Submissions, Shareware-Style
Submissions, Shareware-Style

From The Search Engine Update
June 22, 1998

Self is an up-and-coming web promotion resource that will be of interest to many web marketers, especially those on tight budgets.

It is primarily an automated site promotion service, similar to Submit It. The difference is that Submit It and other services like it usually only allow free submission to a limited number of sites. Self has a shareware site philosophy that lets you submit to a large number right from the beginning.

Of course, webmaster Robert Woodhead encourages those using the service to support it with a voluntary subscription, and those paying from $10 upward are rewarded with extra benefits. That should sound familiar to Search Engine Watch supporters :)

Among the benefits are "Secret Net Tools," which include some search engine specific programs.

"Rankulator" is a basic position checker. It can't hold its own against a more dedicated tool such as Position Agent or WebPosition, but as an extra benefit, it's not bad. It tells you what page you are listed on for AltaVista, Excite, Infoseek and Lycos.

The Rankulator form allows you to enter three search terms, and then it will search to see if you are listed for those exact terms and combinations of them.

For example, tell it to look for "ballooning," "blimps" and "zeppelins," and it will look for those terms plus a combination such as "ballooning blimps zeppelins." If you pick your terms carefully, these permutations can be helpful. However, I suspect they are probably confusing for most people, so it's probably best to ignore all but the exact terms.

"Espionage" allows you to enter a URL and be presented with a report highlighting elements of particular interest to search engines. Meta tags are displayed without the surrounding coding, as is link text. Obviously, you can eyeball code without a tool like Espionage, but some people might find it a useful way to isolate key elements.

"Link Finder" is a link popularity checker. It queries AltaVista and HotBot to find all the pages that they know link to your site. One big plus to Link Finder is that you get all the links listed on one single page, which is convenient. It doesn't filter your own internal links, however. Thus, your own pages will appear, as well as those from outside your site linking in.

"Keyword Diffuser" is the most useful search engine tool. It is a meta tag builder, with a twist.

It is usually best to make tags that reflect the copy of each individual page. However, this is a time consuming chore, so many people simply create one set of tags used across an entire site.

The problem with this is that by varying the tags, you may have a better chance of striking the right combination to increase relevancy. Also, with some search engines, short pages with the same tags might inadvertently be considered near-duplicates and automatically excluded.

The Keyword Diffuser is helpful in both cases. You enter a set of terms, along with a set of secondary terms, and the program generates up to 100 different meta keywords tags.

Aside from the search engine tools, there are also other goodies such as the ability to store your data for a year and automatic submission to Free For All pages.

The core submission service is also extremely well done. One nice feature is that when you submit, only the information required for a particular service is requested. As you add more directories, you're prompted for extra information, as needed.

The descriptions of individual directories are also well written and helpful. Just reading about the various places to submit provides plenty of value to those new to web promotion. The ability to actually submit is almost like an extra benefit.

Overall, if you've considered trying an automated submission service, should be among your top choices.

I'm always asked about whether one should use automated services to submit to search engines, and my advice is always the same. For the major search engines, and any of the smaller topical directories that you feel are particularly important, manual submission is best. These places are most likely to bring you traffic, so it is well worth the minimal time effort to do it by hand.

As for the hundreds of minor places that list sites, it usually isn't worth the time to visit them individually, as they don't generate that much traffic. An automated tool is an efficient way to deal with these places.