Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Search Engines - The What, How, and Why of Web Crawlers

Surveys have shown that when potential customers want to find a website for information, or to purchase a product or service, they do this in one of three ways. They may have heard about the site from a friend or read about it in an article. They may find the site by clicking a link found on another site. The most popular option, by far, is that they find a website by using a search engine.

In fact, 90% of Internet users find what they are looking for by using a search engine. Since it is the search engine that ultimately brings a prospect to your website, it is imperative that you have an understanding of how these search engines actually function and how they decide what information to show the person that requested the search.

When you submit your website to a search engine, it will send a robot, often called a spider or crawler, to index your site. This automated program will visit your site, read it's content, read the Meta tags, and follow any outgoing links that you may have. The spider then reports all this info back to a data bank where it is stored and indexed. It will also do the same for any sites that you have linked to. The spider will revisit your website periodically to check for additions and changes. The frequency of these return visits will vary from one engine to another.

All search engines employ some sort of ranking system to determine what the website is about and how important each website or web page is. The algorithm varies slightly from one search engine to another, but basically they analyze the frequency and location of your keywords on the web page. They also look at how your web pages link to other web pages. Using this information, the search engine can determine the subject of your web page and decide how 'important' your website is.

When someone requests a search on a search engine, it actually searches its database or index to find the information for you. It is not really searching the web in real time. It will return results to the searcher according to the ranking it has assigned to the pages. Each search engine will rank a page differently because they don't all use the same algorithm, but their common goal is to present the most relevant search results first.

A webmaster needs to keep in mind that potential customers will probably only look at the first few listings before making a choice and clicking away from the search results. Yes, it does matter where you site shows up in the search results! Keyword research and quality content using these keywords effectively should be every website owner's first priority. The success of your website depends on it.

What 90% of All Business Owners Don't Know

What types of protection does your business have...or need? More than you expect!

The types of coverage you need depends on several factors: The size of your business, how your business is organized (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, LLC), number of employees, type of compensation you're receiving (salary, fees, commissions), nature of business (service, product), where it is located, and your exposure to liability.

Things to ponder:

Do you have enough life insurance to protect your family, should you die prematurely? If you have a service business, your business is worth Zero when you die. For example, the spouse of a deceased doctor or lawyer can only sell the tools of the trade, not the clients (the true bread and butter of any service business). You can sell your service business prior to your death, if you can predict when that may occur. Otherwise, all service business owners should protect their families with a minimum coverage of 7X gross income.

If your goal is to have a member of your family take over your business at your demise, are they capable (and licensed) to do so?

Do you have disability insurance, in case you're incapable of running your enterprise because of illness or injury? This type of coverage will usually give you approximately 60% of your income, for a stipulated period of time. The benefit may be taxable or non-taxable (depending on whether or not you deducted the premium as a business expense).

More important...do you have Business Overhead Insurance? Who will cover the costs of running your business (utilities, insurance, salaries) while you're out of commission? Disability Insurance will not cover your business overhead expenses, unless it is an add-on.

If you have partners, do you have a Buy-Sell Agreement? This will protect your interest in the business, should your partner suddenly die. Example: your partner dies...his wife claims her share of the business. Do you really want your deceased partner's relatives to take over their share of the business? This type of coverage would allow you to buy out your deceased partner's share of the business, avoiding any conflicts or interference by outside parties.

Do you have Disability Buy-Out Coverage? What would you do if a partner becomes severely disabled? Do you want to keep paying him (or her) for work he cannot do, possibly for years? After a period of time, this type of coverage would force your disabled partner to sell you his share of the business, based on a previously signed equitable agreement.

Of course, many of these situations may not occur, but it's your business. Decide which types of coverage you deem most important...then speak to a professional who can give you the types of coverage you need to protect your enterprise.