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Home-Web design & development-Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Submission Tips

Essentials of Search Engine Submission

Intro To Search Engine Submission

How can I get my site listed with search engines? It sounds like a pretty simple question, but sadly, search engine submission can be a complicated subject.

Have no fear. This guide will take you through the essential and relatively easy steps you can take to get listed with search engines.

Before we begin, it's important to make a distinction between search engine submission and search engine optimization. These terms, along with others, are sometimes used synonymously to discuss different efforts to promote sites on search engines. However, within this section of Search Engine Watch, they will be used to refer to some very specific activities.

Search Engine Submission: Getting Listed

"Search engine submission" refers to the act of getting your web site listed with search engines. Another term for this is search engine registration.

Getting listed does not mean that you will necessarily rank well for particular terms, however. It simply means that the search engine knows your pages exist.

Think of it like a lottery. Search engine submission is akin to you purchasing a lottery ticket. Having a ticket doesn't mean that you will win, but you must have a ticket to have any chance at all.

Search Engine Optimization: Improving The Odds

"Search engine optimization" refers to the act of altering your site so that it may rank well for particular terms, especially with crawler-based search engines (what these are will be explained later in this guide).

Returning to the lottery model, let's assume there was a way to increase the odds of winning by picking your lottery numbers carefully. Search engine optimization is akin to this. It's making sure that the numbers you select are more likely to win than purchasing a set of numbers at random.

Search Engine Placement & Positioning: Ranking Well

Terms such as "search engine placement," "search engine positioning" and "search engine ranking" refer to a site actually doing well for particular terms or for a range of terms at search engines. This is the ultimate goal for many people -- to get that "top ten" ranking for a particular keyword or search terms.

Search Engine Optimization: Improving The Odds

Search Engine Marketing & Promotion: The Overall Process

Terms such as "search engine marketing" or "search engine promotion" refer to the overall process of marketing a site on search engines. This includes submission, optimization, managing paid listings and more.

These terms also highlight the fact that doing well with search engines is not just about submitting right, optimizing well or getting a good rank for a particular term. It's about the overall job of improving how your site interacts with search engines, so that the audience you seek can find you.

On To Submission

The next few "essentials" pages cover the basics of search engine submission. If all you do is the instructions on these essentials pages, you'll receive traffic from search engines. However, if you have time, you should also read beyond the essentials to understand how optimization can increase your traffic and other ways you can market your site with search engines.

Links along the way will explain where and how you can learn more within Search Engine Watch, should you have the desire. Some of the in-depth information is only available to Search Engine Watch members. See the membership information page to learn more about becoming a member.

Your Search Engine Submission Budget

Despite the rise in "paid participation" programs offered by search engines (as explained more on the Buying Your Way In: Search Engine Advertising Chart page), free search engine submission is still possible. However, using the paid programs that are offered will speed up the listing process and almost certainly generate more search engine related traffic for your web site.

Given this, it is highly recommended that any site owner establish a search engine submission budget. This is true whether you are running a commercial web site, a "hobbyist" site in your own time or a site for a non-profit organization.

The Minimum Budget: Yahoo

How much to budget? At minimum, you MAY want to cover submission to Yahoo's human-compiled directory for one year. This is because the flat $300 annual fee that Yahoo charges may help ensure that major crawler-based search engines pick up your home page quickly.

Huh? Pay to be in human-compiled results in hopes of influencing crawlers? Crawlers analyze links from across the web to decide which pages they should pick up and potentially rank well. Being listed in Yahoo's human-compiled directory is potentially one of the best links you can gain, to influence crawlers.

It may be that crawlers will find your page and perhaps rank it well even without the benefit of a Yahoo link. So if money is tight, wait two or three months after you launch your site and see how you do. If you still aren't doing well with crawlers, then spending the money with Yahoo may help you.

I Need To Be Listed Fast!

Often, those who launch new web sites want to appear in search engines right away. A key way to do this is by using paid placement programs, as explained further in this guide.

The budget below will get you going for at least a month, in most cases. After that, it may be that you'll have some "natural" or "free" listings appearing. When this happens, you could potentially stop doing advertising -- though a wiser course is to continue with advertising as insurance against potential problems with your free listings.

Paid Listings Budget
Overture (GoTo) $50
Google $25
Total $75

Bottom Line

Now let's put it all together. Here's the ideal amount you would budget, if you want to show up in the widest range of important search engines within a matter of days:

Search Engine Submission Budget
Yahoo $300
Paid Listings $75
Total $375

Again, you can get listed without spending a penny, as will be explained on the following pages. However, if your goal is to be seen right away in as many places as possible, you'll set aside the amount shown above, in the combined budget.

