are places where users go to find websites, just like they
do with search engines. However, there are significant differences
between the two. For people who are trying to boost the
traffic to their sites, it is vital to understand these
differences in order to succeed.
search engines normally accept almost any site or page that
is submitted to them without looking at its quality, directories
usually only accept sites that offer quality information.
Because all sites submitted to directories are reviewed
by humans, sites that are of low quality rarely get accepted.
leads us to a logical conclusion: Before submitting your
site to any directories, make sure that your site is completely
ready for it! I strongly recommend that you read the "Web
page design" section of this site for more information
on how to prepare your site for the submission. Remember
that directories list sites, not pages. In normal circumstances,
you should only submit the front page of your site to directories.
Which directories can really boost your traffic?
If you did what I suggested above, your site should now
be ready to be submitted to different directories. But how
does this happen? Well, first you'll of course have to pick
the directories you're going to submit to. The most important
ones your site should get into are Yahoo,
also known as Open Directory. You can, and should, read
more about their individual features from their own sections
on this site.
What about the other directories? Well, there are a few
other interesting ones you might want to submit to, but
they are far less important than the "big three"
above. Do submit to them if possible, but focus on Yahoo,
Looksmart and DMOZ, since they provide way more traffic.
OK, now you know where you should submit to. But how do
you actually submit? It is relatively simple. Nearly all
directories consist of different categories and subcategories,
each consisting of sites related to the name of the category.
You'll just need to find the category (or more often, subcategory)
that best fits the topic of your site.
This can be done by either browsing through the directory
or by doing a search on the keyword that best describes
your site - often the directory will return a few categories
that are relevant to your site and you'll just need to choose
the one that seems to be most accurate. Usually, it is best
to submit to the most detailed category that applies to
your site; if your site is about programming in C++, you
should submit to >Computers>Programming>C++ instead
It is wise to spend some time to search the most accurate
category for your site, since submissions done to the wrong
categories are usually just thrown out. In addition, the
category you submit to will be the category you're going
to be stuck with for the rest of your site's life, and getting
stuck in the wrong category might cost you some heavy traffic.
The submission process
After you've found the right category for your site, it
is time to move on to the actual submitting process. This
is an even more delicate part than the last one, so keep
on your toes. The first thing to do is to carefully read
the directory's rules and instructions on how to submit.
They are usually displayed when you are beginning the submission
process. Read them over a couple of times and follow them
to the letter.
Nearly all directories will ask you to give the title of
your site and a description of it when you are submitting.
Put some thought in creating these, because they can significantly
boost or reduce the amount of traffic you'll get from the
directory. When writing your description, don't stuff it
with words like 'best' or 'cheapest', and don't use ALL
CAPITAL LETTERS. Write a short (15-25 words) description
that accurately describes your site, and try to make it
sound like an impartial review.
It would be also a good idea to check how the descriptions
of the other sites in the same category are written and
use them as a model. If possible, make sure that one or
two of your best keywords are included in the description,
but don't just stuff them there. Your description should
sound like it's a natural sentence. If the editor thinks
your description is little more than a list of keywords,
he'll reject it and write a new one that may not include
even a single keyword. Having one or two of your most important
keywords in your description often helps your site to be
found when a user searches the directory instead of browsing
If you later decide that the description you entered the
first time isn't good enough, it is possible to contact
most directories and try to get your description changed
to a better one. Unfortunately, it is usually very difficult
and very time-consuming to get directories to change the
description of your site at a later date. Thus, it is heavily
recommended that you try and get it right the first time.
Your title should be brief, it is not a place to list all
your products and services. If possible, the title should
include your most important keyword in it and start with
a letter that is near the beginning of the alphabet. 'Automobile
World' is better than 'World of Automobiles', because many
directories list sites in alphabetical order and getting
listed near the top can boost your traffic from the directory.
Since the title MUST be the official title of the site and
it must be used on your pages, this might require you to
change the name of your site. In addition to this, the title
must sound like it just happens to start with a letter near
the beginning of the alphabet, or it will get edited. The
actual title of this site is 'A Promotion Guide', but Yahoo
listed me as 'Promotion Guide, A', since the Yahoo editor
thought the 'A' was included just to get to the top of the
list. The same rules that apply to the description apply
to the title - no promotional hype, no all capital letters.
