If you want your site to be found on the Internet, it would not be uncommon wisdom suggesting you submit your website URL to Google or DMOZ. It obviously makes sense to be listed on the premier search engine and in the top directory.
Google only controls around 75% of worldwide searches: so what about all those other directories and engines out there?
Is it worthwhile being listed, and if so, is it better to make your website submission manually or use an automated software tool or agency? This piece will examine these questions and in the process try to determine what to look for if you decide to use an automated tool for submission.
Some search engines and directories make it virtually impossible to be included except by manual submission. The two best examples are perhaps Google and DMOZ. Although no sites actually seem to encourage automated submission, it is certainly actively discouraged at a number of quality and authority sites. This does not mean that there is something inherently wrong with automated submission. After all it’s just an easy way to fill out a form. While Google does not allow automated submissions, they implicitly admit the legitimacy of doing so by providing an “autofill” button on their plug-in toolbar.
The reticence of automated submissions has varied rationale but some obvious reasons can be identified. Automated submissions can lead to server overload and vulnerability to denial of service attacks by hackers and the like. Inappropriate submissions, for example submitting a general interest URL to a specialty engine, can happen accidentally (or not) much more easily when submission is automated. Finally, manually maintained directories are particularly sensitive to inappropriate categorisation and trivial requests for inclusion. For them it would appear that manual submissions separate the wheat from the chaff.
However, if we accept that automated submissions are legitimate (and they are), the question still remains as to whether it is worthwhile. Even with the recent changes at Yahoo, the dominance of Google tends to overshadow all other search engine. While estimates of Google’s importance vary, a significant number of searches do originate with other engines. Certainly there can be no denying the usefulness of specialized and niche search engines.
With these issues aside, let’s get to the heart of the matter. Automated submissions can be done in a couple of ways. You can purchase a software package or find a website that performs this function. Here we are primarily concerned with the former since this has more appeal for the web developer because it provides an inexpensive way of making multiple submissions for different sites. These packages may be dedicated engine-submission tools or part of an integrated suite or package of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tools.
There is no substitute for manual submissions as not all the search engines have the same fields for completion and have differeing lengths of certain fields like description or category.
A Word of Caution
As a result of automated submissions you will doubtless receive some unwanted email. I won’t dwell on the irony of this situation other than to say “He who lives by the sword…”
As part of the submission process, many sites require a valid email address. In some cases, a site will not be added if there is no response to a confirming email. An awkward situation can develop if you are adding a listing on behalf of a client and this client starts receiving spam. One solution is to set up a temporary email address that is used for the short term or an address that redirects emails to one of your own accounts. In this way legitimate confirmations can be handled and spam need not reach your client.
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