Once upon a time there was a webmaster who tried hard as hard could to get listed in all the search engines. He asked the experts and they all said, “Submit your site, click here.” He did and that was that. End of story.
Don’t you love short shorts? We do. But not the leggy kind; the so-short-there-are-no-legs kind, which is the kind of short short story so-called search engine optimization experts are telling these days. In fact, the story’s so short it doesn’t have any legs to stand on. Sort of like an alabaster bust.
Everywhere you look on the Web these days you see people talking about web site submission like it’s the latest great thing. Don’t these people know this is so pre-millennial? Web site submission all but went out when Google came in. Sure, Google allows web sites to submit their URLs, but why?
Have you noticed that hardly anyone even talks about DMOZ any more? Newbies don’t even know about DMOZ, have never heard of it, wouldn’t know what it is if you brought it up at a cocktail party and probably care more about the 40th paragraph of the Magna Carta than that ancient old relic of the Internet age. The old hands in the Web marketing crowd don’t talk about DMOZ because they realize its irrelevance. It’s the only web site in the world of half an ounce of significance that relies entirely on web site submission for any information on web sites and it only possesses half an ounce of significance, not a tittle more.
Despite all of that, however, “SEO experts” are still telling people to submit their web sites to search engines and directories. Why don’t they just cut the charade? Web site submission is like the horse and plow: Real cool to gawk at as a museum piece but not much use if you want to plant your winter crop. Unless you’re just running your farm for your own good pleasure, you’d better start using modern equipment. Same goes for building a web site. Submit if you wish, but it isn’t really necessary.
All the search engines crawl the Web now, which wasn’t true in 1996, when the Google lads arrived on the scene. And there’s the BackRub. Those two Stanford guys invented Web crawlers. Now, everyone has them. Well, everyone who owns a search engine.
So why do all the search engines (except Ask.com and some rather obscure ones) still have ’submit a site’ features? Because the uninitiated keep perpetuating the myth that site submission is necessary, so the search engines, afraid of missing out on “market share” include it as a free service. Nevermind that they’re going to visit your site anyway – unless, of course, you’re just building a web site without links in or out of it. But, then, why would anyone do that? What would be the point? That would be like an apple without a core, or an automobile without an engine block. It might look pretty, but it won’t do what it’s supposed to do.
Anyhow, not to digress, but the key to search engine success these days is to build some link popularity. Without a link strategy of some kind, your web site is like a beautiful new Dodge Viper with no engine. Just a hull. A ship with no guts or glory. Imagine the Cutty Sark with no masts or anchor, or perhaps with no rudder or rigging. Think it will get very far? Likely not.
Well, your Web site must navigate the ever deepening sea of search engine optimization. It’s got to ride the waves created by the wave machine. In other words, it must meet the standards of the search engines, whose spiders crawl the Web and bring back information on the various sites they find in their path. That information is then used to catalogue and rank the Web sites according to keywords, link relevance and popularity and other notable criteria. Note that site submission is not a part of the robot menu. The golden rule is this: If you never submit your web site to a search engine or directory but you have links in or out to and from other web sites, then you’ll eventually be found by the search engines and ranked according to their algorithms.
So what does all of that mean? Does it mean that site submission is an unnecessary process? Not at all. What it does mean is that successful Webmasters approach building their web site from a position of knowledge rather than rumor. Web site submission should be a part of your link building strategy, but it should be a small part of your strategy. Other elements of link building should take priority over the low return activity of web site submission. Do it, but don’t make that your primary focus.
Now that you have your bifocals on, what should be your focus? Building links. Period. Relevant links from sites that matter. In other words, you want your links to be related to your web site. That is, if you’re building a web site on primates of the Amazonian jungle, you don’t want to link to web sites that provide information on beach balls. Secondly, focus on quality web sites of relevance. You know that beautiful web site on Titi monkeys you saw in four languages that is only two days old – what is its page rank? Does it have an Alexa rating? Are there any inbound links to that web site? Those things matter because some search engines, like Google, make that a matter of positioning for your web site. Linking to unpopular web sites won’t hurt you, but they won’t help you either. So why bother?
But don’t just focus your link building on other web sites of relevance. That might make a bit of difference but it won’t get you to the prom either. You’ve got to do a lot more than that. Remember, you need links. Lots of them. Lots of relevant links. From sites that matter. You can get those links through a number of venues including
- forums and bulletin boards
- article submissions to directories and ezine publishers
- blog posts
- social networking sites
- and press releases
just to name a few.
You’ll need to put together a long-term strategy to build links. Send articles to directories and ezine publishers. Send out press releases to the press release directories and media web sites. Visit forums of the big players in your industry and respond to posts. Be a good neighbor. Share your knowledge but don’t talk trash. Read the blogs of the knowledgeable people in your field and respond to them. Publish your own blog. All of these are useful ways to build back links to your web site. Any time you post a message somwhere other than your own web site, leave your signature with a link.
Proper web site marketing takes some time. You might want to hire some service providers to handle some of these tasks for you. It’s well worth it if you get a service provider who knows what they are doing. Do your research. Check around. Ask for references and examples of the professionals’ work. Don’t make a decision on price alone. Get the best service for your dollar. Then, the next time you are at a party and someone says, “Submit your site,” just look at them with those star-crossed eyes – the same ones you had the first time you held hands in public – and say, “Sausage and Franks have links; why don’t you?”