After you have entered all the information, remember to
check it for any possible typos or errors in spelling. Be
extra careful with your URL, since a typo in it would naturally
result in your site never getting reviewed. Then, say a
quick prayer (in the case of Yahoo, at least two prayers)
and hit the submit button. Good luck!
You'll usually get an E-mail if your site is accepted, but
rarely if it is rejected. It is thus sometimes hard to know
whether your site has been reviewed and rejected or if it
is still unreviewed. If you don't get an E-mail after a
few days and your site has not appeared to the directory,
don't panic. Wait a few weeks until resubmitting your site;
many directories are flooded with submissions and will get
annoyed if you don't give them enough time to process the
The top dog - Google
After looking at my referral logs and reading discussion
forums frequented by search engine optimization experts,
it is clear to me that Google is the primary source of search
engine traffic for most sites. This should not surprise
anyone, because in addition to the fact that Google provides
the secondary results at Yahoo, the engine itself has become
the favorite of great many people due to the high quality
of its results.
To make things even better, it is in my opinion relatively
easy to get well-ranked in Google even under fairly competitive
keywords. All these things together constitute a good reason
why you should examine Google's
ranking algorithm and ensure that your pages meet its
Submit to Google at http://www.google.com/addurl.html
Runner up - FAST
While it's still relatively small when compared with Google,
FAST shows promise of becoming a very serious contender.
It provides search results for many large portals and sites,
for example to Lycos.
FAST also runs its own search service, AllTheWeb,
which provides fairly accurate results and sports a non-cluttered
Interestingly, FAST's algorithm seems to somewhat resemble
that of Google, which explains why some searches turn up
similar answers at both engines. However, there are differences,
so a page that is in the top ten at Google may not do so
well with FAST.
Submit to FAST at http://www.alltheweb.com/add_url.php
Third place - Inktomi
Inktomi does not run a search engine, but does provide search
services and software for other sites. Its largest clients
are AOL and MSN, but many smaller search engines and portals
use Inktomi's results as well.
Most of Inktomi's customers use it as a secondary results
provider. This means that Ink's results are only shown when
the primary provider, such as Looksmart in the case of MSN,
doesn't come up with anything useful. Thus, Inktomi can
provide only a limited amount of visibility to the sites
listed in it, especially under keywords that are very popular.
Those who are interested in getting traffic through Inktomi
should therefore target keyphrases that are less common,
but are used in searches every now and then.
Submit to Inktomi at http://www.goo.ne.jp/help/door/url.html
Note: The above link takes you to Goo via Altavista's Babelfish,
which translates the submit page from Japanese to English.
The "Submit" button is on the left, the button
on the right clears the forms.
My apologies for the clumsiness of this arrangement, but
Goo is at the moment probably the best way to submit to
Inktomi's database for free.
Fourth - Altavista
During its glory days in 1999 and early 2000, being able
to obtain a few top ten positions at Altavista was every
webmaster's dream. However, after that the engine has been
constantly declining. According to recent Jupiter Media
Metrix statistics, Altavista has now lost two thirds of
the audience it had in the summer of 2000 when its popularity
At the moment, I would still advise that you submit all
of your pages to Altavista. But while it still is able to
send a visitor or two your way, you should only try optimizing
your site for Altavista if you're sure that the changes
won't cause your position to drop in the other top search
Submit to AV at http://addurl.altavista.com/sites/addurl/newurl
Summing it all up
There's no denying it, right now Google is where most of
the free search engine traffic is at. Make sure that all
of your pages are present in all of the above engines, but
concentrate on optimizing for Google.
Some of you might be surprised by the shortness of this
list, as it only includes four search engines. It's true
that the list is short, but that is because we've seen a
lot of free search engines disappear during the recent times.
At the moment, there unfortunately aren't any more free
search engines that are worth submitting to in addition
to those listed above. However, it's possible that the list
may grow longer in the future as new players appear on the