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Submitting Web Sites to the Search Engines

Q: Dear Virginia,

I wanted to increase traffic to my book site, so I recently signed up with a search engine submission company to submit the pages of my site every month to the search engines. I wanted my site to appear in the listings when someone searches for "book" in any search engine.

Now I notice that my site has been dropped by some search engines. Not only is my site not doing better in the search engine site rankings, it's doing worse. What happened?



A: Dear MF,

The online marketing area can be very confusing. I notice that you said that you went to a "search engine submission" company. If that company was truly a search engine submission company, then what they do will never help any site. Such companies charge (usually) a small amount and promise to submit the site to the search engines every month. They submit sites by using submission software to do the job automatically. The process takes them 5 minutes each time. It should cost about $5.00, and result is not worth even that small amount.

Trouble is, there is no need to submit a site every month. In fact, if you do, many search engines take umbrage and drop your site. In particular, the top search engines do not allow submission by software at all. It is true that they are "trying to prevent such companies from swamping the search engines." People searching for the easy way to market a site have actually tried submitting sites every day using automatic software. The search engines simply cannot handle such a deluge and there is no need for it. The top sites want us to thoughtfully submit a site one time, manually filling out the form they give us. And many of the top sites want us to pay them to accept the submission.

And, of course, the rules change all the time. The only way to do well in the search engines right now is to:

  • make sure that search engines can spider the site (no frames, lots of text links)
  • optimize the site for the keywords of interest
  • submit the site manually to the top search engines, paying them as necessary
  • get the site listed on as many directories as possible, because incoming links help
  • request links from related sites

Getting a Web site well ranked in the search engines is not accomplished by brute force submission. Getting well ranked is a matter of preparing the pages so that the search engine spiders find the info they need on those pages. It's also a matter of trying to think like the searcher. We want to determine what keyword phrases the target market would use when they are looking for our type of site.

When optimizing a site we never rely on one single keyword, such as "book". That's too broad, because a site for a non-fiction book on raising horses is not a site about books. We might aim at keyword phrases such as "horse book" or "how to raise horses", and we would look for several other appropriate keyword phrases. A lot of thought goes into a good online marketing campaign, because we want to help the search engines to serve their searching public. If we do our job correctly, we're helping the search engines to help searchers to find exactly what they want to find.

No one should sign up for search engine submissions to be carried out by software. That’s a job for thoughtful manual submission – one time!



–© 2004 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is a professional Web Designer and Online Marketing Consultant who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at or visit her Web site at



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