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Search Engine Directories FAQ

Directories are search engines powered by human beings. Human editors compile all the listings that directories have. Getting listed with the web's key directories is very important, because their listings are seen by many people. In addition, if you are listed with them, then crawler-based search engines are more likely to find your site and add it to their listings for free.

You should prepare before submitting to any directory. This preparation means that you have written a 25 word or less description of your entire web site. That description should make use of the two or three key terms that you hope to be found for.

It is essential that the description you write not make use of marketing language. So, if you sold shoes and wanted to be found for terms such as "athletic shoes" and "running shoes," you might write a "just the facts" description like this:

Purchase athletic shoes, running shoes, hiking boots and other footwear plus try our cross country trail finder.

You would not want a description like this, which is full of marketing hype, which editors dislike:

World’s LARGEST online shoe store with the best prices from the greatest brands!!!!

Submitting To Yahoo
The web's oldest major directory, and still it's most important, is Yahoo. Getting listed with Yahoo is absolutely essential to any site owner.

Yahoo has two submission options: "Standard," which is free, and "Yahoo Express," which involves a submission fee.

Anyone can use Standard submission to submit for free to a non-commercial category. You'll know the category is non-commercial if the "reverse bar" containing the category name at the top of the category page is blue. You'll also know because if you try to submit to a non-commercial category, the Standard submission option will be offered in addition to the Yahoo Express paid option, discussed further below.

Why might you choose to pay when the free search engine submission option is available? Simply for a fast turnaround time. If you use the free submit choice, there's no guarantee that your submission will be reviewed quickly or at all.

Your submission to a non-commercial category is more likely to be accepted if your content is not overtly commercial. For example, submitting the home page of a site that sells running shoes is likely to be seen a commercial and not accepted. However, if you have a page within that web site that discusses in depth how to select the right type of shoes for different running races, then that page might be deemed helpful, non-commercial information and accepted.

As for commercial categories, Yahoo requires that sites pay a Yahoo Express submission fee of $300 (well, $299) per year. This fee doesn't guarantee that you will be listed, only that you'll get a yes or no answer about being accepted within seven business days. However, the vast majority of most decent sites are accepted.

If accepted, you'll be reevaluated after a year and charged the submission fee again, if you want to stay in Yahoo's commercial area. You should review the traffic you received from Yahoo over the past year, to decide if it is worth paying the fee again. If not, you can decline to be listed, and you will not be charged.

The annual fee only applies to commercial categories. If you submit to a non-commercial category using Yahoo Express and get accepted into that area, the fee is charged only once, not on an annual basis. You might get the opposite impression, because you'll keep seeing references to "recurring annual fee." However, in the terms and conditions for Yahoo Express, the annual fee is only for sites in the Yahoo Commercial Directory.

You'll know you are submitting to a commercial category if the "reverse bar" containing the category name at the top of the category page is yellow. You'll also know because if you try to submit to a commercial category, only the Yahoo Express submission option is offered.

How do you submit? If you are submitting for free to a non-commercial category, click on the "Suggest a Site" link that appears at the bottom of category page. That will bring up a submission form. Fill it out, and you're done.

If you are paying to submit, you needn't pick a category. Instead, just go to the URL below:

Yahoo Express Submission Form

From there, Yahoo editors will choose a category for you. All you need to do is fill out the form that's presented.

The above tips are the bare essentials to getting listed with Yahoo. If you are in a hurry, you can follow them, and you'll probably get listed and receive some traffic from the service. However, it would behoove you to do even more preparation before submitting to this very important service.

Alternatively, you might consider working with a search engine optimization company which has experience in submitting to Yahoo. You'll have to pay for their services, but the price may be worth it in relation to the additional traffic you'll receive from a carefully conducted submission to Yahoo.

Finally, even if you don't get listed in Yahoo's own listings, you may still appear in some of the results that Yahoo licenses from Google. The next part of this guide explains how to submit to Google. You can even get listed for free. However, if you get listed in Yahoo's own results, you'll likely get much more traffic from Yahoo.

Submitting To LookSmart
Another important directory is LookSmart. This is because LookSmart provides the main listings used by the popular MSN Search service. LookSmart's listings are also distributed to other search engines. As with Yahoo, getting listed with LookSmart is essential for any site owner.

As with Yahoo, LookSmart has a free submit option for it's non-commercial categories and a paid option for it's commercial ones. The paid options are covered in the Submitting Via Paid Listings part of this tutorial, because they involve recurring "cost per click" charges.

To submit for free, you must go to, which uses volunteer editors to catalog the web. LookSmart owns Zeal and incorporates the non-commercial listings from Zeal into it's own directory.

Also as with Yahoo, your submission to the non-commercial categories at Zeal must be for content that is truly non-commercial in nature. If you attempt to submit something that is actually commercial, it will be rejected.

How do you submit? You'll need to sign-up as a Zeal member, via the URL below:

Zeal Sign-Up Form

Once you've done that and passed the subsequent member test, you can then submit your site to the non-commercial category you've selected by using the "Manage" option near the top of the category page and the using "Add a Site Profile" link near the top of where sites are listed.

Submitting To The Open Directory
The Open Directory is a volunteer-built guide to the web. It provides the main results to Netscape Search and powers the Google Directory. It also powers some results for a variety of other services. Given this, being listed with the Open Directory is essential to any site owner.

The good news is that submission is absolutely free. The bad news is that this means there's no guaranteed turnaround time to getting a yes or no answer about whether you've been accepted.

To submit, locate the category you want to be listed in. Then use the "add URL" link that appears at the top of the category page. Fill out the form, and that's it -- you've submitted.

If you are accepted, you should see your site appear within about three weeks. If this doesn't happen, then you should resubmit.

As with Yahoo, it's highly recommended that you take the time to learn more about the Open Directory before submitting, in order to maximize the amount of traffic you may receive.

In Conclusion
All the services above are must places to get listed. If you did nothing more than get listed with them, your web site would be available to a huge potential audience of web searchers. In addition, you will make it more likely that crawler-based search engines, which are discussed next, will also find your web pages.

As you've seen, free search engine submission is possible with all of these directories. However, commercial sites should not view free submission as an end run around paying mandatory submission fees levied against commercial sites or commercial categories. Such attempts are likely to get your site rejected. Don't waste your time. Move directly to the paid submission options and start tapping into traffic right away. 

Offline business all have basic start-up costs that must be met, such as business licenses, phone bills, Yellow Pages ads and so on. For online businesses, directory submission fees should also be considered basic start-up costs, just as domain name registration and web hosting fees are a crucial part of anyone's budget.

NEXT ::: Unpicked's Free Search Engine Submission

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