Build it and they will come. This is not necessarily always true, and if you own a Web site, you already know better! We all know to maximize our traffic, we need to have good search engine rankings. We work hard at developing our list of keywords, placing them strategically on our sites, and we hope the search engines will index them and give us a high ranking. We subscribe to newsletters, buy books, and do everything we can to learn about improving our positions and nothing seems to improve. After doing this, and even after getting some good rankings, our traffic may not increase at all. What's wrong?

Here is an example: Suppose you had a site with classified ads for drilling equipment. When someone searches the Internet for classified ads, many search engines give the highest rankings to sites having the exact "string" of keywords the surfer used to search. This "string" is called "key phrases."

Did the surfer search for "classified drilling equipment ads," "classified ads," "classified drill ads," or was it an entirely different string? How would you ever know?

Even if you have a log file software that tells you what string someone used to find your site, it doesn't tell you about searches people made who did 'NOT' find your site. And that's what you really need to know!

You may already know that very few people search the Web by using just one word. They soon learn the results they get are too broad. If they search for "classifieds" when looking for a drill, they will get many returns that have nothing to do with drills. With this in mind, it's very possible key phrases you are using on your site are hardly used by searchers!

What good would it do for you to rank very high in "classified drilling ads" if no one ever searches for that? What if most people search for "drilling classified ads" or "drill classifieds"?

So many Web site owners do their brainstorming, come up with keywords or key phrases, and submit them to search engines. They get a high ranking, and they congratulate themselves. Of course they received a high ranking! They are using words and phrases nobody uses and nobody wants! Another mistake is they rely on a "key phrase" that is so popular they are competing with tens of thousands of other sites. They are lost in the crowd.

Do you know that some of the most often used keywords are "search," "find," "free," "where," "do," "I," etc? Many people actually type "search for..." or "find..." or "where do I..." or "free." But search engines have also a list of "ignore" words. And the above words fit right into this category. There is the possibility such words as, "bit" "bits" and "used" can be ignored words. Search engines don't publicize what words they classify as "ignore" words.

How good are meta tags? The meta tag for the description of your site should be used. Place a few words so the spider can read them. Don't use too many because the search engine may have a limit. About 128 bytes would be the outside limit allowed. Any more words will be ignored. Same rule applies for the meta tag "keywords." A continual repeat of the same word does not increase your strength in the word. Rather, it will weaken the word. Repeating the same word lengthens the file and only one rating will be given to the word. Search engines have a limit on meta tag "keywords." The outside limit may only be 256 bytes.

Don't "spam" the search engines. Don't use words that don't apply to your site. "MP3" and "sex" are two of the most actively searched words. Don't use such words just to generate traffic. You want targeted traffic--other visitors will just be upset with you and leave. Several of the search engines and directories will catch you at this, and delete your site from their databases.

Keep trying! After your pages have been submitted and indexed, do searches and see how you rank. Here's a site that will help you check your rating:

/Search.html. This is a site where you can enter your search words and obtain results from four search engines at one time. There are 25 search engines to choose from. Once you have your ratings, redo your pages and re-submit your site.

With persistence, you can win!