For what it's worth, here's my advice........

  Forum Editor 23:49 20 Apr 2006

Pay no money to anyone who tells you (or infers) that they can get your site listed on page one of the Google search returns.........because they can do nothing that you can't do yourself, for free.

The whole business of search engine 'optimisation' is alive with crooks and charlatans, and it's useful to be able to explode a few myths and understand a few facts.

1. You can submit your site to Google, but it's unlikely to make the slightest bit of difference - the vast majority of Google-listed sites have never been submitted.

2. Google listing does not involve a single human being at the Google end - it's all done by software 'robots'.

3. You cannot pay Google to improve your site's listing profile - they don't work that way.

4. Adding metatags to your site will have no beneficial effect on your Google listing, no matter what anyone tells you to the contrary.

5. There's no special secret, mumbo-jumbo code or trick to ensure a high Google listing, and anyone who tells you otherwise is deluding themselves, and you.

6. The one sure way to improve your chances of a high listing - and I've said it many times before here - is to get other sites to link to yours.

Google uses very sophisticated software 'spiders' to crawl the web and look for new sites. The spiders will find your site in their own time, and you'll be listed eventually, but you can load the dice slightly. One of the ways Google's spiders work is by hyperlink-jumping, that is, they jump from site to site using links - and the more links your site has, the better the chances of a spider landing there soon. One will land there eventually anyway, but you'll be visited sooner if you can persuade other sites - preferably ones with a complementary theme or content style - to swap links with you.

The Google page ranking technology is incredibly complex, and doesn't rely simply on counting the links to your site's pages, it ranks them by using a sophisticated voting system which works out how many 'votes' a specific page receives from other pages elsewhere on the internet. It's far too involved to cover in any great detail here, and in any case it isn't necessary for you to understand it in its entirety. Just make sure that your site's navigation works perfectly, and that there are regular updates - even if this just involves changing a few text paragraphs and images every couple of months.

Work really hard to get other webmasters to swap links with you, and make sure that any sites you link to are well-maintained. Do this and you'll see your traffic figures rise, and your Google listing improve.........but don't expect an overnight miracle.

There you are, £5500 saved.

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