Re: How to promote a Web site? (Long)

Subject: Re: How to promote a Web site? (Long)
From: lyndsey -dot- amott -at- docsymmetry -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 2004 18:43:20 -0500

Sorry to get into this subject so late. You are referring to the current obsession in my life: search engine optimization (seo). The chances that any search engine will list your site within the top 30 listings for "technical writers", "technical writing", and "technical communicators" are somewhere between nil and nowhere--Google returns nearly 7 million sites for "technical writing" after all. The question is how to make your site rise above all of these.
When people search the web, they are not looking for you, they are looking for information. If you do not have information on your site that answers their questions, users will not find your site. Furthermore, your site is mainly a commercial site, and it is believed that commercial sites are penalized by the search engines.
You could go to one of the pay-for-inclusion sites like Yahoo, but what you are paying for is for a human to look at your site to determine whether it should be included in the directory. If they don't like your site, it will not be included and you will not get your money back. Since your site is mainly commercial, my feeling is that it will be money down the tube.
There are two important free-inclusion directories on the web: dmoz ( and zeal (, I think). As with Yahoo, a human visitor decides whether or not to include a site. If the site is commercial, it is less likely to be accepted. The good news is that if it is listed, these are links that Google ranks highly, and the more high-value links you have going into your site, the higher Google ranks you in their search listings. In fact, if your site is listed at dmoz, it is automatically listed in the Google directory (not the same thing as the Google search engine) and at many other, less well known search engines. For example, if you do a search on my site (, you will see that a number of these small engines list my site. But if you go to these sites, you will also see that the listing is identical in each because these sites just pull the info from dmoz.
Aside from good, non-commercial content, Google determines the value of your site according to a number of unknown factors, but also, as I said, according to the number of high-ranking sites that link into it. One of your goals should therefore be to get other sites to link to your site. Knowing this, you might look at your site in a different way: what about it would make people want to link to it? For example, if you had a really good article on your site that my visitors would find useful, I might link to it -- well, unless I thought your site was a competing site.
Google also values sites that link out to others. This is, I believe, one of the reasons why Darren Barefoot's site ranks so well. Many bloggers link to his site. My site links to his site. So another of your goals should be to link to other sites. However, do not be led into joining link exchanges with unrelated sites because Google penalizes sites that do so.
To find out more about seo, just do a search on seo. As others have mentioned, is an excellent site. Google also has an information site for webmasters--you will get a ton of information there if you search on "search engine optimization" and "google dance". But the best site, IMO, for finding out how to get traffic to your site is Follow the site's Content > Traffic > PreSell > Monetize (CTPM) mantra and you will be well on your way to creating a site that gets traffic and generates income.
Another site you should look at is the keyword tool ( x). Here you can enter a keyword and find out how many searches were done last month on that keyword as well as all related keywords. For example, here are the first five results for the keyword "technical writing":
Keyword ......................Searches
technical writing ............381
houston technical writing .....77
los angeles technical writing .47
chicago technical writing .....43
dallas technical writing ......42
This is the data from only one search engine, but you can extrapolate from these numbers the number of searches that were done at other search engines. You can also understand that, unless your site contains these keywords, it probably won't be found at the 7search search engine.
Google has a similar tool (, but it does not show the number of searches that were done on a keyword. However, I think you can assume that the results are listed in order of search frequency. Here are the first five results for the keyword "technical writing":
technical writing
technical writing jobs
technical writing course
technical writing training
what is technical writing
Another good tool is the search engine positioning tool at ( Here you can find out where your site ranks at Google for the keywords you specify. My site has been on the web since October, and it is not even on the radar screen for "technical writing." However, today it ranks at number 2 for "hiring a technical writer" and "technical writing process," and number 7 for "technical writing tips". How does this convert to traffic? Not great! I average about 50 unique visitors a day, but this improves every month. While it is my greatest wish for my site to rank well for "technical writing" I don't expect this to happen any time soon. The same goes for your site. While your ultimate goal is to get a good ranking for "technical writing", your immediate goal is to get a good ranking for the other related keywords. Just remember that you must have content before you can get traffic or a good search engine position.
Lyndsey Amott
Winnipeg, MB R3G 2J3

Steven Oppenheimer wrote:
Within the next few days I will be posting a dramatically altered and
updated Web site for my business, Oppenheimer Communications, which
provides technical writing services. I'd like to ensure that when people
search for writers, technical writers, or technical communicators on the
Web, my site shows up prominently near the top of the listings.
I went to Yahoo to check out their paid offerings for increased Web site
visibility, and it's one of those cases of too many options -- I can't make
heads or tails of what is what. All I want is to spend no more than a
couple of hundred dollars, on a one-time basis, to increase my Web site
visiblity. I want things so that when people do a search on Google or
Yahoo for technical writers, there is a reasonable chance my company shows
up near the top of the listing. (The question is, what can I do by way of
paid fees to achieve this; I've already optimized the pages in terms of
keywords, links, and such.) Can anyone who has been there/done that walk
me through the process, and tell me what options/services/features I'm
looking for?


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