Why we manually submit your site.

Each search engine/directory has different rules and criteria to determine whether and how a web page is indexed. With the directories in particular if you don’t submit your web site to exactly the right category and if you don’t follow the rules of submission, your submission will not be accepted. It’s important that you provide the right description length; it’s important that you follow their submitting guidelines; it’s important that you submit your web site to the right category, etc.

Many search engines have their own unique system for positioning a site. Let me give you an example and you will see why hand submission is important. Recently, we submitted a domain sales site for one of our clients. We wanted to make sure his site was on the best page possible for his particular services. We had to find that page.

This is what we found at the all-important Open Directory Project: Computers> Internet > Commercial Services > Domain Names > For Sale or Auction > General Brokers.

When we went to Yahoo we had to again start from scratch to find just the right page for our client. This is what we found: Business & Economy > Business to Business > Communications & Networking > Internet & WWW > Domain Registration > Brokerages.

Now you see why there are so few hand submission services. It’s time consuming but we’ve learned to do it efficiently and well. And, we can do it for you.

Do I really need to optimize – why not just submit?

Search engines rely on key words to place your site. Key words appear in your site title, your metatag site description and keyword list, and, importantly, on the actual submit page itself. The most important factor in submission is what you submit.

We are a submission service but truth be told the most important work we do is making sure your site is ready for submission.

Clients come to us when they are ready for submission. The first thing they discover is that they are not quite ready. However, they are invariably thankful for the tweaking we provide. Never go with a submission service that does not provide this pre-submission service. That’s our advice.

Why Not Use Automated Services?
This true tale comes from one of our clients. He runs a designer clothing online business. He used an automated submission service. Shortly after the company submitted on his behalf, he received a notice from the search engine confirming his submission. He was somewhat chagrined to note that the confirmation indicated that he was to be listed in the Finance and Investment category, a rather unusual placement for a designer clothing site. His disappointment was tempered somewhat when he realized his page assignment placed him right beside another poor soul promoting a cure for painful menstrual cramps. Misery loves company!

The other fact here is that many search engines now detect automated submissions and will not accept them. For example, when you submit to Search Mode you receive the following ambiguous message:

Most search engines wouldn’t bother to tell you!

What about services that submit my web site to 1500+ search engines? The majority of these 1500+ so called search engines are free links for all pages, very special interest web pages or, even worse, web sites masquerading as search engines.

Submitting your web page to these 1500+ search engines means that you’ll end up with 1500+ spam e-mail messages.

It’s quality that matters, not quantity. For that reason, HandSubmit.COM only submits to search engines that are really used by the majority of web surfers. If you ever see FAA — run for your life!

Why Not Use the Free Submission Services?

They are a bit of a ruse. Several will submit your site for free to more than 300 search engines. The reality is that they submit you only to the Open Directory Project and the listing may or may not get picked up by other search engines. Once these services have done this for you they have all your personal contact info and will chase you for their fee-for-service options. We submit you to the Open Directory Project too but count it as one submission. If that’s all you really want we’ll do it for you for free, too, but the reality is that it’s not enough.

How can all of these submission services offer everyone the same top 20/30 ranking? Seems a little suspect!

Seems like a miracle, loaves for the masses, eh? Well, some service providers charge so much they simply buy you a ranking, maybe not for all of your key word phrases but a few. I can do that for you too but I want you to know that’s what I’m doing and the real cost of it.

Service providers may top up your “top” rankings at smaller or middle sized engines where it’s easier to rank. You’ll rank higher at Hotbot.com, for example, than aol.com.

But the most common way and quite legitimate if priced fairly and you really understand what is happening is the following. Service providers utilize a tool that allows them to research search terms actually used by searchers looking for a site like yours. They find search phrases that are not too competitive (maybe thousands of searchers each month rather than tens of thousands of searchers) and they plug those phrases into your key word list, title, site description, etc.

Let’s say that ‘meadow muffins’ is an extremely popular and competitive search phrase. The service provider knows that they will never get a new site like yours a top page ranking for that term. There are reasons for this (e.g. you are a new site with no history of traffic on the internet, your competitors are emphasizing this search phrase, etc.). So, what does the service provider do – after all, they promised you 25 top 30 rankings. Well, they look for less competitive and less popular search terms like ‘baking meadow muffins’. They load that phrase and similiar phrases into your title tag and soon you have 25 top 30 rankings. They never tell you that some of those search phrases are rarely used by searchers and will not help you much.

