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Search Engines and Directories: Submission Guide
Contributor: Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable®

You've spent a lot of time and energy in making your web site a great Internet destination, and
paid particular attention to usability issues and ensured your site works in your target browsers. The next big lesson is that it doesn't matter how great your site is, if nobody knows about it all your efforts are for nothing.

Search Engines and Directories
There are two types of sites that index web pages that will bring more visitors to your web site than through any other means. These are search engines and web directories.

Search engines are web sites like Google dedicated to
providing quick results to a search query. Search engines often use automated processes to index sites (more about this later).

Directories like Yahoo! employ editors (real people) to select and maintain web sites on a directory that classifies web sites into categories. Visitors can enter a search query or browse the directory.

There are advantages to both approaches and one may well be more appropriate for a particular search query than another.

Less is More
Spend time researching what search engines and directories you wish to submit your web site to. There's little point in appearing on a directory where most who use that directory won't be interested in the content your site offers. AbleStable® limits it's formal submissions to the most popular engines and directories. If we find ourselves on others we know we've been recommenced and the best redirection of all is through recommendation.

Check First!
You must first check your site is not on the search engine or directories database (another reason to avoid submission software). Beware, if you pay Yahoo! $299 to appear at Yahoo.com you won't get your money back if your sites already listed. Furthermore, many indexing sites take a dim view of repeated submissions and will view this action as 'Spam'.

Improving Visibility
Sites like Google will 'spider' or 'crawl' web sites (automated Internet programs that search, log, and categorise web sites according to a specific set of unknown criteria).

There are volumes written about what you should have on your web pages to be best reported by these spiders and 'crawlers'. The best advice we can give is to be ethical in your submissions: don't try to cheat your site into a higher placement, it won't work, you'll be found out and your site will be barred, not just from one but a whole host of indexing sites that constantly share information about submission abusers.

Ensure your web site offers high quality content, is attractive, and easy to use. Keep these three principles at the forefront of your mind and you'll not go far wrong.

Avoid Automated Submissions
There are many search engine submission products available to ease the burden of time on web developers and site owners. Be careful, be very careful. Many sites such as Yahoo! actively penalise automated submissions. They want a real person entering relevant information and will view your site negatively if you do not make the effort to personally submit your site.

Keywords, Meta Tags and More
You'll find an article completely dedicated to META Tags at AbleStable® (The Mystery of the Meta Tag). Essentially Meta tags define the web page and it's content, and they can help a great deal in ensuring your site is appropriately listed (Meta Tags remain unseen in a browser unless you view the source HTML code).

Meta Tags carry page descriptions, keywords (also useful for implementing site search engines), page authorship and much more. By ensuring your Meta Tags are accurate your users will benefit, but it is unwise to view the use of Meta Tags as a quick way of increasing your sites popularity with a search engine.

Free Listing v Paid Inclusion
A major and inevitable development in search engine and directory submissions has occurred over the last few years as the Internet develops into a mature communications network.

Paid inclusion is now the norm when submitting commercial web sites, and all businesses should regard the costs associated with inclusion as an essential part of their yearly web site budget. Although many where critical of paid inclusion when the free submission model was abandoned as unsustainable, there are real benefits to these paid schemes.

The contract that paid inclusion schemes offer (usually refereed to as 'Express Submissions') ensure all parties are clear about their responsibilities and commitments. This helps reduce the abuse of search engines and directories as businesses are less willing to risk their site being barred or face legal prosecution as they attempt to abuse the submission process. Free listings continue to be available to non-commercial sites and it is clear that in the future submissions will eventually fall into either the paid commercial or free non-commercial category.

Follow Up and Maintenance
Check your placements on a weekly basis. Set aside at least three hours per week to monitor your sites performance. If any updates are posted or new pages are added make certain you have checked all your web site's links and provided Alt Tags for all images.

Further Links
To find out more about search engines we've found the following sites particularly useful:

www.searchengineguide.com
www.searchenginewatch.com

Great Content, A Little Luck, and a Lot of Patience
Despite your site being original and of a high all-round quality you may still find your best efforts go unrewarded.

It is still an unfortunate fact that search engines and directories have a long way to go before they recognise all the great sites out there. One thing that soon becomes apparent to the commercial and non-commercial web site owner alike is that patience is often the greatest quality required in search engine and directory submissions, and that for some unanswerable reason a site is not listed.

 

     
       
 
Authors background
Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author.

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