How come my site doesn't come up when I do a Google, Bing or Yahoo search?

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If you're site is a typical town based sports club, you may not care much about being listed by the various search engines on the web such as Google, Yahoo or MSN.  The limited number of users of your site will probably be told or emailed its address. On the other hand, if your visitor base is larger or you want potential club members to be able to easily find you site, there are a number of points you should be aware of in order to improve your visibility on these sites. The following is our current thinking on what's best to do to improve your search engine ranking:

  1. First, while you can submit your site to many of the search websites out there, it's really not necessary and it probably won't help at all.  Don't be fooled by various companies out there claiming to be able to submit your site to hundreds of search engines.  Even if they could or did, this isn't how your site gets "looked at". The way things work is that search websites like Google or MSN have what are known as "Spiders" or "Bots".  These are simply programs that continually "surf" the Internet following links and examining domain registries. There are lots of these spiders out there and since they're constantly combing LeagueAthletics.com websites, it won't take but a day or two before they find your site once your domain is working. If you look at your site's Visitor Log, you'll notice entries in red where the Browser column has funky entries, many of which contain the word "bot" in them. These are spiders crawling your site.  They examine a page, cataloging its contents and looking for links to other pages.  they then follows the links they find and repeats the process for the next page they encounters and so on.
     
  2. Of all the search engines on the Internet, Google is probably the only one to worry about. The second largest, Yahoo uses Google's data anyway. MSN.com is the runner up and they use almost identical techniques for cataloging sites.
     
  3. Google rates your site on two criteria: 

    1. Keyword relevance. This data they get from the actual content of your pages. Search Engine Spiders used to look at meta tags but many sites abused these and so they are now ignored almost completely. The rule of thumb is that you want to get as many of the keywords you think people will be searching on, as high up on your home page as possible and repeated (in actual sentences) as often as possible while still maintaining grammatical sense (and without being too obnoxious). The name of your organization should appear right in your welcome message, even if it seems redundant. Any other keywords like your location, sport, etc., should also be included. Behind the scenes, we already do some of this. We automatically include some meta tags and we use your club's name in the ALT tags for many of the images (visible or not) high up in the HTML, as spiders also look at these.
       
    2. Your site's relevance is also (and perhaps more importantly) based on the number of other websites that link to yours and include the keywords being searched for. The idea is, the more popular you are with other websites, the more relevant to the search terms your site must be. For this reason, it's very important to get other sites to link to yours. Contact whatever organizations you belong to and get them to list you. To give you a head start with this, each of our paying customer websites has a link page that lists and links to all our other customer sites. That means that you'll automatically have a large number of sites already linking to you which will be a big help but pursue other linkages as well.
       
  4. Improving your search engine ranking takes time. Search engine companies send out "spiders" to "crawl" your site. If no other sites link to yours, it can take a long time for them to get around to you. If there are links out there however, they'll quickly (within days) find you. Once they do and catalog your site and its links, it can take up to a month before your data is properly added to their databases.
     

So, the two most important things to do to get a good search engine rating are: make the content of your pages relevant to the search terms you anticipate people will be searching on. Get as many sites as you can to link to yours. If you pay attention to these two points, you'll probably be the top ranked result for at least the name of your organization within a month or two.

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