What I can do for you is somewhat similiar to the meadow muffins example. The difference is that you will know what I’m trying to do and you can help me find several genuinely plausible search phrases related to your product or service. You will get some top rankings without the inflated cost and all the impression management and unrealistic expectations promoted by the ‘guaranteed top placement’ people.

I will then help you with the other things you will have to do to maintain and expand your ranking with other phrases.

How do you explain the huge price variance from one submission service to another?

Greed, avarice, big dreams, huge overhead…

But I think its disgusting. Every once in a while I think about jumping on the bandwagon especially when I have to convince clients that my service is fully professional even though I charge a fraction of what the competition charges. I explain that basically I charge for my time and not the special knowledge associated with this mysterious art. And, I explain, that some of the charges and services offered by the competition are unnecessary add-ons designed to jack up the price. It’s the old trick of selling you something you don’t need and won’t benefit from. How many of those vacuum cleaner attachments have you ever used?

Quite a few of my clients are refugees from these ‘programs’ (for want of a better term).

Let me illustrate. I came across a site the other day with several options ranging from $1500 to $7100 with monthly maintenance charges ranging from $160 to $950. Duh, I charge $72 and recommend maintenace every few months! For the lowest set up charge they promise to develop 20 key word phrases for you. For the highest fee they will develop a hundred key word phrases.

Reality check. These days search engines will accept 10 key words from you of which several should be multi-word phrases. Altogether you’ll have three or four phrases in your metatags which need to be carefully selected. It doesn’t hurt to have 20 keyword phrases however because they can be worked into your front page (not metatags) as some engines read maybe the first 200 words of your front page and refer to metatags only if there is not sufficient text. So, at the lowest end of the price spectrum ($1500) this service is offering something plausible. They go on to mention the sophisticated industry technology they use to develop these 20 key word phrases. Here’s the scoop – virtually everyone in this industry utilizes the same free technology provided to it’s subscribers by overture.com. It takes about two minutes to generate a list of plausible search phrases although it may take a couple of hours to refine the list through client consultations. But $1500 and then monthly maintenance!!! It’s a rip-off designed to attract businesses with more money than brains.

Several of my clients are refugees from these high priced ‘programs’ (for want of a better term) while others wonder if they should take a chance on a low priced option such as HandSubmit.COM. One of them, LogoExcellence, was attracted to a company providing gateway pages (a potential spam issue). He’d already signed on with me but wasn’t ranked on the engines quite yet and was wondering if doorway pages was the way to go.

Well, I knew for $25.95 (my fee when I started out a couple of years ago) I could not provide this sort of service and I also knew that doorway pages* were a potential spam issue that might cause the client to be dropped from engines. The company also promised to provide a guaranteed top 20 ranking for 20 key words to a appear among the top 20 search engines. All for an annual fee of $1800. I don’t make such guarantees because living up to the guarantee is not always in the client’s best interest (believe it or not).

At the time though, I wondered if I could give this client comparable service for a low fee and without attracting the spam police. Several months later I reviewed his rankings. For comparision purposes,
I narrowly focused on the same top 20 engines/directories the $1800 company positioned for. This is what I found for:

Not bad! Nineteen top 20 rankings for $25.95. One short of the twenty he had been promised for $1800 without the problems associated with doorway pages. Within in a year, I boosted up my prices to $72.

* Basically a doorway page is like submitting your front page 100 times but with a slightly different key word emphasis each time. One time I found one of my ‘refugee’ clients occupying position #77 to #99 on Lycos. Each listing a slightly different version of the same page. Ranking 77th isn’t a great ranking and do you think Lycos likes having their engine users clicking from page to page only to see the same listing? This is what’s known as spam!

Is it the end of free submissions?

This is true in some respects. But most engines still provide a free listings option and for the most part it’s not worth paying them for the listing.

There are exceptions however. In our judgment Inktomi and Teoma are worth payng for. First of all, they get you listed in a few days (rather than the normal 5 weeks to two months) and they reindex your site every few days. This is important relative to optimization. Any changes to your site designed to improve your rankings are picked up quickly by these service providers. There was a point a couple of years ago when AltaVista had not refreshed or reindexed their site for one year. That meant that any changes to your site would not have been included for that long. Many engines refresh monthly.

