Web Development 202: Search Engine and Directory Submission

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Another technique to develop links to your site is to submit your website URL to search engines and directories. As stated in the previous post, the more links to your site, the higher your site will rank in search listings, the more traffic it will get. Like everything else in SEO, the benefits won’t become evident overnight but--over time--positive effects will incrementally materialize.

Creating the Submission Material

Before submitting your website URL to a single search engine or directory, one important preliminary task is to prepare the information you plan to use in your submission. Thousands of web directories exist, and more are being created all the time, so instead of re-typing the same information thousands of times, prepare the information beforehand in a plaintext editor and save the document. Consider my ongoing--fictional--example about “XYZ Webhosting Company”. In the document, I might save something similar to the following:

Title:  XYZ Webhosting

Website URL: http://www.xyzwebhosting.com/

XYZ Webhosting is a high-quality webhosting company that provides hosting for a variety of needs: shared hosting, dedicated hosting, VPS, etc. and hosting packages on Linux and Windows servers are available options. etc. etc.

Keywords 1: hosting, web hosting, webhost, webhosting, VPS
Keywords 2: hosting webhost webhosting VPS

Some points to note:
  1. The title includes a targeted keyword. In many cases, the title becomes the anchor text of the URL in the directory listing, so choose carefully.
  2. The description includes one or more keywords.
  3. Two versions of the keyword list have been created: one comma-separated and one separated by blank spaces (some directories require a keyword list in the different formats).

Once the material has reached the point that it includes all the information I want it to, and has been thoroughly edited into a well-written paragraph, the document is saved as, say, “dir_sub_material”. Having this document saved and available every time I want to do some directory submission ensures that I am using good-quality material, spelling and grammatical errors have been corrected, proper keywords are included, and it doesn’t have to be re-typed many times (possibly introducing typos into the submission material). Then, when I submit to a directory, it is simply a matter of copying material from the document and pasting it into the appropriate fields of the directory submission page. Directory submission is an ongoing task: over the course of months--or even years--working from your version of a backed up document like “dir_sub_material” will save a lot of time.

Search Engine Submission

Once the submission material is ready to use, the first submissions I recommend you make are to search engines. Approval of a submission to a search engine can take a long time. So, instead of doing other SEO activities first, and then submitting your website URL to search engines, and then waiting years for a reply, do it first. Get this task out of the way early and then forget about it. After you have submitted your website URL to search engines, move on to your other SEO activities. In the months--or years--to get a reply from the search engines, you will have been productive on other website marketing activities.

Following are links for submission directly to the two major search engines:

Google: http://www.google.com/addurl/

Bing: http://www.bing.com/webmaster/SubmitSitePage.aspx

Also, less well-known search engines are blekko and DuckDuckGo.

I also recommend looking for audience-specific search engines. Many search engines exist that target a particular audience and it is often easier to get a site listed in some of these search engines--if your website is relevant to that particular niche--than it is to get into the big, general, search engines. There are search engines specifically for sites based on geography (e.g. – for Canadian websites, or topics of interest to Canadians) or audience interest (e.g. – students, academia, etc.).

Phil Bradley has an extensive list of search engines: http://www.philb.com/

In fact, he has a list of over 200 country-specific search engines:


If your site is of particular interest to people in a specific geographical location, submit it to a country-specific search engine; sometimes administrators of those search engines want to help local webmasters, and so they are more accepting of your site than would be, say, Google.

Alternately, if the purpose of your site is to attract visitors with specific interests, submit it to search engines that target that specific audience. For example, consider the following:

Sweet Search (for students):  http://www.sweetsearch.com/

Oolone (returns site page previews):  http://oolone

Ice Rocket (a search engine for blogs):  http://www.icerocket.com/

DeepDyve (for academic publications):  http://www.deepdyve.com/

Furthermore, at following links are posted lists of search engines that may be relevant to you:

Top Online Engineering Degree, "50 Coolest Niche Search Engines You Never Knew Existed":

About.com, "The Search Engine List":

OnlineUniversities.com, "100 Niche Search Engines Every College Student Needs":

In addition, there are two excellent sites that present much information about search engines: Search Engine Watch and Danny Sullivan's Search Engineland.

A search would turn up many more search engines and related resources; in fact, I discover more all the time without actively searching. I encourage you to find niche search engines--into which your site would be appropriate--and submit to them.

Directory Submission

Once you have submitted your website URL to all the search engines which you think are appropriate, it is time to move on to the main task: directory submission. Similar to my advice for search engines, there is one submission I recommend you make before proceeding to other submissions:

Open Directory Project

This directory is huge and well-known. However, like the largest search engines, it is hard to get a site included in it and, even if a site is accepted, that acceptance can be a long time coming. So, submit your website URL to it early in your SEO activities and then move on to other tasks.

The process for submitting a website to a directory is similar for all directories:
  1. From the main page, navigate to the appropriate category, and sub-category if necessary. Try to navigate to the lowest, most-specific, category into which your website would be appropriate.
  2. Click on the button or link for submitting a website for listing in that category (usually it is called “Suggest Link” or “Suggest URL”).
  3. Enter all the required information for your website submission (copy and paste from the “dir_sub_material” document you created earlier).
Several ready-made lists of directories are available, for example, Web Directories List and Best Web Directories. Like the advice given above for search engines, I recommend looking for and submitting your site to niche directories, directories into which your site would be appropriate based on geography and/or intended audience. Your site has a much better chance of getting accepted into a niche directory if its topic fits nicely into the theme of the directory, than it does if submitted to a general directory. So, if you are, say, a German webmaster, make sure to submit your site to a German directory, whose unstated goal may be to increase the exposure of German sites.

Another bit of advice I’d like to offer: spend time in webmaster forums; a few are listed in the left column of this blog, under the "Favorite Links" header. Many of the larger webmaster forums have sections in which the administrators of new directories can announce those new directories. By keeping an eye on these forums, and submitting your site to a new directory immediately after it is announced, your submission has a very good chance of getting accepted. The reason for this is that the administrators of new directories are usually anxious to get their directories populated, so (i) they are not as strict with requirements; and (ii) submissions are often accepted without having to pay a fee or provide a reciprocal link. When a directory becomes better established, and its traffic and PageRank increase, the administrators often stop accepting free submissions, or submissions without a reciprocal link, and become more critical when vetting submissions. So, keep an eye open for the very newest directories and submit to them right away.

I also suggest visiting the Info Vilesilencer site. This site’s raison d'ĂȘtre is web directories; it presents much information about them: how they are used, links to other resources, and lists of hundreds of directories. The site administrator, who goes by the nom de plume Dan Jensen, does a thorough job of vetting the directories on his lists for their SEO aspects (i.e. – Are they quality directories that filter spam listings? Do listings in the directories use the “no-follow” tag? Is submission free?  Etc.). This site also features forums in which further information is exchanged--including a section for the announcement of new directories. For the reasons stated above, this forum is an excellent place to watch for the newest directory announcements.

To summarize, if you explore the resources mentioned above, you will discover many directories, lists of directories, websites, and forums, and you will be lead to even more resources relevant to directory submission activities. In fact, many more search engines, directories, and webmaster forums can be found by searching; the ones listed above are just a few examples of what is available. The forums, alone, are excellent resources: they are sources of the latest information and provide an up-to-date exchange of ideas. Directory submission is a task that will keep you busy for years (if you don’t lose interest before then), and is a part of doing thorough SEO work.


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