Set Your Search Engine Marketing Preferences (1,596 words)
The algorithm will analyze things like keyword density (i.e., if the search word(s) makes up a percentage range of the page's text that would indicate a relevant, non-spam entry) and link popularity (how many sites point to your site, and how many sites point to those sites, and so on) to return the most statistically relevant sites.
So it makes sense to design an e-commerce site with spiders in mind. This process is called search engine optimization (SEO). Since there is no cost associated with being "crawled," a site optimized to rank highly on engines like Google and Inktomi can be very cost effective.
"The search engines will reward you for being informative," explains Stephen Gorgey, president of Target Logics, a Glendale, CA-based online marketing firm. "A lot of people will lose sight [of the goal]. They'll say, 'Well, I just want to sell my product.' But in order to be ranked by search engines, you have to provide a service to the surfer."
There are, however, several drawbacks of SEO. First off—and unlike pay-for-performance models which will be discussed later—because of the nature of the algorithms, there can be a lag-time between when your site is optimized and when your traffic jumps.
Also, there is no way to guarantee that SEO will increase traffic. Part of the reason is that engines that employ spiders will periodically change their algorithms to enhance performance or to thwart Web sites that have figured out ways to artificially inflate their rankings.
A recent Wall Street Journal article recounts the story of Joy Holman, whose site, exoticleatherwear.com, plummeted in the Google's rankings overnight—and right before the busy holiday season—due, ostensibly, to a change in the search engine's algorithm. Holman's site had been designed using a technique of placing "hidden" words on the site—terms displayed in the same color as the background—to trick the spider.