MSN Search has begun accepting direct submissions to its index. Those with access to the paid Submit It submission service can access this feature now, and by the middle of the month, anyone should be able to submit using either the free version of Submit It or a form at the MSN Search page.
Until now, HotBot has been the most significant Inktomi-powered search site with a submission page. That means it has been serving as the primary way web developers could notify Inktomi's spidering system of new sites. This also means that HotBot has been serving a de facto submission service for all Inktomi-powered sites.
The launch of an MSN Search submission page changes this. It provides MSN Search with a degree of control over exactly what appears in the index that Inktomi builds for it.
"We wanted to have some predictable results," said Bill Bliss, MSN Search's general manager. "You could go over to HotBot and submit there, but we were not guaranteeing that was going to work."
An MSN Search submission page also means that MSN Search will have its own submission policies. These are still being developed, but so far, Bliss says that the service is inclined to limit sites to submitting only one URL -- whatever the site's home page is. After that, the service will leave it to Inktomi to look for additional pages.
In fact, this is exactly what the current "preview" submission feature at Submit It is doing. It submits one URL per site to Inktomi on MSN's behalf, rather than doing a "deep" submission of multiple pages. It will be up to the Inktomi spider to find other pages.
Inktomi has been a pretty good crawler, so you can expect it will gather many pages from your web site. But exactly how deep it will go, and how quickly pages will appear, are still issues that are being decided. For the moment, MSN Search simply says that it wants the submission process to be "robust" and better than at other search engines, in terms of turnaround time.
Obviously, much remains to be worked out. Expect there to be changes as MSN Search deals with submission issues for the first time.
Meanwhile, there has been another change related to Microsoft's recent purchase of LinkExchange. Sites listed in the LinkExchange Surf Point directory are being promoted within the MSN portal and MSN Search results page.
Go to MSN Search and look for something. On the left-hand side of the results page, you'll see a prompt to search at LinkExchange. Clicking on the link brings up matching sites from the services Surf Point Directory. You'll also find Surf Point promoted throughout the MSN portal site.
To be in Surf Point, you have to become a Link Exchange member. This is free to do. Once you become a member, you can submit your site to an appropriate place within Surf Point. I highly recommend that you enroll right now, because I expect you'll see Surf Point become an even more important resource within MSN Search. I'm planning a closer look at this directory in the future.
Besides, LinkExchange is a wonderful resource for site owners. I've been very impressed with the collection of free tools and support the service offers members under one roof. These include an easy way to set up a mailing list, a traffic counter, a site code checker and lots of good marketing resources such as the LinkExchange Digest.
There's also the banner exchange component, of course -- I've never personally found this to bring much traffic, but it remains another free option to take advantage of. Plus, banners may become more valueable now that they will be displayed within the MSN network of web sites.
See the second URL for information specifically about submitting to MSN Search via Submit It. I suspect using the preview won't make that much of a speed difference in getting listed versus waiting for the free submit page, which should appear soon. But, if you've been thinking of using the service already, this is certainly a good incentive.