Surviving the Submission Jungle

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One of my favorite “scams that won’t die” are the companies that drop SPAM into my inbox every week offering to submit my website to “thousands” of search engines for the low low price of $20 a month.

If you want to get the most out of your search engine submission time, there are exactly eight (8) places where your site needs to be found. That’s 5 crawling search engine databases, and 3 directories. Before we get into the strategies you can use, here is the lineup:

The Crawling Search Engines:
1. Google (powers Google)
2. Inktomi (powers MSN, AOL, Hotbot, IWon… and others)
3. FAST/AllTheWeb (powers AllTheWeb.com and Lycos.com)
4. Altavista (powers Altavista)
5. Wisenut (powers Wisenut, may be feeding Teoma/Ask.com)

The Directories:
1. Yahoo!
2. Looksmart
3. Open Directory

** Crawling Search Engine Strategy #1:
Let ’em find you Getting into all 5 major crawling search engine databases (there are no others worth your time) can be done easily – just get enough other sites to link to yours, and they’ll find you… it took less than 2 weeks for all of them to find and crawl my new site last fall.

** Crawling Search Engine Strategy #2:
Buy your way in! Altavista and Inktomi offer “paid inclusion” programs, where you pay them a fee and they keep your site’s listing up to date. It isn’t cheap. Altavista’s program costs $39 every six months for a single URL, and Inktomi’s is $39 a year for the same thing. My advice is to buy Inktomi’s service for your site’s main page, if you just can’t wait for them to find you.

Altavista Paid Inclusion:

Inktomi Paid Inclusion:

** Crawling Search Engine Strategy #3:
Free submission I think submitting pages to search engines is a waste of time. Most search engines actually rank your pages higher if they find them on their own, and at least one of them (Google) won’t include your pages until they find at least one link to your domain.

However, since I know you can’t resist the temptation, here are the 5 places to submit your site for free:
1. Google http://www.google.com/addurl.html
2. Inktomi http://hotbot.lycos.com/addurl.asp
3. FAST http://www.alltheweb.com/add_url.php
4. Altavista http://addurl.altavista.com/sites/addurl/newurl
5. Wisenut http://www.wisenut.com/submitsite.html

** Directories: Who Feeds Who
The Yahoo! directory is the most important – a Yahoo! listing is said to be worth the equivalent of 100 link swaps, in terms of how it affects your search engine rankings. It now costs $299 a year to get a commercial site listed… and that’s only if it’s good enough to be included – the first $299 is paid up-front, and they keep it even if they don’t list your site.

The Looksmart Directory (http://www.looksmart.com) is important “right now” because the MSN search portal (which is plugged into Internet Explorer by default) uses a combination of Looksmart results, DirectHit rankings, and Inktomi search results. If your site is not in Looksmart, you won’t rank well on MSN.

Looksmart charges a one-time fee of $299 to review your site. If MSN ever stops using Looksmart’s database, your listing won’t be worth much – Looksmart.com itself gets minimal traffic.

A non-commercial site can be submitted to Looksmart through Zeal (http://www.zeal.com), which is free, but time-consuming – you have to take a test! It’s easier to find someone who is already a “Zealot” and ask them to submit it for you.

The Open Directory (http://www.dmoz.org) is, unfortunately, the hardest to get into – because it’s run by an all-volunteer work force, there’s no telling when (or if) a submitted site will be reviewed. They ought to offer a low-cost paid submission option and give the money to their volunteer editors… but they don’t.

Open Directory results affect your rankings on Google, AOL, and just about everywhere else. It doesn’t carry quite the weight of a Yahoo! listing, but it’s close.

All 3 of the major directories have rules on submitting your site. Since Yahoo! and Looksmart both charge $299 just to look at your site, you had better make sure your site is in tip-top condition before you submit, and you had better follow all of the rules exactly.

My advice is to submit to any directory you can afford to be in. Yahoo! at $299 a year doesn’t make sense for everyone, nor does Looksmart. The Open Directory is free, so of course you’ll want to submit to them.

** Why I Never Submit To Search Engines!
As for submitting to the search engines, you know my position on this: work on getting links from other sites, and let the search engines find you… unless you’re ready to pay for inclusion.

I know you’re itching to get your site listed, and won’t believe me when I tell you it’s actually faster if you don’t submit.

Here’s a compromise: submit your home page to everyone except Google, then get to work on incoming links. If you get even 20 links set up, I’ll bet the Googlebot finds you before the other search engines get around to visiting you. Once you’ve been through this exercise, I doubt you’ll ever submit a site again.

Dan Thies is a well-known writer and teacher on search engine marketing. He offers consulting, training, and coaching for webmasters, business owners, SEO/SEM consultants, and other marketing professionals through his company, SEO Research Labs. His next online class will be a link building clinic beginning March 22

Surviving the Submission Jungle
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