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Search Engines - Only The Big One Counts

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Many of you have read with enthusiasm my article on search engine optimization and believe if you follow them guidelines and then submit to hundreds of search engines you will be flooded with visitors and prospects eager to buy your product.
That might be true, but you can bet your bottom dollar that only the big engines are generating any significant number of visitors for you. The truth is that you have just wasted your time submitting to hundreds of search engines, because only a small percentage (and I mean small) of them will send you any decent monthly traffic. They might claim to be visited lots of times but that's mostly other webmasters submitting their URL and not actually using the search engine.
In fact there are currently hundreds of search engines out there, most of them are not much more than an advanced FFA page.

There's only one way I would submit to these and that's with good automated submittal software, just to clarify that a bit more - I would use automated software for the less important sites, but I would always hand submit to the top 15 or so engines.

So once again beware of the ads such as 'submit to the top 500 search engines for only $99', because generally only the top 10 will drive traffic to your site. It dosen't take much time to manually submit to these top engines and your $99 could better be spent on or buying ads in ezines or whatever. At the moment the top ten search sites - meaning both directories and search engines account for just over 93% of all search engine traffic. The other 6.something% is made up of hundreds of sites claiming to be search engines. Even at that the 11th - 15th biggest search engines make up most of that figure. So what are the search sites you need to concentrate on. The top 3 are directories as I believe their is a gradual shift to human-created search sites and many of the directories results are used be a large number of partner sites. And these sites seem to bring in the most traffic.

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 requirements.
Submit to Google at

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 interface.

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

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

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 peaked.

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 engines.

Submit to AV at

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 scene.

Written by David Callan

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