Submitting To Directories: Yahoo & The Open Directory

Directories are search engines powered by human beings. Human editors compile all the listings that directories have. Getting listed with the web's key directories is very important, because their listings are seen by many people. In addition, if you are listed with them, then crawler-based search engines are more likely to find your site and add it to their listings for free.


You should prepare before submitting to any directory. This preparation means that you have written a 25 word or less description of your entire web site. That description should make use of the two or three key terms that you hope to be found for.

If you have time, you should consider researching what are the best terms for your site, rather than guessing at these. The What People Search For page has a list of resources that will allow you to do such research.

It is essential that the description you write not make use of marketing language. So, if you sold shoes and wanted to be found for terms such as "athletic shoes" and "running shoes," you might write a "just the facts" description like this:

Purchase athletic shoes, running shoes, hiking boots and other footwear plus try our cross country trail finder.

You would not want a description like this, which is full of marketing hype, which editors dislike:

World's LARGEST online shoe store with the best prices from the greatest brands!!!!

Submitting To Yahoo

Do a search on Yahoo, and the main results that come back are "powered" by Yahoo's crawler (see the Search Engine Results page for what "main" results are). Despite this, Yahoo maintains its own independent "directory" of web sites, which are compiled by its human editors. As mentioned in Part 2, being listed in this Yahoo Directory MAY potentially help you get included and ranking better in crawler-based results, including Yahoo's.

Yahoo has two submission options: "Standard," which is free, and "Yahoo Express," which involves a submission fee.

Anyone can use Standard submission to submit for free to a non-commercial category. You'll know the category is non-commercial because if you try to submit to a non-commercial category, the Standard submission option will be offered in addition to the Yahoo Express paid option, discussed further below.

Why might you choose to pay when the free search engine submission option is available? Simply for a fast turnaround time. If you use the free submit choice, there's no guarantee that your submission will be reviewed quickly or at all.

Your submission to a non-commercial category is more likely to be accepted if your content is not overtly commercial. For example, submitting the home page of a site that sells running shoes is likely to be seen a commercial and not accepted. However, if you have a page within that web site that discusses in depth how to select the right type of shoes for different running races, then that page might be deemed helpful, non-commercial information and accepted.

As for commercial categories, Yahoo requires that sites pay a Yahoo Express submission fee of $300 (well, $299) per year. This fee doesn't guarantee that you will be listed, only that you'll get a yes or no answer about being accepted within seven business days. However, the vast majority of most decent sites are accepted.

If accepted, you'll be reevaluated after a year and charged the submission fee again, if you want to stay in Yahoo's commercial area. You should review the traffic you received from Yahoo over the past year, to decide if it is worth paying the fee again. If not, you can decline to be listed, and you will not be charged.

But what about crawlers? If you originally signed up with Yahoo hoping to influence crawlers, won't dropping your Yahoo directory listing cause you to be dropped by the crawlers? Not necessarily. The crawlers will keep listing your site on its own. Whether page's within the site will rank it well is a separate question. However, after a year of existence, your web site may have other important links pointing at it. This means that losing your link from Yahoo may not have much of an impact on your ranking. If money is tight, you could try dropping the Yahoo listing and only submit again if you find it does have an impact with how you rank in crawler-based results.

The annual fee only applies to commercial categories. If you submit to a non-commercial category using Yahoo Express and get accepted into that area, the fee is charged only once, not on an annual basis. You might get the opposite impression, because you'll keep seeing references to "recurring annual fee." However, in the terms and conditions for Yahoo Express, the annual fee is only for sites in the Yahoo Commercial Directory.

How do you submit? If you are submitting for free to a non-commercial category, click on the "Suggest a Site" link that appears at the top right-hand corner of category page. That will bring up a submission form. Fill it out, and you're done.

If you are paying to submit, you needn't pick a category. Instead, just use the Yahoo Express Submission Form. From there, Yahoo editors will choose a category for you. All you need to do is fill out the form that's presented.

The above Tips are the bare essentials to getting listed with Yahoo. If you are in a hurry, you can follow them, and you'll probably get listed and receive some traffic from the service. However, you may want to do even more preparation before submitting to this important service.

Search Engine Watch members have access to a detailed How Yahoo Works page that guides you even more through the process. It explains why it is better to select a category, rather than leaving it to Yahoo's editors, if you are using the Yahoo Express service. It also explains more about the relationship in being listed in the Yahoo Directory and its impact on crawler-based results. To learn more about becoming a member to access this information, visit the membership information page.

