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I was talking from a client's point of view. Not from an expert Webmaster.
Normally, clients, in the US, say, "I wany listing in top 10-15-20 engines, then what should one usually say...one cannot confuse the client...by going into details.....is there any need to educate him further, when he just wants to get listed/ranked with MAJOR SEARCH ENGINES.(and expecting to know the top 20 odd names.
Looking forward to your replies.
Google (an absolute must)
AOL (Inktomi and ODP data)
MSN (Looksmart and Inktomi)
FAST/All the Web
Lycos (uses FAST data)
HotBot (uses Inktomi - very little traffic)
Northern Light (very little traffic, but not to be neglected)
Only 3 or 4 of those actually bring any amount of decent traffic, but the picture is entirely different in the UK and different parts of Europe. There are also search engines specific to certain countries, so it depends on where the client is.
In the case of FAST, their results are used globally, so the effects of being ranked well with them is multiplied. Then, there are paid services such as Overture, whose results are shown at many search engines.
So there is no set answer, it will vary from place to place. But I do not believe that there are 20 that bring significant traffic in any one place; it's actually much fewer.
For example, here's a thread on the 5 most important search engines in the UK [webmasterworld.com]. Then, it varies within each country in Europe as you can see in our European Forum [webmasterworld.com] and our forum covering [url=.http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum32/index.htm]Asia and the Pacific Region[/url] covers other areas.
For FAST submit at [alltheweb.com...] - very important, their results are used globally, and they update very quickly, too.
Another important factor is to make sure and be included in Open Directory Project [dmoz.org].
Here are the top search engines in Japan right now: