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Search Engines: What you should know...
Search engines are confusing to most folks...not using them to find stuff (even though there are techniques you can use to be more effective), but in finding out how to get on them...

They are powerful databases (lists) allowing internet users to find specific information. They are powerful not only in what they can do, but in the control they exercise over who gets listed....It is entirely up to them whether your site is listed or not....

Some of the largest search engines now charge to be submitted. For a fee of $299, one submission will submit you to AOL, Yahoo, _______and several other major search engines. A second submission for another $299 gets you submitted to MSN,,........and most of the rest of the big, heavily used search engines.  This covers approximately 95% of the searches done on the internet.

Many of the rest are still free submissions, but must be handled just as carefully, to be listed at all. 

Indexes:  What's the Difference?

A Search Engine Index is a separate submission that will list you with the same folks, but on an index by the address of your website only..  It will not search for specific words within your site.  These are usually free.
A good comparison is your local telephone directory. An index would be like the white pages, listing everyone in alphabetical order.  In the yellow pages you appear by category, and that costs money (lots of money).
Meta Tags: What are they?
Meta Tags are invisible words in the code of your website that group together all the words your customers might use to search for you on a search engine.  They include types of products or services, specific brand names, the name of your company, and any other words someone might use to find you.  You should include all possible mis-spellings of words as well.  That may be a point many webmasters miss.
What to do they require for Submission?

Each Search Engine has different requirements, 
and they change them on a moment's notice...
The example above, showing the Meta Tags , gives you an idea:
You must have a Title for your page: It should be brief, descriptive, and contain as many key search words for your site as possible. Limits on size vary by search engine...
You must have a Description for your page: A short description of your business that will make the customer click to your site. Limits on size vary from 5 to 25 words, so put the most important ones first.
You must have Meta Tags (search words) for your site: Limits on the number accepted on submission vary from 5 to 25 as well, so put the most important ones first. Just include everything else on your page as well. 
What Else will they Make You do?
Well, they'll make you choose a category to be listed under, from a pre-determined list, whether you might qualify for several, or not. 
Now here's the scarey part:
They GUARANTEE NOTHING. Not whether you will be accepted, when it might happen (2 days to 6 months), or where you might come up on a search. ...and they don't refund... Some also will permanently disregard your site if you do not follow their rules, or re-submit too soon.
So What Can You Do?
Follow the rules exactly
Keep checking to see if you've been listed
Make your site "long enough"  (One page won't do it. You'll need 3 to 5 pages)
Include plenty of contact info.
Make your site easy to navigate with good links.
Convince your suppliers and other companies to link to your site. (this holds weight)
Make it "informative" or "useful" in some way. 
     A construction company might include a page on how to choose a reliable contractor, with links to the Better Business Bureau, the local Homebuilders Association, Consumer Protection Agency, Contractors Licensing Board, etc.
     A dentist might include a page on implants, with diagrams.
     A pet store may include pages on care and feeding of certain animals.
How Internet Consumers Find Web Sites:

This little survey may help you to realize the value of using your business name as your domain name, and the value of getting listed on search engines, online yellow pages and indexes.
Search engines: 81%
Link from another site: 59%
Viral marketing (word of mouth): 56%
TV: 48%
Guessed URL: 41%
Online advertising: 20%
Radio: 19%
Direct mail: 10%

* Source: Jun. 2000 Forrester Research Inc.
"UK Internet User Monitor"

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