Welcome to part seven in this ten-part search engine positioning series. Last week we discussed the importance of human testing. In part seven we will cover the best practices of website submissions, where to submit your website to, and how to do so.
With services offering to help you get more traffic and higher search engine positioning by submitting your website to “18 Bazillion Search Engines For Just $19.95 Per Month!” and other such claims, there has grown much confusion around website submissions. In this article we will clear up many of the misconceptions around submitting your website and may even save you “Just $19.95 Per Month!” in the process.
Over this series we will cover the ten key aspects to a solid search engine positioning campaign.
The Ten Steps We Will Go Through Are:
- Keyword Selection – October 24, 2004
- Content – October 31, 2004
- Site Structure – November 7, 2004
- Optimization – November 14, 2004
- Internal Linking – November 21, 2004
- Human Testing – November 29, 2004
- Submissions – December 5, 2004
- Link Building – December 12, 2004
- Monitoring – December 19, 2004
- The Extras – December 28, 2004
Step Seven – Website Submissions
While there are definitely more critical areas of the website optimization process there is perhaps no area subject to as much misinformation and to such a vast audience. Here are some common misconceptions that are often believed about search engine submissions:
- You need to submit your website often to keep it indexed by the search engines
- You need to submit your website to thousands and thousands of search engines to get decent traffic
- Submitting your website often will keep you at the top of the search engine rankings
These beliefs are all incorrect and those who can make a quick buck selling this disservice perpetrate them. If you have not recently received an email offering to “Submit Your Website To More Search Engines Than There Are Websites On The Internet For Just $19.95 Per Month!” then I can pretty much guarantee that you will in the not-too-distant future if your email can be found somewhere on your website.
An irony of this can be found in Google’s webmaster area where they note:
Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”
Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.
Good advice as I’m sure Google has their website submissions taken care of. Just because you receive such an email, doesn’t mean that you’re missing out on anything. Let’s first look at a breakdown of which engines are responsible for which traffic.
According to research the major search engines are responsible for the following percentages of traffic as of June 2004:
Google – 41.6%
Yahoo! – 31.5%
MSN – 27.4% (MSN draws their results from Yahoo!/Overture)
AOL – 13.6% (AOL draws their results from Google)
Ask Jeeves – 7.0%
Lycos – 3.7%
Netscape – 3.0% (Netscape draws their results from Google)
AltaVista – 2.7% (AltaVista draws the Yahoo!/Overture)
Note: These numbers total over 100% as people may use multiple search engines if they don’t find the information they are looking for at the first one they try.
So what does this tell us? This tells us that the very vast majority of search engine traffic does not come from many thousands of search engines but rather, relatively few. This would lead to the obvious questions, “Is it worth paying to be submitted to thousands of search engines?” The real answer, “No.”
Then How Do I Submit My Own Website?
Automated search engine submission systems simply access the existing and readily accessible “Add URL” pages of the search engines and automatically submit your site. You can do this yourself simply by visiting the search engines and submitting through these same pages.
To simplify this process you can visit the “search engines” page of the Beanstalk Internet Marketing website where we link directly to the submissions pages of the major engines.
But What About The Other Engines? Surely They Provide Some Traffic?
Quite honestly, they may. You may get a visitor or two. Is it worth $19.95/mth or some such amount? No. You can get a better dollar/visitor ratio on any of the many PPC engines out there.
An additional point to note is that you may want to actually visit some of the lists of engines on the sites offering these services to you. You will discover a couple of important facts:
- Many of these so-called “search engines” are not engines at all but rather FFA (Free-For-All) pages and classified ads sites. They will not help your rankings, you will not see traffic from them and your listing will probably last about as long as spam in your Inbox.
- Many of the actual search engines and directories are topical. What this means is that they are focused on a single area and unless your site coincidentally is about space exploration, topographical mapping, etc. you won’t get listed. Submitting should not be confused with “guaranteed listing”. Submitting your site to thousands of engines is not the same as getting your website indexed on thousands of engines.
The Submission Myth
The truth of that matter is, submitting your website at all can realistically be considered a waste of time. Aside from a few key general directories (DMOZ, Yahoo!, etc.) and a number of SEO directories, we did not submit the website www.beanstalkim.com to any of the major search engines. It’s true, not a single submission.
Are we indexed? Yes we are.
How did we get indexed without submitting our site? If you take the time that you would be spending submitting your site and spend it instead finding quality inbound links (which we will write about next week) your site will be indexed and much quicker than you think.
You’ve probably heard the term “search engine spider”. Search engines crawl websites. This means that they visit a page, follow all the links on that page and so on. If you have a link on a website that is already known to the search engines it is only a matter of time before your website will be found by default. In fact, when the Beanstalk site went live and the first link was established to it, it did not take the weeks that are estimated through the use of the submissions pages for our site to be found. The homepage of beanstalkim.com was index by Google three days after the site went live and the other major engines followed within a week or so.
If there are any points that I hope you take away from this article they are the following:
- Automated search engine submissions services are not worth the money they charge.
- You do not need to be submitted to thousands of “search engines”. The vast majority of traffic comes from the top few.
- You will want to consider whether it is even worth the time to submit to search engines or whether that time could be better spent building quality, relevant links to your site and submitting your site to the major and topical directories.
An additional failing to the automated submissions systems not covered above is their inability to take into consideration the exact characteristics of your website for their directory submissions. When you’re submitting your website to directories you will have to choose the exact category your site falls into. Most directories have slightly different category hierarchies and the more exact you are in your submission, the higher the chance you will be listed. Automated systems can never be as exact across multiple directories as a human can.
Submitting your website, even correctly, will not guarantee you top rankings however it will leave you with money in your pocket to spend on other promotional endeavors that may actually produce a solid ROI. And THAT’S what it’s all about.
The rankings? You’ll have to read the other nine steps of the series to find out how to attain those.
In part eight of this search engine positioning series we will cover the importance of link building, how to attain high quality, relevant links to your website, and the tools to reduce the time it takes to do so significantly. With the importance of inbound links to your overall rankings you won’t want to miss this very important step in the website optimization process.