banners can be made up yourself or purchased from other sites. One of the top-ranking banner programs can be found at

The solution for traffic is to research other ways of marketing your Web site. Don't leave your Web site to the mercy of the search engines. Search the Web for other ways and the results can make your site a winner.