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Submitting your site to search engines and directories

Why bother? Well, you don't really have to, but there are a number of good reasons to submit to at least a couple.
It's worth breaking this topic into two.

Search Engines

Firstly, do not subscribe to any scheme that tells you they'll submit your site / pages for you. They may do exactly what they say they'll do (ie. try to submit your site to hundreds of search engine databases) but it will get you nowhere (other than getting you more spam). It could even work against you.
Secondly, the rules and sometimes even the players change every few months. If you do a search on any search engine for this topic you will get all sorts of excellent information (scattered amongst the scams) but, unfortunately, most of it is out of date.
Depending on your (geographical) market you may wish to submit to several search engines (for free). In Australia at the time of writing this (mid 2004) that means:
*   Google;
*   Yahoo; and
*   MSN (Hotmail) (At the moment there is no free submission to MSN but there are ways around this - send me an email for more detail).
Once you've submitted, it can take a while for the 'bots (robots) to come but it's still not a bad idea to submit to these.



The biggest directory on the web is free and goes under a couple of names:
They are the same thing but are generally refered to as 'The ODP' (even though the website address is http://dmoz.org).
It is (still) worth submitting your site to the ODP. I used the word 'still' because it's not as important as it used to be. Google used to rate a listing in the ODP quite highly - and they still do but to a lesser degree - because a listing in the ODP has been quality assured (to some degree) by a real live human being.
Humans make mistakes, have attitudes and differing opinions and volunteers never have enough time to do what they volunteered to do. The ODP is staffed almost entirely of volunteer editors. There are rules as far as where things should be placed (categories) but there is a heirarchy (or at least some editors have more power than others) and some of those at the top seem to pay little attention to the changes that have been agreed upon amongst the ranks.
There are quite specific guidelines as to how you should submit your site. If you have a 'bricks and mortar' business then the best bet is to submit to the regional category where your office is physically located. If you have a hobby site then find the category that fits your main topic. (If you know of a site that has a simlilar topic as yours, look for it in the ODP and submit to the same category.)
Make a note to yourself that you have submitted your site into category 'xyz' and file it somewhere you'll be able to find it in a few months' time.
The main reason for this is to avoid re-submitting. There are a squillion million websites in existence and it can take a very long time before anyone at the ODP looks at your site (several months is the norm). Most ODP editors do not like it when you submit your site multiple times in the one category, or if you try lots of different categories. It increases their workload so it's understandable.
If you do submit and are not sure what's going on, or you want to find out more before you submit, try the ODP public forum.

Other Directories

Yahoo has its own directory as does Google. In most cases Yahoo's directory is not free. Until recently they allowed unpaid entries for non-profit organisations but on my last visit looking for this form of submission I could not find this service.
Google provides for free submission but, if you've submitted to the ODP and been accepted, Google will find you soon enough.
There are a whole host of small "niche" directories on the web. Submitting to these is a precarious business, in the same way that submitting to the mass of "search engines" is not such a good idea.
Many of these directories are tarnished with the same brush as the low-quality search engines. Again, this is a gut-feel kind of area. If you like the look and feel of the directory and it is highly topic specific (your topic) and particularly regionally relevant (caters to your country at least), then you may want to start by sending them an email (not a submission) and see what kind of response you get (if any!).

What did I do?

I submitted my first site(s) into the ODP and to Google (and I looked at other search engines but was not prepared to pay the price) and..... nothing happened..... "Wait!" they said..... and they were correct, eventually the robots and the people started to come and then..... more robots! (But not too many people yet). [I eventually did pay for a few page listings at $25 USD a pop but that service (provided by Inktomi) is no longer available.]
I have subsequently submitted my site to a couple of regional (Australian) business directories. I sometimes also submit my customer's sites to topic specific directories, especially if they are also regionally specific.
[Content of this page last reviewed: 9-Jul-2004]
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