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How to properly submit to search engines

June 11, 2004

We get numerous emails and we are regularly asked on how often a company should submit (or resubmit) their website to the crawling (or spidering) search engines. There are still a lot of people that wrongly believe they should submit their website on a regular monthly or weekly basis, in order to “maintain” their site in the search engines!

Unless there has been substantial or significant changes made to its content, submitting a website that is already in a given search engine's database is even a bad idea, as some engines could treat it as spam.

To be sure, before submitting (or resubmitting) pages, first check each search engine to determine if the new page has already indexed. There is no fundamental reason to resubmit a page to an engine if that updated page is already in the engine’s database.

The following is a list of some of the most popular search engines and directories along with their general guidelines. If you follow these guidelines carefully, we can guarantee that your submittals should be positive and your Web visibility should improve greatly.

Submitting to Google
It is a generally accepted fact now that Google is probably the number one search engine anywhere on the Internet. Therefore, getting a listing in Google should be a top priority to anyone wishing to have a serious presence.

Google also happens to be one of the best search engines for crawling through websites all over the world. Currently, it is widely estimated that Google crawls close to four billion pages just about every month in order to refresh its large database.

The proper way to submit to Google is simply to add the address (URL) of your website and Google will eventually spider your whole site. One very simple way to check if Google has indexed your site in its database is to type your URL into its search box. Please note that Google currently takes about thirty to sixty days to completely index and re-index all the pages in its master database.

We know from experience and even representatives from Google have said in the past they prefer to find websites on their own, rather than you submitting them through their form. These same representatives also state that you should nevertheless also use their submittal form. As of today, Google has no immediate plans to initiate any pay-for-inclusion program.

Submitting to Global Business Listing
Getting more and more popular, Global Business Listing is a Pay-for-Inclusion (PFI) search engine. What makes Global Business Listing truly exciting for most site owners and Webmasters is that, for only $ 99 for a whole year, depending in which industry your business is in, Global Business Listing can help place your site higher on the results pages in Google, sometimes in the first position on the results page.

Global Business Listing is currently listed as Number Four in Google for the important industry keywords and very generic categories of food growers and luxury car dealers and Number Four for pharmaceutical industry manufacturers. Many other industry and generic keywords are also enjoying similar results.

Another important feature which is unheard of in the search industry is, any company that signs up for its service gets an automatic 10% discount on all of its Web hosting fees, thanks to a special arrangement with Sun Hosting. Companies must be willing to switch their Web hosting provider in order to receive the 10% web hosting discount.

Another feature that makes Global Business Listing (GBL) interesting is, on top of being able to do a query with the usual search box, people can search by industry, using the directory feature on the search engine. And if all of that isn't enough, consider that GBL will also effectively transfer PR (Page Rank) to your site, since there are 2 text links (and one graphic link) that points to your site, once you've subscribed to the service. If you would like to see and example of a company listing, simply click here.

Submitting to AltaVista
In the pre-2000 days, dubbed as the “good old days” of the Internet, AltaVista used to be one the fastest to index new pages. For some reason, AltaVista doesn’t index pages as rapidly anymore, unless you use their paid inclusion program. AltaVista has developed a good submittal procedure, in an effort to seriously reduce unwanted spam & clutter in their database.

When you submit a website to AV's free "Add-URL form," you can see a graphical image of strange-looking letters and numbers. AltaVista instructs you to type those letters and numbers into a box in order to continue your submission. Once you have done that, you can then submit up to five URLs.

This procedure is a good idea, in an effort to reduce the large number of so-called “automatic submission programs”, which we strongly believe should not even exist in the first place. Since we always manually submit every website anyway, it's not a problem for us. As long as all our submissions get added in an acceptable period of time, our clients are happy.

AltaVista currently takes anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to spider a site, although it is our experience that such numbers can vary widely from one site to another depending on the amount of backward links and such.

One quick way to find out if your site is in AltaVista’s database is to simply type in "" into the AV search box, substituting your own domain name for If you happen to be in their database, your indexed pages will be readily apparent.

Submitting to Yahoo!
With all the many recent acquisitions Yahoo has made, it is now the number two search property on the Web. Although Yahoo, by definition, is still considered a directory, this could change soon, with their acquisition of Overture. Overture is a Pay per Click (PPC) search engine.

There used to be a time when submitting to Yahoo was free. Today, some categories are still free, but on many of the others, Yahoo now charges US $ 299 per year for inclusion. If you are lucky enough to find a free category, then submit your site to it. Currently, it takes approximately anywhere from two to six weeks to get listed in Yahoo’s directory.

Here again, these numbers can vary widely. The proper way to submit to Yahoo is to go to the category that best fits your description, industry or products or services your site has to offer and submit to it. Contrary to Google and AltaVista which, by definition, are real search engines that regularly crawl the web and index the sites they find, please note that all submissions to the Yahoo directory are still handled by humans and can be edited or modified if submitted to the wrong category.

