Priming the Search Engines
That catchy phrase soon became a nice business for some folks now located at www.submit-it.com. They started with a free Web-based service that let you fill out a form about your site and then automatically (well, almost automatically...most of the "paper"work was done for you) submit that information to most of the top search engines.
Now their products and services include Submit-It Online, which lets you enter your data on the Web and submit it to hundreds of search engines and directories; Submit-It Desktop, which runs on Windows 95 and greater systems, and performs about the same functions as Submit-It Online at about the same price; and even some consulting services (they'll announce your site personally and even help you tweak your META tags for $395). With all this, they've remembered their roots and still provide a useful free service. Maybe that's why they can claim to have helped people announce almost 1.5 million Web pages since their beginning in early 1995.
I've tried both Submit-It Online and the new Submit-It Desktop 2.0. Desktop has a pretty slick interface, gives you that nice, secure feeling that everything's there on your computer, and generates well-formatted reports of which submissions have succeeded and which failed. Online has always been up when I've tried it, remembers everything I've done up to the present time, and can also (with some browsers) verify exactly where you stand with some of the search engines. Of the two, I find Online to be more straightforward to use for submissions, and would certainly be more useful for someone with just a few sites. Desktop could be more useful for someone with clients or who could profit from some of the extra details and features.
The Submit-It folks did go to some lengths to explain that -- contrary to some feelings or rumors one way or the other -- neither the Desktop program nor the Online service does anything differently that you would if you were submitting your site info by hand. It's just one heck of a lot faster.
Unfair Advantage -- More Hints for Hire
Previously we talked about a book full of hints and tips for boosting your site's rating in the search engines. We've found another one which we consider worthwhile, with the interesting title The Unfair Advantage Book on Winning The Search Engine Wars. This 45-page book (almost 19,000 words if you count that way) is published by Planet Ocean Communications for $97, which includes a 12 month subscription to their update newsletter and a totally unconditional, 90-day money-back guarantee. For the impatient, you can order it via secure server and take delivery via the Web.
Unfair Advantage teaches you how not to waste your time; for instance, if you've heard of the 80/20 rule, you might figure that 80% of people use only 20% of the search engines. According to this book, it's more lopsided than that: 95% of people use just 8 search engines, and those are the only ones you should really worry about. The authors spend fully half the book explaining exactly how to tailor your site for each of these "big 8" search engines. You might wonder how useful that is, since 8 engines probably (and, in fact, do) have different algorithms, criteria, etc., but they teach you how to work around that too. And the amount of detail is incredible: for instance, they point out that Infoseek has both "instant" and "batch" URL submission facilities, and how a smart person can use these to their advantage.
You also learn what not to do, i.e. "spamdexing" (keyword spamming) and why it's a bad idea...and also how to use a less-severe form of spamdexing to "legally" improve your ratings. You'll learn about invisible text, keyword density, phantom pixels, and a host of other tricks (if you've never heard of any of these, you're clearly a good candidate for purchase :-). The monthly update newsletter, which explains in detail what changes have taken place internally in the top search engines, is alone probably worth the cost of the book.
Saving The Best For Last?
Throughout this series, we've told you about books and programs and Web sites that give you pieces of the puzzle: how the search engines work, how to tweak your site, how to submit your site for best results, etc.
But now we've found a single site that gives you virtually all this information, free (although donations are gladly accepted, in return for more detailed information). It's called Search Engine Watch, and they have a news page, a (free) newsletter that keeps you up to date with changes in the major search engines, tons of information and links, and even updates on how responsive the top engines are. All told, Search Engine Watch is a textbook example of how good a site can be when it specializes in one topic, and we like their straightforward, non-hyped approach to the subject. Put it on your permanent bookmark file!
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