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Who's Too Small To Matter? Northern Light, Wisenut, etc. - there are still a few minor search engines out there, and at least some have sound business fundamentals that will keep them from disappearing. In big picture, though, they simply don't command much traffic.
What Does It Mean? For starters, there will likely be only three significant search engine databases - a year ago there were at least seven. Interestingly, all three use "themes" to categorize and rank websites.
As a result, a solid search engine positioning strategy should focus on providing three things that three major indexes and DirectHit reward: consistent theme; significant content; and high-quality linking relationships.
A consistent theme means careful keyword selection and use - not trying to make every page stand alone, but instead weaving them together in a logical fashion.
Good content not only reinforces theme, it also provides a reason for visitors to stay on site longer, which improves DirectHit ratings.
Finally, quantity of incoming and outgoing links will matter less over time, while context and quality of those links will continue to become more important, ensuring that major directories will have plenty of customers for a long time.
I wish you success...
Dan Thies has been helping his clients (and friends) promote their websites since 1996. His latest book, "Search Engine Fast Start," is available at http://www.cannedbooks.com