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By Loreth Beswetherick The plethora of new sites being spawned by the World Wide Web daily and the subsequent tangle of information cluttering search engines is creating a new breed of entrepreneur — someone who can help clear the way and make sure websites pop-up in all the right places — for a price. Whistler’s Ross Dunn is one such new-age knight — young, self taught and, to the best of his knowledge, the only one in the community to make a full-time business of website management. Dunn did what a self-employed high-techie-type can do — move to some place nice and telecommute. He recently relocated to Whistler from Vancouver Island, citing the mountains and lifestyle options as the reason. Under the banner BraveArt, Dunn is doing business promoting websites and working in conjunction with local designers, on a commission basis, to make sure their sites receive a high profile and are well promoted on the key search engines. To the uninitiated, that basically means tweaking sites to provide the best results on search engines through the use of key words. Where the words are placed — and the amount of them — are directly proportional to where a website will crop up on a search, explained Dunn. Once he has tinkered with a site, he will monitor the results and provide monthly reports on how the site is ranked on each major search engine. And things don’t stay the same for long on the World Wide Web. As site managers find ways to cheat the system, search engines come up with means to block key words. For example, said Dunn, an adult sex site may use hundreds of key words like "cars" so that the X-rated sites pop up under the most innocuous of searches. The keywords, he explained, are not visible on the website pages but are contained in the background text — something that can be found by going to the "view source" icon at the top of the screen. This, said Dunn, is referred to as "spamming" or "spamdexing" and what may work for one search engine may be excluded from another as engine administrators wise-up to the tricks. Dunn said he has been researching what works for various search engines for the last three years. That too keeps changing as one company swallows up another. He said he works at keeping abreast of trends in the industry. He predominantly works with six key search engines — Excite, AOL, Hotbot, MSN, Lycos and Infoseek. "Ninety per cent of the time I can get sites into the top 20 on a search engine," said Dunn. He said his business is tailored to meet individual needs compared to automated on-line services which simply submit a site to perhaps 500 different search engines — cheap but with marginal results. Dunn said he got into the business after building a site for Prince of Whales Whale Watching in Victoria where he worked as a skipper for the company. He found he had a knack but, although the site was "fantastic," it was not getting the traffic. "I had to learn how to promote it." Dunn said the Prince of Whales now has a very powerful internet presence. "It went from nothing to the biggest whale watching website on the internet." Website promotion is a new field, said Dunn. And like other high-tech professionals moving into town, he finds Whistler an ideal spot to do business.

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