Alternatively, you might consider working with a search engine optimization company which has experience in submitting to Yahoo. You'll have to pay for their services, but the price may be worth it in relation to the additional traffic you'll receive from a carefully conducted submission to Yahoo. Search Engine Watch members have access to the Outsourcing Search Engine Marketing page that lists articles about selecting search engine optimization companies.

Submitting To The Open Directory

The Open Directory is a volunteer-built guide to the web. It is provided as an option at many major search engines, including Google (see the Search Engine Results page for a full list). Given this, being listed with the Open Directory is essential to any site owner.

The good news is that submission is absolutely free. The bad news is that this means there's no guaranteed turnaround time to getting a yes or no answer about whether you've been accepted.

To submit, locate the category you want to be listed in. Then use the "add URL" link that appears at the top of the category page. Fill out the form, and that's it -- you've submitted.

If you are accepted, you should see your site appear within about three weeks. If this doesn't happen, then you should resubmit.

As with Yahoo, it's highly recommended that you take the time to learn more about the Open Directory before submitting, in order to maximize the amount of traffic you may receive.

Search Engine Watch members have access to a detailed How The Open Directory Works page that guides you even more through the process of submitting to that directory. To learn more about becoming a member to access this information, visit the membership information page.

Submitting To Crawlers: Google, Yahoo, Ask/Teoma & Microsoft's MSN

Crawler-based search engines automatically visit web pages to compile their listings. This means that, unlike directories, you are likely to have several if not many pages listed with them. This also means that by taking care in how you build your pages, you might rank well in crawler-produced results.

Optimizing pages for crawlers is covered more in the Optimizing For Crawlers section of Search Engine Watch. If you have time, it is recommended that you read the pages in this section, especially the Search Engine Placement Tips page. However, by simply following the submission Tips below, you can at least get your pages listed with crawlers, where they might naturally rank well for certain terms.

Submitting To Google

One of the most important crawler-based search engines is Google, because many people search at it, plus it "powers" the main results of several other services (see the Search Engine Results Chart for what "main" results are).

The absolute best way to get listed with Google is to build links to your web site. Indeed, this is the best way to get listed for free with all the major crawlers listed on this page. Crawlers follow links, so if you have good links pointing at your web site, the crawlers are more likely to find and include your pages.

Here's the good news: if you submitted your site to the major directories and got listed with one of them, then Google and other crawlers will almost certainly pick up the URL that was listed. This means you may not need to do additional work to get listed with crawlers.

Nevertheless, you may find it helpful to do some link building beyond the directories. Basic Tips on building good links are covered on the Search Engine Placement Tips page, while the Link Analysis & Link Building page available to Search Engine Watch members provides in-depth advice on building relevant links to your web site. Consider reading what's covered on one or both of these pages.

The Submitting & Encouraging Crawlers page available to Search Engine Watch members also has advice on how your site architecture can be improved to naturally allow more of your pages to be added by crawlers.

Aside from link building, Google provides an Add URL page that lets you submit a URL directly to its crawler. There's no guarantee that Google will actually include a URL submitted to it this way, however. Despite this, it makes sense to submit your home page and perhaps one or two other URLs from "inside" your web site via the Add URL page.

You really don't need to submit more than this. The only reason for submitting some of your inside pages is in case there is a problem reaching your home page. This gives Google an alternate route into your site. From whatever page it visits, it will look for links to other pages that you have and perhaps include those. This is true for other crawlers, as well.

If you have a brand new web site, it will probably take about a month before Google lists your web pages. Because of this, you might consider making use of its paid placement program, which is covered in the next part of this guide.

Finally, Search Engine Watch members have access to a detailed How Google Works page that guides you even more through the process of submitting to the crawler and ranking well within its results. To learn more about becoming a member to access this information, visit the membership information page.

Submitting To Yahoo

Yahoo is an important crawler-based search engine because many people use the Yahoo site and it provides main results of several other services (see the Search Engine Results Chart for more about this).

As covered with Google, building links is the best way to get listed for free. Yahoo also offers a free URL submission form that you'll find listed on this page. Submit according to the same instructions as for Google, above.

What if you aren't picked up for free? Yahoo has paid inclusion programs that guarantee to add the pages you submit quickly. The downside to these programs is that you'll be charged every time someone clicks on your listing. If you run out of money, potentially, your listing may be dropped. However, there's still a chance that even if you run out of money, you might continue to be listed for free.

Confused? You're to be forgiven, if so. The programs are so complex that beginners are not recommended to bother with them. Instead, there's a good chance that many pages in your site will just naturally get listed for free.

By the way, Yahoo's crawler incorporates technology from three different crawlers that it purchased in 2002 and 2003: Inktomi, AltaVista and FAST's AllTheWeb. Any references you hear about those crawlers are now superceded by the single Yahoo crawler that operates.

