How do you ensure that your site is easily found by your potential audience?

Links to your site from other similar sites will help, but the common wisdom on the net is that Search Engines and Directories are still by far the most common way for users to find what they are looking for.

Estimates vary for search engine use, from maybe 60% to in excess of 90% of users. Submitting your site to be indexed by the main search engines will help improve your visibility, but your ranking in the search engine lists depend on how you have set up your web pages.

Most search engines, if they look at the body of the document at all, tend to give priority to information in the first few paragraphs. Words found near the top of a page, particularly uncommon words, are assumed to be representative of the rest of the page.

Key words or phrases used more frequently are assumed to have more relevance. Try to develop key phrases which encapsulate your organisation or purpose, as these will probably be more useful to the people looking for your site. You might like to think about using different key phrases on different pages, as a way or increasing your chances of allowing your potential users to find you.

Key phrases in the <TITLE> of your document will be given be given a high priority by most search engine agents. This is the first place most agents look for information about your site, so think carefully about what you put in the title description.

A couple of years ago, Mecklermedia reported that perhaps only 30% of websites were using <META> tags. Many of the larger search engines look for META tags in pages before anything else, so if your site contains "Keyword" and "Description" META tags then you are well on the way to being placed higher in the search engine ratings.

META tags are placed between <HEAD> and </HEAD>. The following examples will give you some idea of how they could be used:

<META name="description" content="The Joint Council of Subject Associations of Victoria (JCSAV) is the overarching body for subject associations in Victoria">

This will become the summary displayed by many of the search engines and will appear after information taken from the <TITLE> of the document.

Some search engines will only search on around 130 characters of a description, so try and keep your META description tag shorter than this.

<META name="keywords" content="teach, teaching, teacher, teachers, subject, association, Victoria, Australia, advocacy, education">

This information will not be visible to people who use a search engine, but it will give extra information to the search engine and will also help boost your placing in the search engine ratings. You can list the same words, or variations on the same words, several times to boost your ratings, though some search engines are now actually ignoring META tags which are too repetitive.

If your website uses Javascripts then I would suggest that you should also use the META tags as well, as the text in the Javascript, being included in the <HEAD> of the HTML document, is what many of the search engines will try to use to create an index of your site. Sites which make use of frames should also use metadata. It should be included in the page which creates the <FRAMESET>. This is particularly important as the spiders and robots look at the text in the HTML page to create an index, and in most frameset pages people don't bother to create a <NOFRAMES> alternative.

Writers should make good descriptive use of ALT tags for images as this is another place that some search engines look for information.

Having created the perfect site, ready for indexing by search engines, how do you ensure that your site is looked at?

You actually don't need to do anything. Most search engines have robots or spiders out searching the web constantly, indexing everything they come across. They find new sites by following links from site to site, so as long as you have other sites pointing to yours you will eventually be indexed and included in the major search engines. You can speed the process considerably by registering your site with the search engines directly.

A good start on this would be to visit the search engines listed below and register your site with them:


These and many other engines have registration forms which allows your site to be registered for searching. Sites are generally searched some time between one day and two weeks after you register.

The Site Inspector ( website will help you register your site with several of the major search engines.

Do think about going back and fine tuning your search engine placement every so often. Search engine agents will visit your site periodically to look for new information, so as you change your site you will find that it will slowly be reflected in the information displayed in search engine listings. As information on your site changes, alter the META information in the head of your document and key phrases in the body of your text. Alter the information in the <TITLE> of your document, as this causes some search engines to re-index your site, increasing your chances of being found by your potential audience.

Guides and Directories are other valuable resources for you when trying to get your site noticed. Visit sites like EdNA and register your site with them. EdNA will be one of the best sites for subject associations to be listed in, as the EdNA directories are aimed squarely at the education sector in Australia. JCSAV lists websites for all member associations., Send a paragraph to me for inclusion on this listing to help attract more visitors to your site.

Register your site with the Victorian Education Channel ( To gain best exposure from the Channel, you should include at least Dublin Core Metadata in your pages.

Try to establish links with other subject associations with similar interests, both in Victoria and in other states in Australia, then start working on the associations overseas. Keep in mind your target audience. If you are interested primarily in servicing teachers in Victoria, developing a site which draws lots of traffic from the UK or USA probably isn't going to be of much use to you. Why are you advertising your site to teachers elsewhere? There are of course reasons why you will want to attract teachers from elsewhere to your site. If you have set up a chat room or message board or have developed a mailing list you can use your website to advertise this and hopefully attract teachers who will contribute to the discussion. This can be a great way of introducing new ideas and points of view, and at the same time encourage local teachers to participate as well.

For more information about making your site more search engine friendly, as well as background information on how search engines work, visit