Roll out the big guns and pull more users to your agency's Web site

Government offices face a dilemma when it comes to Web presence. They post all kinds of
information they want to share with the public, yet the public often doesn't use it or
even know about it.


As the fiscal year winds down, many sites are under pressure to prove they're viable
public resources. With funding at stake, getting noticed becomes doubly important.


In an earlier column [GCN, March 31, Page 40], I
mentioned tricks you can use to get noticed by Internet search engines. If you're still
feeling obscure, it might be time to bring out the heavy artillery: Web sites, consultants
and software that can help your site become a target for the search engines.


Here's what they do and how to find them.


For about the same price, you can
buy the Submit It program that coordinates URL updates right from your desktop. Fill out a
form that makes the submission for you, contacting whatever search engines you select.


Tailoring, tweaking


This provides updates tailored to search
engine requirements plus suggestions for tweaking your pages.


WebPromote of Libertyville, Ill., sells several search engine aids. The $595 WebPromote
deluxe package includes submission to more than 200 search engines and directories, plus a
guide with suggestions to improve your ranking.


I like WebPromote's follow-up service. Six months after submission, it looks around for
results and sends you a report of how you ranked on specific Web searches. This is useful
for refining your page content.


Incidentally, the best way to improve your ranking is to use metatags to insert
descriptions.


Don't cram too much in. If your site deals with multiple subjects, consider creating
multiple home pages with the same look but different metatags. You'll show up higher in
search results if your metatag isn't muddled by multiple topics.


Instead, create an advertising-style banner
for your Web ring. Clicking on the ad would carry the user to the next site on the chain
or to an index page that lists all your partner sites.


Shawn P. McCarthy is a computer journalist, webmaster and Internet programmer for GCN's
parent, Cahners Publishing Co. E-mail him at smccarthy@cahners.com.


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