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Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 22:12 GMT 23:12 UK
Improving your rank
Jean-Pierre Eskenazi
Web positioning specialist Jean-Pierre Eskenazi
By BBC News Online's Iain Rodger

OK, so you've got your business up on the web - how do you get it noticed? I mean really noticed - right up there in the top few sites brought up by search engines like Yahoo, Altavista and Google.

Welcome to the world of web positioning, the natural habitat of Jean-Pierre Eskenazi, founder and chairman of French dot.com NetBooster.

Launched in 1998, this is no ordinary dot.com. It turned in a profit in its first year in business.

NetBooster has just launched in the UK, into a market IT research analysts IDC say will be worth 60m by the end of next year.

Qu'est-ce que c'est?

In a nutshell, what NetBooster does is constantly monitor how search engines go about their business so that it can make sure your website gets a top billing.

IDC reckon about 75% of web users find what they are looking for with search tools that are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They also say most never go beyond the first three pages of a search result listing.

This, Mr Eskenazi says, means web positioning is vital: "We guarantee that our clients will have a sustained positioning on the first two pages after one year."

NetBooster has set up a research laboratory in Paris to monitor the very secretive world of search engine technology.

Vice-president international development
NetBooster vice-president Gilles Bourdin
At the moment, the essential element is to optimise the meta tags, or keywords, you submit with your webpage to the search engine.

These meta tags are the main determinants of how your website gets "found".

But the technology is becoming more sophisticated all the time. For example, Google includes "notoriety" in its ordering of the results.

This assumes that the more credible your website is, the more links to it there will be from other websites, and adjusts its ranking accordingly.

Using flash technology in the design of websites further complicates the way they are seen by search engines.

'Optimised'

NetBooster uses "alias pages", described by vice-president Gilles Bourdin as "duplications of the actual entry page of a website with optimised and business-related meta tags".

With this technology, he says, submissions to 10 or 12 search engines will be sufficient to respond to the majority of requests on the internet.

NetBooster says its service would typically cost about 7,000 a year for 10 pages submitted to 12 search engines, including monitoring and maintaining web positioning.

It is not the only firm offering web positioning services (see links in right-hand panel), but it is sure to shake up the UK market by specialising in this one area, which until now has often tended to be dealt with as part of a web agency package.

It is strangely reassuring to find, however, that even in this fast-changing world, some things seem to stay the same.

Asked about his own company's web positioning, Mr Bourdin said: "It's just like in the old story of the shoemaker.

"He has the worst shoes in the village. Yes, we could do better."

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See also:

29 Mar 00 | Business
Autonomy claims the search is over
14 Sep 00 | UK
The end of the internet?
03 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
Search engine seeks billion URLs
07 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
Web engines could do better
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