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Search Engine Submission Services

By Julie King |

Search engine submission promotions have a long history in the realm of junk email. And if the five separate solicitations I received recently are any indication, it looks like at least one aggressive marketer is moving their direct marketing effort to traditional mail.

While many small businesses are drawn to the idea of a service that will position their website at the top of the search engine rankings, buying good placement is highly problematic. Today this is particularly true when the purchase is made through an automated search engine submission service.

Consider the tactics of the company that sent us individual letters for five different website names we had registered for a client. These names have never been used and have no website associated with them. Nonetheless, using highly charged language I could feel an automatic, emotional reaction to the combination of severe threats and unbelievable promises that the letters contained.

If the letter I received could be believed, the rankings of these websites were at risk. Reading the promotional copy that followed, it would appear that all I had to do was confirm my "annual subscription" to the mailer's search engine submission service - for a mere $96.25 including GST - and it would then be easy for my site to be found by "... 60 million users of 100+ search engines".

A fantastic offer for a cheap price, on the surface of things. But as someone who has worked for many years to help sites get well ranked in the major search engines, this offer had the potential to do much more harm than good.

Search engine submission services can hurt your ranking. Here's a look at the problems inherent in any offer like this.

Optimization must come first.
The major search engines like Google and MSN rely on mathematical formulas (algorithms) to determine how sites are ranked when a user does a keyword-based search. There are specific tactics that will help you improve the odds of your webpage coming up towards to the top of a keyword search. Search engine pros call these tactics "on-the-page" optimization techniques. They include things like the meta tags being used, the words used in the titles, heading and links on your pages, and the density of your target keyword phrases on different pages.

If you are thinking of submitting a website name that isn't linked to a site yet, think again. Search engines check the web address for a site, and if none exists they won't list you.
If you go ahead and submit your website to the search engines before you optimize your site, you can negatively affect your search engine positioning. For example, let's say that you decided to purchase a search submission service before you had added meta tags to your page. To make things worse, instead of using targeted keywords, the titles, headings and links on your website use generic language. Language that is not relevant to the keywords your customers will use when searching for companies like yours.

If you make these or other common mistakes, you may find yourself at the bottom of the search engine listings. There may be 60 million users of 100+ search engines online, but users rarely look beyond the first 2 to 3 pages of search results before moving on. The result: you could have just spent a nominal amount to ensure that 60 million users have a difficult time finding you online.

Several search engines and directories are fee driven
The fall of the stock market and demise of many dot.coms has pushed surviving companies to carefully consider how they can run a profitable online business. As a result some of the largest search engines and directories now charge uses to submit their website. A directory like Yahoo now charges approximately US$299 each year to ensure that an editor will look at your website and consider it for inclusion in the Yahoo directory. Some of the other search sites have moved to a pay-per-click model.

In other words, some of the most important places to be listed online now charge individuals significantly more than $96.25 to list a website. This doesn't mean that a person or a search service cannot submit a website for inclusion in one of these sites. But it does make it likely that your website will not be accepted into the for-fee and pay-per-click sites. When evaluating a search engine submission service that says it will submit your site to places like Yahoo, ask if the company guarantees that your website will be listed. If not, you may not achieve the desired goal of tapping into the large online user base, even if your site is properly optimized.

Targeted niches outperform shotgun approach
One of the secrets of effective search engine submissions is that you need to submit your website to targeted, industry-specific search engines and directories. While search engine services may submit your website to hundreds of engines, where is the value to your company if the users of 95% of those engines would never be interested in your company, products or services?

The fact is, it is quite easy to submit your own website to the major search engines that really count. Some will have an associated fee while submission to others like Google will be free. CanadaOne recently updated our free search engine submission tool, which you can use to submit your site to both Canadian engines and the major engines. But beyond these more general sites, the next step is to research industry-specific engines and even lists of links that target your industry. A search engine service willing to guarantee that the majority of submissions are to targeted engines for your particular industry would have great value. But most services opt for a shotgun approach, where the majority of engines on their submission list have highly questionable value.

With search engine optimization and submission, execution (the process that is used) is critical to success. Thoroughly investigate offers, and ask each company if they are willing to guarantee that your site will be listed in at least the major search engines and directories, including Yahoo.

Further Reading & Resources
Search Engine Submission Tool on CanadaOne
On Search Engine optimization
Search Engine Watch
Search Engine Guide

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