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Page 2 — Set Your Priorities

Christina and I soon discovered how critical it is to figure out which goals absolutely need to be met, and which aren't worth the bother. When it comes to search engine optimization, it's easy to become obsessed with doing every little thing, but the rewards for that kind of attention to detail are far too small. You need to stick to chasing the big game.

The Biggest Fish to Fry: Yahoo, Google, and Inktomi

The Yahoo directory accounts for half the traffic referred to most sites. So get your site listed on Yahoo, and your traffic can literally double overnight. Beyond that, most search engine traffic comes from two places: Google and Inktomi.

Traffic from Google has increased at an astonishing rate over the past year: Jakob Nielsen's search engine referrals to his Useit site confirm this, as do the unpublished reports from retail sites like Stylata. Google, once considered a niche site for nerds, is the Wall Street Journal's pick for best search engine on the Net, and the traffic numbers seem to agree.

Inktomi, the number two traffic generator, doesn't run its own search site. Instead, the company provides the technology behind MSN Search and AOL Search, two top referrers, as well as Hotbot and over a dozen more.

Portal sites like Excite, Lycos, and AltaVista still draw lots of traffic, but together Google and Inktomi outweigh the entire rest of the field. Add it up and it's pretty clear how to maximize your traffic for the least effort:

  • Get yourself into Yahoo's directory.
  • Make sure your site is thoroughly crawled by Google and Inktomi.
  • Get lots of links to your site from domains that a lot of other sites link to — that's how Google and Inktomi determine relevance when ranking search results.
  • For all other search engines, implement a blanket strategy that gets you reasonable results. By not chasing each one of them separately, you can put your company's time and money to more important uses.

All of this can be accomplished with one, three-step process. And it really is as easy as 1-2-3.

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