SEO experts spend most of their time optimizing for Google and
occasionally one or two other search engines. There is nothing wrong
in it and it is most logical, having in mind that topping Google is
the lion's share in Web popularity but very often, no matter what you
do, topping Google does not happen. Or sometimes, the price you need
to pay (not literally but in terms of effort and time) to top Google
and keep there is too high. Maybe we should mention here the ultimate
SEO nightmare – being banned from Google, when you simply can't
use Google (or not at least until you are readmitted to the club) and
no matter if you like it or not, you need to have a look about
What are Google Alternatives
The first alternative to Google is obvious – optimize for
the other major search engines, if you have not done it already.
Yahoo! and MSN (to a lesser degree) can bring you enough visitors,
though sometimes it is virtually impossible to optimize for the three
of them at the same time because of the differences in their
algorithms. You could also optimize your site for (or at least submit
to) some of the other search engines (Lycos, Excite, Netscape, etc.)
but having in mind that they altogether hardly have over 3-5% of the
Web search traffic, do not expect much.
Another alternative is to submit to search directories (also known
as Web directories) and specialized search engines. Search
directories might sound so pre-Google but submitting to the right
directories might prove better than optimizing for MSN, for example.
Specialized search engines and portals have the advantage that the
audience they attract consists of people who are interested in a
particular topic and if this is your topic, you can get to your
target audience directly. It is true that specialized search engines
will not bring you as many visitors, as if you were topping Google
but the quality of these visitors is extremely high.
Naming all Google alternatives would be a long list and it is
outside the scope of this article but just to be a little more
precise about what alternatives exist, we cannot skip SEO instruments
like posting to blogs and forums or paid advertisements.
What is a Web Directory?
Web directories (or as they are better known – search
directories) existed before the search engines, especially Google,
became popular. As the name implies, web directories are directories
where different resources are gathered. Similarly to desktop
directories, where you gather files in a directory based on some
criterion, Web directories are just enormous collections of links to
sites, arranged in different categories. The sites in a Web directory
are listed in some order (most often alphabetic but it is not
necessarily so) and users browse through them.
Although many Web directories offer a search functionality of some
kind (otherwise it will be impossible to browse thousands of pages
for let's say Computers), search directories are fundamentally
different from search engines in the two ways – most
directories are edited by humans and URLs are not gathered
automatically by spiders but submitted by site owners. The main
advantage of Web directories is that no matter how clever spiders
become, when there is a human to view and check the pages, there is a
lesser chance that pages will be classified in the wrong categories.
The disadvantages of the first difference are that the lists in web
directories are sometimes outdated, if no human was available to do
the editing and checking for some time (but this is not that bad
because search engines also deliver pages that do not exist anymore)
and that sometimes you might have to wait half an year before being
included in a search directory.
The second difference – no spiders – means that you
must go and submit your URL to the search directory, rather than sit
and wait for the spider to come to your site. Fortunately, this is
done only once for each directory, so it is not that bad.
Once you are included in a particular directory, in most cases you
can stay there as long as you wish to and wait for people (and search
engines) to find you. The fact that a link to your site appears in a
respectable Web directory is good because first, it is a backlink and
second, you increase your visibility for spiders, which in turn
raises your chance to be indexed by them.
Examples of Web Directories
There are hundreds and thousands of search directories but
undoubtedly the most popular one is DMOZ.
It is a general purpose search directory and it accepts links to all
kinds of sites. Another popular general-purpose search directory is
Yahoo! Directory. The
Best of the Web and Jasmine Directory are some of the oldest Web directories that still
keeps to high standards in selecting sites.
Besides general-purpose Web directories, there are incredibly many
topical ones. For instance, the The
Environment Directory lists links to environmental sites only,
while The Radio Directory
lists thousands of radio stations worldwide, arranged by country,
format, etc. There are also many local and national Web directories,
which accept links to sites about a particular region or country only
and which can be great if your site is targeted at local and national
audience only. You see, it is not possible to mention even the topics
of specialized search directories only because the list will get
incredibly long. Using Google and specialized search resources like
Search Engines Directory, you can find on your own many
directories that are related to your area of interest.
Specialized Search Engines
What is a Specialized Search Engine?
Specialized search engines are one more tool to include in your
SEO arsenal. Unlike general-purpose search engines, specialized
search engines index pages for particular topics only and very often
there are many pages that cannot be found in general-purpose search
engines but only in specialized ones. Some of the specialized search
engines are huge sites that actually host the resources they link to,
or used to be search directories but have evolved to include links
not only to sites that were submitted to them. There are many
specialized search engines for every imaginable topic and it is
always wise to be aware of the specialized search engines for your
niche. The examples in the next section are by no means a full list
of specialized search engines but are aimed to give you the idea of
what is available. If you search harder on the Web, you will find
many more resources.
Examples of Specialized Search Engines
Probably specialized search engines are not that numeric as Web
directories but still certainly there is no shortage of them either,
especially if one counts password-protected sites with database
accessible only from within the site as a specialized search engine.
As with Web directories, if there were a list of specialized search
engines it would be really, really long (and constantly changing), so
instead, here are some links to lists of search engines: Pandia
Search Engines, the already mentioned The
Search Engines Directory, etc. What is common for these lists is
that they offer a selection of specialized search engines, arranged
by topic, so it is a good starting point for the hunt of specialized