A search engine is the index to the World Wide Web. You query the search engine by entering a keyword or phrase. The search engine responds with a list of web pages, which may or may not match your query. Many search engines have databases listing web pages numbering in the millions. Their purpose is to relate keywords and phrases with the web pages and respond with the relevant page list to the users query. A user may enter a phrase such as "real estate" and the search engines would respond with pages that contain "real estate", pages containing "real" and "estate", pages containing "real" and pages containing "estate".
The major search engines gather the data by programs called robots or spiders, which download your web page, and scan it making note of the key words. They make note of references to other web pages and may scan them also. So, why is it so important to know how they work? You have to know what they are looking for and how they will index your web page. You have to also know what they watch for in so far as spamming (methods sometimes employed to try and enhance a web pages standing with the search engine by utilizing various tricks). You have to know how to submit your web site to the search engines in a way to provide a good position in their directory. You have to know how to write a web page to get a good position with the search engine and you have to know how to keep its good position (its rating with a particular search engine).
The key factor is to obtain the best search engine rating for your site and maintain that rating. Your web site is the means to advertise your business on the Internet and the higher the search engine rates your site, the closer you will be to the top of the search. This means more hits on your web site. Most users will look at the first 3 to 4 pages search engines return in response to their queries. The higher you need to be with the search engine rating, the more effort it takes to obtain this rating. Thus if you can get the traffic you need with a 30 to 60 position in the search, it would take less time and effort than it would if you need to be in the top 10 or so.
Another thought to consider is what keywords would best serve your site. If you have a business which is very common, and there are more than 200 of these same businesses on the Internet, you are less likely to gain a high enough position to be listed in a search. A site with a generic key word like "Real Estate" has little hope of being listed in a search engine, as there are more than 25,918,552 (in 1998 there were only 972,212) real/estate related web pages at last check with the AltaVista search engine. By itself, your site would not make the top 200 cut but if you have other keywords such as "New Hampshire" to go along with it, you have a better chance of getting indexed. NHBweb can work with you to understand your market and how people will search for your site.
There are over 400 search engines on the Internet and there are maybe 20 which are used regularly. If you were to list your web site with all the search engines, you would spend much time and effort on just that task. There are services which will list your web site with all 400 but they don't take it personnally as they utilize software to do a general listing. You can't get your web site to make the top 30 or even make the 200 cut just by submitting to search engines. Concentrate on the top 80% to 90%. Let NHBweb handle your search engine requirements.
At NHBweb, we have the capability to monitor a web site's position within the top 10 search engines. We also can track requests from various web sites and search engines giving us vital information, indicating which search engines would be more important for your site.
Whether you advertise to the general public through newspapers, magazines or professional publications, you will also be able to make reference to your web site. Sometimes the best advertizing for a web site is to reference it where ever your company is mentioned. Always mention "Visit our Web Site at www.yourcompany.com".