Search Engines and Directory Submissions – The Basics

People expend lots of energy and discussion on getting listed in search engines. There are companies that promise all sorts of amazing results if you just pay them a fee to perform their often questionable tactics. And people invest inordinate amounts of time fretting over where they are in the search results.

Truth is, there’s really only a few things you need to know about search engine and directory submissions.


Often people call everything a “search engine”. But that is technically incorrect.

There are two kinds of sites people use for finding things – search engines and directories. It is important to understand the distinction because they each require a different tactic to get listed properly.

A search engine takes the URL you submit and sends a piece of software called a spider out to it. The spider builds information about your site based on the page content. An example of a search engine is Google. So the important point here is: how your site pages appear in a search engine is entirely dependent on the content the spider finds on your pages.

A directory, on the other hand, is a manually compiled and organized list of links. When you submit your information to a directory, you give the directory the description and keywords it should use and that is what it uses to create a description of the page. An example of a directory is Yahoo!. The important point here is: how you appear in a directory is entirely dependent on what you put in the form when you register the site.

The major Internet search/directory sites (Yahoo, Google) are hybrid sites. They incorporate aspects of both search engines and directories.


The goal of search engines and directories is not helping people find web sites. The goal of search engines and directories is to help people find content relevant to the terms on which they search.

That statement right there should clarify a lot. Search engines and directories love good content. They hate tricks that game the system. And they actively look for, and ban, sites engaging in questionable practices.

Relevant and frequently updated content is the only sure strategy to produce results with search engines and directories.


1.) There are only three major search hybrids nowadays worth the botherGoogle, Yahoo and MSN.

2.) Aside from creating good content that people will read and link to, and making sure your site is reachable by these engine’s spiders, there isn’t a lot more you should do.

3.) It is a safe bet that any site which asks for more information during the submission process than just your site’s URL is a directory. Be sure what you enter contains the terms under which you want to be found.

So the moral of the story is:
A.) build a content-rich site people want to read,
B.) Submit the URL to Google, Yahoo and MSN, and
C.) use descriptive language that contains the terms you want to be found under.

In other words, submit and forget. Focus your energy on making your site the best source of information on the topic(s) you want to be found under.


Now, all that said, there are literally hundreds of subject-specific search engines and directories to which it is worth registering your site.

Say, for example, your site is about rare coins. You would want to make sure it is listed in a site like Coinlink.

As you might have guessed, there are directories of search engines that only index content on specific subjects. Here are the major directories for finding this type of search engine:

Another method is to go to Google and, together with keywords that describe your site, add, in quotes, the following phrases after it:

“submit your site”
“submit a site”
“submit site”
“suggest a site”
“suggest site”
“add a site”
“add url”
“add a url”
“suggest a url”

So, for example, if a keyword phrase describing your site is “rare coins”, you’d format the queries like this:

“rare coins”, “submit your site”
“rare coins”, “submit a site”
“rare coins”, “submit site”
“rare coins”, “suggest a site”
“rare coins”, “suggest site”
“rare coins”, “add a site”
“rare coins”, “add url”
“rare coins”, “add a url”
“rare coins”, “suggest a url”

Cut-and-paste each, one at a time, into Google’s search blank.

What you should get back are all the web pages with those two phrases on them. That is in theory, anyway. What you actually get back are web pages with those two phrases on them, mixed together with lots of web pages that aren’t relevant. You’ll have to pick through the results and pull out the pages relevant to your needs. You’ll want to look for sites that are clearly directories and that also accept submissions.

Once you go through the above processes, you should end up with a list of search engines and directories that accept submissions from Web sites that cover a specific topic.

Involved in Internet marketing since 1995 (when it officially became a profession), Richard Hoy advises on, and helps execute, Internet marketing efforts for solopreneurs and clients of digital marketing agencies. His current focus is search engine optimization for books on Amazon and for local businesses on Google.