You may have noticed a slight redesign to Excite last month, and there were also some other changes that have come up in the past weeks. I'll be taking a longer look at happenings there in the near future, but here's a rundown on some key alterations.
+ Excite's directory, which is powered by LookSmart, is being promoted more. After a search, you'll a "Web Directory" link near the top of the results page, in the "Show Results" section. Selecting this will bring up matching categories and web sites from the Excite directory, rather than from Excite's crawler-based results.
+ Links to the directory also appear below sites listed in Excite's crawler-based results, if they are also listed within the directory. For example, a search for "oscars" from Excite's home page brings up Oscar.com as the top site listed. Below the URL, you'll see a line called "Excite Directory Match" with a link to "Best Movie/TV Resources on the Web." Selecting the link takes you to that category, where the Oscar.com site is listed among others.
+ New sidebar text ads are now appearing on the right-hand side of the results page, in response to some searches. Called "Enhanced Sponsor Boxes" or ESBs, these went live in the first week of November. Unlike sidebar text ads sold by Ask Jeeves and Google, these are not self-serve. You currently purchase them as part of a banner buy, through Excite's regular ad sales force. To see some live, try a search for "casinos" and you'll see an entirely text-based ad for Casino-on-Net appear, below a graphical one for the same company.
+ Excite has signed a deal with paid links service FindWhat.com to promote FindWhat.com to those making use of Excite's Freetailer service. Freetailer allows anyone to set up an online store with Excite for free. FindWhat links are NOT being integrated within Excite's search results. This is simply a deal to promote FindWhat to Freetailer merchants.
By the way, if you sign up for a Freetailer account, you'll discover an "Upgrade Zone" where sites can get extra services for a fee. One of these is called "Search Engine Registration," which has this enticing pitch:
"Who better to list your site with search engines than a company that is a search engine? We have the expertise to help you be successful by listing your site with the Internet's best portals and directories."
Selecting the link then brings up a further pitch: "Have our in-house experts submit your site to 250 search engines, including Excite, Lycos, WebCrawler, AltaVista, HotBot, and InfoSeek."
Excite is almost certainly not offering this service using any of its in-house staff, making the suggestion that you're getting any special inside search engine knowledge surprisingly misleading. In all likelihood, the service is instead being provided by a third party search engine submission company. I'm still waiting for confirmation from Excite about this and will let you know if it turns out I'm incorrect.
In either case, the amount of expertise offered by this service will be minimal. It looks to be a basic mass URL submit program. In other words, the home page of your Freetailer site is apparently submitted to multiple search engines, but no optimization of your home page is done nor is your site likely submitted to major directories. This type of basic submission has some minimal value, but you can do as well for less money at a place such as SelfPromotion.com.