2nd Quarter 2003
Registering your website
Your website can be one of your top producing marketing tools, but only if people find it.
One of the best ways to get new, interested prospects to your site is getting onto the search sites or search engines - such as Google, Yahoo, Overture and Ask Jeeves. People use search sites when they are looking for a product or service, but don't know where to find it. It is up to you to get your site listed.
While some search sites go out and look for new sites, it can take a long time before they find yours. It is far better to submit your site than to wait. Even then it can take anywhere from three weeks to several months before your site appears.
In this article we will concentrate on the different types of search sites and what you need to do to get listed.
Let's begin with the two types of search site, the "Directory" and the "Search Engine".
The directory is a searchable index of websites, all of which have been submitted for inclusion. The two most famous directories are Yahoo and DMOZ, also known as "The Open Directory Project". Directories are human-edited, that means every site submitted must be reviewed by an "editor" who can decide whether it is indexed or not. There are also a number of directories specific to niche industries such as "expert witnesses", "medicine", and many others.
Each directory has a set of guidelines for submissions that can be found on their websites.
A program that searches documents for specified keywords and returns a list of the documents where the keywords were found. Although "search engine" is really a general class of programs, the term is often used to specifically describe systems like Google and Excite that enable users to search for documents on the World Wide Web.
Typically, a search engine works by sending out a spider (a computer program which searches the web for websites) to fetch as many documents as possible. Another program, called an indexer, then reads these documents and creates an index based on the words contained in each document. Each search engine uses a proprietary algorithm to create its indices such that, ideally, only meaningful results are returned for each query.
There are literally thousands of search engines, some covering specific areas and others covering the entire web.
Submitting Your Site:
Now that you know what they are, how do you get your site listed?
Let's look at the directories first. Directories are a bit more complex to get on than search engines. Because they are edited and indexed by real people, they expect you to do some of the work as far as categorizing and describing the site.
Your first step when you get to a directory is to find what category your site should be listed under. When registering a client to a directory, I usually do this by searching on some of the client's keywords and seeing if the results produce competitors' sites. Once you have chosen the category, find the "submit" link and fill out the form. You will need to have your site information ready. (You'll need some or all of the following: URL (with the http://), page title, description of site, company name, contact name, email)
Once the form is completed and submitted, it can take from three weeks to several months before the listing appears.
DMOZ, which also supplies listings to AOL Search, DirectHit, HotBot, Google, Lycos, Netscape Search and others, is free. We highly recommend registering to this site.
Yahoo, which was one of the first search sites on the web and is still one of the most used, now charges $299 per year for a listing. It is important to be listed on Yahoo but might not be a priority depending on your budget.
Industry specific directories can be very valuable but before you spend lots of time and money on these, it would be a good idea to talk to your current clients and find out which search engines or directories they use to find things. This should lead you to which will be the most important for you.
Most search engines make it easy, though not always cheap, for you to register a site. You will usually find a link on the home page of a search engine asking you to "submit a site", suggest a site", "add a URL" or something similar.
Click the link and follow the instructions give. Usually search engines ask only for the URL (with the http://), your email and possibly a description.
Some sites have a security feature to prevent people from "spamming the site". This usually consists of a list of letters and numbers in a variety of fonts that you need to retype. The key to this is case sensitivity.
Registration on some search engines is free (Alta Vista, Google, MSN), while others charge for submissions (Lycos, Looksmart, Excite, Inktomi). This is just a representative list, there are a lot more search engines.
You can find a list of many search engines and directories, with links to the submission pages at http://www.citycent.com/search_reg.htm.
One final note, if your site is already on a search engine, re-registering it will not improve the ranking. It is determined by site content, site titles, META tags (informational data unseen by the reader but read by search engines), and links from other sites. We will cover this more in future issues.
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