Submitting To Teoma

Teoma is an important crawler-based search engine because it powers the main of the results that appear at the popular Ask Jeeves web site (see the Search Engine Results Chart). In fact, Ask Jeeves owns Teoma.

Teoma has no free Add URL page. This doesn't mean that you can't get listed, however. Teoma crawls the web, so if you have links pointing at your web site, you may get included naturally

Basic Tips on building good links are covered on the Search Engine Placement Tips page, while the Link Analysis & Link Building page available to Search Engine Watch members provides in-depth advice on building relevant links to your web site. Consider reading what's covered on one or both of these pages, to help yourself with Teoma.

Submitting To MSN

MSN Search is an important crawler-based search engine used by many people. It is currently powered by Yahoo's crawler-based results. However, by the end of 2004, a new crawler-based search engine being developed by Microsoft should be taking over.

That new Microsoft search engine is already available to the public in a limited fashion. More about it, and how it relates to the current MSN service, can be found in this article from Search Engine Watch: MSN Search Gets New Look; Microsoft Gets New Search Engine.

Submitting Via Paid Listings: Overture & Google AdWords

Every major search engine with significant traffic accepts paid listings. This unique form of search engine advertising means that you can be guaranteed to appear in the top results for the terms you are interested in within a day or less. Given this, paid listings are an option that should be explored by site owners who wish to quickly build visibility. They may also be a long-term advertising option for some.


Overture allows sites to "bid" on the terms they wish to appear for. You agree to pay a certain amount each time someone clicks on your listing. This is why it is sometimes called a "pay-per-click" (PPC) or a "cost-per-click" (CPC) search engine.

For instance, let's say you wanted to appear in the top listings for "running shoes." You might agree to pay 25 cents per click. If no one agrees to pay more than this, then you would be in the number one spot. If someone else later decides to pay 26 cents, then you slip into the number two position. You could then bid 27 cents and move back on top, if you wanted to.

While some people go directly to the Overture web site to search, most people encounter Overture's paid listings via other search engines. For example, the very top listings for "running shoes" at Overture would also appear in the sponsored areas of other sites. A full list of Overture's wide-ranging partnerships can be found on the Buying Your Way In: Search Engine Advertising Chart page.

If your goal is to build visibility on search engines quickly, then Overture is an essential option for you to explore. It can put you in the top results of many major search engines in a short period of time.

I think it is well worth it for anyone to open an Overture precision match account and experiment with how paid listings may help them. An account requires a $50 minimum deposit, and you must spend at least $20 per month. By carefully selecting targeted terms, you can stretch that money out for one or two months and get quality traffic.

When your initial deposit has expired, you may find that the editorial or "free" listings generated by your submissions to directories and crawlers have kicked in. This may mean that you can eliminate your ad spend with Overture entirely. On the other hand, you may find that you want to continue spending and perhaps even increase your budget, to target terms where you don't receive good editorial placement.

Search Engine Watch members have access to a detailed How Overture Works page that guides you even more through the process of getting started with the service. To learn more about becoming a member to access this information, visit the membership information page.

By the way, Overture was formerly known as GoTo. It changed its name in mid-Oct 2001. The company was also purchased by Yahoo in 2003.

Google AdWords

Google sells paid listings that appear above and to the right-hand side of its regular results called through a program called Google AdWords. Since it may take time for a new site to appear within Google, these advertising opportunities offer a fast way to get listed with the service. Also, as with Overture, they may be a continuing option you may wish to explore.

Google's self-service AdWords program charges a per click fee, similar to Overture. AdWords charges a $5 activation fee, and $25 ought to last you about a month, if you've carefully selected your terms.

Google also distributes its ads to other partners, with some major sites listed on the Search Results Chart. That provides you with exposure to more potential traffic.

Search Engine Watch members have access to a detailed How Google Works page that guides you even more through the process of how AdWords operates. To learn more about becoming a member to access this information, visit the membership information page.

End Of The Essentials

That's it to the essentials of search engine submission. If you've followed the Tips listed so far -- even if only the ones described in Part 3 -- then you'll be receiving traffic from search engines. However, if you "optimize" your web site, then you are likely to get even more traffic from search engines. If you have more time, keep following the "Next" buttons to learn more about search engine optimization.

Source:, by Danny Sullivan

11 Mar, 2005

What also might be interesting for you:

» 01. Why do I do it?
» 02. What can I do for you?
» 03. My last web-project
» 04. References
» 05a. Color Blender: Adapted
» 06. Creatiff
» 07. Search Engine Submission Tips
» 08. Google Pagerank - Frequently Asked Questions

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Vitaly Friedman
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