Before you proceed, you need to understand something about the search engine business itself. Those that have financial backing will succeed, usually because they have financial backing and not necessarily the best algorithms, or search mechanisms. Those that have the best algorithms will usually be found out by a savvy investment group and end up with money and then succeed. Those with neither good algorithms nor money will ultimately fail.
The search engine business is like TV or radio. They’re in the eyeball game. The more eyeballs they can attract, the better the ratings and hence their profit margins. So the search engine guys work very hard to refine the algorithm because they are in the ratings war. You see, if someone enters a query with a search engine and the returns are not on target, it stands to lose market share. Conversely, by returning good results they gain market share and are listed on the various portals as alternative search engines. Look at Netscape, it offers nine different search engines you can use (10 if you count Netscape). That’s because those nine are among the best and you will be disposed (presumably) to use the Netscape site for your searches. MSN on the other hand, only lists the MSN search engine, which is powered by Inktomi and MSN reviewers.
So, what does this have to do with registering your Web site? Everything. Web registration services claim that they will register your site with hundreds, even thousands, of search engines. But if the search engine is unknown, unused or poorly maintained who cares? Secondly, they say that your site will be re-registered as frequently as every month.
I took a look at the “hundreds and thousands” claim and must say I don’t know if some of these places really are search engines. So I queried them. Admittedly, this was not the square root sample of the listings, ergo, not scientifically accurate. I found that some of these places didn’t even know they were on any kind of search engine registration list. In fact, most of the sites listed there are really Web design/hosting shops, or other registration services. So you have to question the claim of “hundreds and thousands.” On the other hand, some of the sites do offer real, genuine registration with real and genuine search engines.
Secondly, about re-registration. I asked Lycos if it was necessary to re-register monthly. The response I got was emphatically “NO!” Customer service from Lycos sent me this message: “It is only necessary to register your site one time to Lycos. Once it has been added to our catalog it is there to stay unless your site is deleted or you take steps to have it removed.” The operative phrase is “once it has been added.” The process of adding the Web site to the catalog (or index), however, can take up to 12 weeks so don’t panic or punch the computer when you submit today and don’t find your site tomorrow. For a complete review of the major search engines, click on http://home.netscape.com/ escapes/search/reviews_8.html?cp=ntserch. You’ll find a quick overview of the dos and don’ts of Web sites and how the search engines view or rank Web sites.
So now how do you do the registration? After picking up a few rocks I found a metasearch engine, http://www.savvysearch.com, that will submit to 17 engines for free. It’s a really nice program. It even provides some tips on each of the engines to which your site was submitted. You can submit directly to each of the search engines as well. Does it take long? Not really a few minutes for each site. Is it worth your effort? If your budget is limited and you want to make certain that your site was, in fact, registered then, yes, it is worth it.
On the other hand, what is the value of your time? If an hour of your time is worth, $100 for example, then you really should consider a registration service since you will spend that much time just to find all of the search engines. Then you will have to go to their sites, fill in the forms, etc.
Do the research. Then countdown to your launch. Good Luck! q
Bill Haney is the executive director of the Internet Business Alliance and principal outreach manager for Concurrent Technologies Corporation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.