Submitting For Free

Now that all of LookSmart's major partners are offering the paid LookSmart Express Submit program on their own Add URL pages, a number of people believe that they must also pay a fee to be listed in the non LookSmart-powered portions of these search engines. Huh? What? Don't worry. Just come along with me on a little tour, where I hope to make more sense out of the whole submission mess that has developed.


As a refresher, LookSmart is a human-compiled directory of web sites. While editors might find your site naturally (and list it for free), you are more likely to get listed if you actually submit to LookSmart and pay the submission fee required of all commercial web sites. Let's look at the submission options....

LookSmart Submit Page

You can submit your site to LookSmart by starting on this page. Commercial sites must choose either the $199 "Express Submit" option or the $79 "Basic Submit" option. What's the difference? Time! Paying the higher fee means that LookSmart will give you a yes or no answer about being listed within 48 hours. Paying less means it may take up to 8 weeks until you are listed. Not a commercial site? Then click on the little "Read More" link that appears at the bottom of the page, after the Basic Submit option. Make sure you really qualify. If so, good news. However, unlike the paid options, there's no guarantee that you'll get a yes or no answer back within a set period of time.

After LookSmart

OK, you submitted to LookSmart and got listed. What does that mean? Your site is now available to those searching at the LookSmart site itself, of course. However, it will now also appear at different search engines across the web, such as....

MSN Search

MSN Search is one of LookSmart's partners. After doing a search, more than likely the results you see will come from the LookSmart directory, though MSN Search may rank and sort them differently than if you did the same search at LookSmart itself. So, if you are listed with LookSmart, you're listed with MSN Search in the best way possible. There's no need to use the MSN Search Add URL page.

Have no money? Didn't get listed with LookSmart? There may be hope yet for you at MSN Search. Some of its results come from the Inktomi search engine, which crawls the web. If you are listed with Inktomi, then you have a chance of appearing in the "Web Pages" section of MSN Search's results (the "Web Directory" section is powered by LookSmart listings). How do you submit? Well....

MSN Search Add URL page

At the very bottom of MSN Search's Add URL page is a link that takes you to its Inktomi submit form. Look at the last paragraph that begins, "For profit sites may be submitted at no charge for inclusion in the Web Pages section of the MSN Search." You'll see a "Read More" link at the end. Click on that. Congratulations! You can now submit your page to Inktomi. Well, maybe -- the confirmation page that comes up says instead that you've submitted to LookSmart as a non-profit site. Don't worry -- either the URL is passed along, or Inktomi will learn about you via the next step...

HotBot Add URL page

Some of HotBot's results come from Inktomi, so you can use its Add URL form to tell Inktomi about your pages -- and that means those that are accepted should eventually show up in the Inktomi-powered portions of MSN Search and at other Inktomi-powered search engines.


Some of Excite's listings come from LookSmart. So if you submitted to LookSmart and got accepted, you may show up for those who chose the "Directory Search" option at the top of the page, after performing a search. However, the main results at Excite come from its own crawler. To appear here, it helps to submit your site. That takes us to....

Excite Add URL page

This page prominently features the LookSmart Express Submit option. However, you're not interested in that. Remember, we already submitted to LookSmart at the beginning of this tour. Instead, at the bottom of the page is an option that says "Click here to add your site to the Excite Search Index only." That's what you want. To make it easier for you, here's the link itself:

Excite Crawler Add URL Form

Fill out the form, and you're done -- you've submitted to the Excite crawler for free, which also means you may show up at other Excite-owned search engines such as WebCrawler and Magellan.


Just like Excite, some of AltaVista's listings come from LookSmart. If you do a search, then select the "Directories" option at the top of the page, much of that information comes from LookSmart's listings. However, AltaVista's main results come from its own spidering of the web. To appear in them, as with Excite, it helps to submit. That means using the AltaVista Add URL page....

AltaVista Add URL Form

Hey, there's that LookSmart Express option again! But you don't want it -- remember, we already submitted to LookSmart. So, go past it and choose the "Submit" button that appears in the "AltaVista Search Index" section. That will bring up a new form -- with yet another option to submit to LookSmart. Ignore this second suggested sale and use the box that says "AltaVista Search Index: Add or Remove a Page" to enter your URL. That's it -- you've submitted to the AltaVista crawler for free.

In Conclusion / Some Observations

Why on earth would you want to submit to LookSmart from anywhere other than at LookSmart itself? Why are these LookSmart forms showing up everywhere? Money. If you submit to LookSmart from one of its partners, they share in some of the submission fee. Unfortunately, this is clearly causing confusion for some people, based on messages I'm getting and posts that I've seen elsewhere. If you want to support one of LookSmart's partners, then fine -- use the Express Listing options they provide. Or, go directly to LookSmart and do it. Just only do one of them. That's all you need, because ultimately, the Express Submit information all goes back to LookSmart anyway.

I recommend going to LookSmart directly because it help better ensure you'll be listed in the right category, as one of the articles below explains. Another reason is only at LookSmart will you find the lower $79 option being offered. While I recommend paying more and saving the time, those with budgets may want the lower price.

LookSmart also raised the price of its "Basic" submit option last month from $49 to $79, just two months after it said testing of different price points had ended. The fee was increased so that LookSmart could cover its costs and share revenue with others offering the service.

"The $49 was a problematic price point, but at the $79, that's where we can share something with our partners," said Kristin Morse, LookSmart's director of ecommerce.

One month after the increase, LookSmart's major partners are still offering only the higher $199 fee.

Along with the price increase, LookSmart also said it planned to soon announce a guarantee to provide a yes or no answer about being listed to any qualified non-commercial sites that used its free submit option. Such a guarantee has yet to materialize -- I'll let you know, if it does.

How about those crawlers that you submitted to. When will the traffic start? It could be never. Submitting doesn't mean getting listed, and even if you get listed, that doesn't mean you will rank well for particular terms. However, you do want to submit to at least start things off.

How LookSmart Works
Explains more about submitting to LookSmart, including why preselecting the right category can be important.

LookSmart First To Charge Commercial Sites
The Search Engine Update, Aug. 2, 2000