May 13, 2004, 12:00 AM

Do your homework on XML feeds to search engines, experts warn

One way to assure that web pages get included in Overture and other search engines is to use XML to feed pages to them. But that’s not enough to assure good placement in search results, experts warn.

One way to assure that web pages get included in Overture and other search engines is to use XML to feed pages to them. But to assure good placement in search results, marketers still need to assure that their web pages have a lot of relevant content and links from other related web sites, warns Heather Lloyd-Martin, president and CEO of search marketing consultants SuccessWorks.

XML feeds are becoming a leading practice in assuring inclusion on Yahoo Inc.’s Overture and other search engines, Lloyd-Martin and other experts say. "It certainly has become a best practice," says George Michie, vice president of search engine marketing firm Rimm-Kaufman Group.

Some web site operators will provide XML feeds of only certain pages, including those with dynamic content that can be difficult for search engine crawlers to capture, while others will use XML feeds for large numbers of pages to assure that a large minimum is represented in an index. XML provides a transfer code designed to be accepted by search engines that otherwise might not be able to translate it.

But XML feeds alone won’t assure an effective search marketing campaign, Lloyd-Martin says. "Some people think they’re home free if they just use XML feeds, they have a ‘submit it and forget it’ mentality," she says. "But placement in search results is still based on page content, page links, and how relevant the page title is."

Lloyd-Martin adds that marketers should also consider using editing tools that let them modify pages sent to search engines to account for changes in promotions or other product updates. Editing tools are available from companies like YourAmigo.com and Did-It.com, she says.

 

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