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Doug - I read your note about phony offers for web site hits, but could you recommend something legitimate. I am starting [some new websites], and would like to show some hits to start pushing the site up in ranking - in addition to doing some pay-per-click, etc. Any ideas for me? Thanks,

First, let me start off by saying that you shouldn't count on Pay Per Click systems raising your rankings in the search engines. Yes, they will drive traffic to your site, but there's no guarantee that it'll help you get a higher ranking in Google, MSN, Yahoo or the other big boys. I'll explain more about that in a minute.

Let me give you three suggestions for getting your site better rankings in the search engines.

First, you need to make sure that your site is optimized well for search engines. This means dealing with your Title tag on each page, as well as your meta description and meta keywords tags. Here's an explanation of those tags: Meta Tags - Description and Keywords. What are they? Now, you can hire someone to do that work for you (I'd even consider taking on the project myself) but you probably have someone in house who can study up on the details of optimizing your tags, and do it without paying an outside contractor.

Second, get your site listed in as many search engines and web directories as possible. The search engines are good, but directories are also valuable, because they are a permanent clickable link to your site, which the search engines then take into account in their measurement of link popularity.

Third, ncrease your "Link Popularity". Generally speaking, the search engines like websites which have a lot of other websites linking to them. Getting people to link to you can be a daunting task, and it takes months sometimes before the search engines even notice the links that others have given to you. If you want people to link to you, you need to make sure that your site has valuable content.

And, of course, if you provide valuable content, eventually people will link to you without you even asking. Because this site is filled with fun educational games, it has hundreds of school districts all over the world which have linked to it, and I never asked them to. Why? Because the teachers love the free educational games and resources!

Now, back to my Pay Per Click comment. Remember that search engines are hungry for sites with link popularity, and you might think that having Pay Per Click ads on other sites counts toward link popularity. But typically Pay Per Clicks are either hidden behind javascript, or redirects, or some other fancy footwork, so the search engines never even see your site through those links. So while Pay Per Clicks will drive traffic to your site, they won't get you any long-term ranking help (unless, of course, the people who visit your site from those ads then proceed to link you up on their own websites!)

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