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Submitting to the Open Directory, or DMOZ
Submitting your site to DMOZ, or the Open Directory Project, is one of the most important directories you should consider. Google and many other major search engines now build their own directory from the DMOZ database, so being listed in the Open Directory Project is one of the best things to do in order to add significant visibility to your website. Here is the step-by-step procedure to do it right:

Step A)
Your full contact information needs to be there. Make certain that your full contact information is easily accessible, preferably with the help of a clearly identified contact button. An e-mail address is certainly not enough. Many ODP editors will tell you if they don't see a real physical or postal address or telephone number, then that website in its particular category is usually tossed away and probably will never make it inside the directory.

Most importantly, if you are wishing to sell anything, you need to build credibility and honesty with your clients. In such a case, giving proper and full contact information on the site is imperative.

Step B)
Do not attempt to SPAM the directory. You should only submit your site once and forget it for at least two to three months. According to DMOZ rules and regulations, you are only allowed to submit to one category. However, in certain isolated cases and if your website happens to be a very large one and offers lots of information, you may be able to submit a second section of it to a different category. As a rule of thumb, it usually takes time for most submissions to be processed.

This is especially true of categories where there are many daily submissions. It is not recommended to submit a website more than once, as it could end up on the lower bottom of the large list of sites to be reviewed and approved, since they are processed according to their submissions dates.

Step C)
Your website needs original and good content. During the course of your work, if you are only trying to publish an assortment of affiliate links or if your site happens to be a "mirror-site" of other websites that are plentiful on the Internet, then you are increasing your chances of your submission being rejected.

If in fact you really have to deal with affiliate products or services, we recommend that you add lots of new content, perhaps a product review category, an industry news section or any other additional information that will tell the DMOZ editors that your site has something original to offer and has lots of great content that will be of good use to their users.

Step D)
Double-check your website for spelling errors or typos. As much as the DMOZ editors are looking for great content, all are only human and will probably be irritated by some typos or spelling mistakes. Our experience with the ODP tells us that professionally written and carefully built websites with great content, usually always make it into the directory eventually.

Step E)
Keep good records of your submission to DMOZ. We strongly recommend in keeping a complete record of the date a website was submitted to the Open Directory Project and to which particular category it was submitted to. If the category you want to submit to has an editor, you should always make a note of who that editor is. Such information would be useful if later you need to inquire about the status of your submission.

Some of you might ask: "How long does it take to get listed?" Recently, we had one site listed within three weeks of submission and, on other less fortunate occasions, we waited over six months for other sites. It is extremely hard to predict anything.

Step F)
Select the proper category for any submission. In Google or Alta-Vista, when people submit a URL to such robotic search engines, there really is not much to think about, since their crawlers or "spiders" will visit and index your site automatically, normally over a rather short period of time. However, when submitting to a directory such as DMOZ, a critical part of that submission process is choosing the right category. One good thing that is recommended is to go online and look where other websites similar to yours have been placed in the directory.

When you get to the category that you think is best, press the "add URL" button. In other categories, sometimes the DMOZ editors might put a note mentioning certain restrictions to that category. It is recommended that these notes be read carefully and that you don't submit to these restricted categories if your site doesn't meet the parameters mentioned.

Step G)
Always contact DMOZ through the proper channels. Finally, a word of caution: if the category where you want to submit does have an editor, it will usually be written at the bottom of the page and you normally should be able to send that editor a message. There is another way to contact the DMOZ editors through their online forum. Once there, you can ask about the status of your submission, but you must always give them the category and submission date of your last attempt. Additionally, you can always ask a few questions about general DMOZ procedures and rules.

To read the full article I recently wrote on how to get your website listed in the Open Directory Project, please click here.

Prepare to be patient
As with anything in life that’s really worth it, be prepared to be patient! Once you have carefully submitted your website to the search engines and directories listed in this article, the next best thing for you to do is wait and do nothing. Unless you have paid for inclusion in any of their optional programs, you should keep concentrating in improving the quality of the overall content of your site. On top of updating your existing pages, you should regularly add new pages to your site.

After any submittals, we suggest you wait for about sixty days. After this period, you should check back with all the engines, as noted above. Sixty days could be interpreted as a long waiting period for most of you, but it's usually the best strategy. We must admit that we personally check at least every two to three weeks after submission, but for the average webmaster or site owner, waiting 60 days is the recommended time period.

After that period has passed, you will probably be positively surprised to discover that your website has been properly indexed by all of the search properties discussed in this article.

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Additionally, if you optimized your website for your most important keywords and key phrases and have the right keyword density, the search engines should be referring you a fair amount of good, targeted prospects that should convert into clients.

Isn’t that what Search Engine Optimization and submittal is all about?

Article written by Serge Thibodeau,
President & CEO,
Rank for $ales
Copyright (c) Serge Thibodeau 2003

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