Inktomi charges $39 for listing but gets you on aol, msn, hotbot and several others within three days. Teoma charges $30 and gets you on in seven days. Teoma is now huge and has been dubbed the google killer.

One way to judge your submission/optimization service providers is to see how much they charge to list you with these engines. Some charge you so much they simply submit you to them without telling you. You get impressed because you get on quickly and never know that anyone can get on quickly.

Other services charge you what Inktomi or Teoma would charge you and even more. They never tell you that Inktomi and Teoma give them significant service provider discounts. My service is the only one I’ve seen that shares that discount with clients. You save $8 when HandSubmit.COM submits to these services for you. But the real advantage is that we get to see how well we have done with optimization and if we need to we can tweak your site and in three days check again.

At this time, we are not recommending other paid listing services and suggest we just submit you for the free listing.

In terms of pay-per-click services we recommend overture.com.

Why monthly payments are a tax on your naivete.

Just in case some of you were wondering about the Penn and Teller reference. They were magicians who became famous for exposing the secrets of magicians.

Why do optimization/submission service providers charge monthly rates in addition to initial optimization and submission fees? Maybe greed or in some cases a way to charge you a lot by spreading it out indefinitely. It’s a rip-off. Think about it. What is the business of search engines and directories? They want to provide the best search results possible for searchers. The better they do that the more searchers they attract. If you are a well optimized site attracting a reasonable amount of traffic relative to your niche, why would they de-list you? Well, they wouldn’t! You may disappear off an engine from time to time. Say your server is down for maintenance while the engine is re-indexing its listings including you. If you are not there you will not be re-indexed and you will disappear. Not from everywhere but from that engine. This assumes that for the one or two hours or let’s say even a day that you are down the engine, which re-indexes its listings once every few weeks or once every few months happens to do so while you are down. Well, it happens. Is it likely to be the case that a second search engine would happen to drop by at the same unfortunate moment. Extremely remote. Still, most service providers want you to pay $29 or $39 every month year after year just to prevent you disappearing from an engine. Duh! Now I live in a northern clime so you southerners may have to forgive this analogy. But do you contract for a guy to cut your grass 12 months a year or just in the summer months when it needs cutting?

It is totally unnecessary for you to pay for monthly maintenance. Indeed, some engines and certainly all the directories consider it spam to re-submit on a monthly basis. Some don’t mind and some periodically purge some listings but this is not their purpose in business. What you need is someone to check your listings and both re-optimize and resubmit where and when necessary but not more than every few months. Think about what makes sense and remember www stands for wild, wild west!!!

The Dao of Search Engine Submission

Now those of you curious enough to click on this one I want as clients. I teach a course in Chinese history and culture (in one of my other lives). I’m intrigued with the philosophy of Daoism and its related concepts of ying and yang.

You may know that ying (e.g. darkness, female, earth) and yang (e.g. light, male, heaven) are mutually dependent opposites. Western philosophy is based on the notion of mutually exclusive opposites (e.g. good vs evil). Chinese philosophy is based on the notion of opposites that arise together and are mutually dependent. Simply, you cannot have one without the other (man without woman, strength without weakness, good without evil, light without dark, one end of a line without the other end).

For example, yang is strength and ying is weakness. When strength is at its greatest, we have the beginning of weakness. To illustrate, in a great storm the wind might break a mighty oak tree whilst the weak, young sapling beside it simply bends and survives another day. Here, you can’t say that strength is better than weakness or that weakness is inferior to strength. Weakness is the beginning of strength and strength is the beginning of weakness. One of the foundations of Chinese martial arts is to use weakness to overcome strength. Your opponent strikes out at you and you step aside and use your opponents strength to throw him to the ground.

So it is possible to be too strong. Too much strength begets weakness. I see this with some of my search engine submission clients, usually those who are refugees from other submission services. To boost their rankings they tried to be too smart, to outfox the search engines, go strength against strength. The problem is that the search engines are very strong and they employ staff to thwart those who try to out-muscle them.

How do site owners try to out-muscle the engines? There are many tricks: keyword stuffing, link farms, invisible text, malicious redirects (gateway/doorway pages), mirror sites, etc. These individuals often find themselves penalized by the engines or delisted and they never know why it happened. At HandSubmit.COM, I prefer to use weakness to overcome strength. I obtain high rankings by playing within the rules, barely within the rules. When you sign on, you will see how, just as in martial arts, ying overcomes yang.

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