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I'd say that search engine submission programs are pretty much history in that now all the sites that bring you traffic either require some kind payment, or pick up your link from another site without submission required.
So hand submitting is pretty much the way to go as when you pay for inclusion, pay per click, or pay for a listing, you'll need to do it by hand. Google will find you from a site that is linked to your site.
Google: submit [google.com] the root url...you are done
Altavista: Using ransom [addurl.altavista.com] note page. not scriptable.
Hotbot: No evidence that submissions [hotbot.lycos.com] will do any good. Lots of evidence that scripted submissions will get you banned.
Fast: Great spider. Submit the root [alltheweb.com]...done
WiseNut: Another great spider. Submit the root [wisenut.com]...done
Teoma: They have submission? ;-)
You can't risk a directory submission to the ODP, 'hoo, looksmart, or About.com to a program.
So, what's that leave to submit too? Only a few thousand ffa pages that can hurt you.
Don't risk it.
The days of submission programs and services are gone. Little is right, 8 tracks in a dvd world.
We need to make sure that people really start to understand this because there are online submission services out there still pushing the auto submission snake oil.
Do the rest really matter? My weblogs suggest not (for the few sites that I have submitted to lots of small SEs and Directories.
Are we saying there is no point using WP-Gold or any of the others? Has anyone tried selfpromotion.com? - You can select from a huge list of SEs which your site is submitted to, and its free. Does this help or hinder your site?
For submission? Yes absolutly that is what we are saying Kapow! It's time to call it a day on auto submission. It's history. The risks outweight the rewards. There is certainly ZERO benefit from using a submission service.
The only possible exception I could see would be an ISP that provides submission for all new clients. Even then, a simple submission page with links would suffice.
Surely no significant SE is going to penalize your position because of a ffa link ???
Thats an open invitation for people to submit their competitors to a few thousand ffa.
I thought there was general agreement that a bad ffa link neither helps nor hinders your SE position.
The benefits of autosubmission are:
1) Saves you time, you fill out the form once.
Your time is a cost. If your time costs $25 an hour, and using an autosubmitter saves you an hour a year, that is a worthy saving.
2) Does error checking on your input (at least, mine does!)
"Oops.. Typo in your url. Oh well, guess you won't get indexed until you notice and resubmit."
3) Makes it easy to do reminder ("I'm not dead yet") resubmissions every so often.
Your ISP brainfarted when Google came over to check on you. Resubmitting every couple of months might get you back in a few weeks faster.
4) Makes it cost effective to submit to the 2nd-tier indexes . Here I'm talking about the guys below the top 10. Maybe 40-60 of them. All told you might get 100-1000 clicks a year from all of these guys combined. If you had to submit to 50 of them at 10 minutes per, that's over 8 hours = $200 = not worth it. If you can do it in an hour, that's $25. Say you get 250 clicks a year, that's 10 cents a click. Now it's worth it.
To put it simply, if you're hammering a few nails, a hammer is fine. If you're hammering a lot of nails, you get a nail gun. A submission tool is a nail gun for urls.
That said, a submission SERVICE is more than just a submission tool. A good service helps its users prepare their pages for search engine listings -- and for the visitors that the listings will generate.
In fact, the educational aspects are the most important element.
Do you suppose all the hub-bub about guestbooks there a couple months ago was just by accident? Shoot, there were people running scripts signing guestbooks. What about all the fake programs that are just designed to build link pop? Fake awards programs (run by some pretty influential people in seo), entire fake sites complete with forums, guestbooks, and other stuffed content. How are the se's suppose to combat that? They don't take the long hard road, they do what we do - the easiest solution - delete 'em, ban 'em, or bury 'em. There's 5billion main pages on the web today, they can afford to be choosy.
Ya, I think ffa links hurt you, and I think you can hurt your competition by submitting them to ffa pages through one of the online submission systems. It's been going on for several years, and will continue to go on. Don't give the se's more credit than they deserve.
I split off [webmasterworld.com] the "submission for free" discussion.
You are correct about reading here however I differ with you slightly about the books. The challenge with books is that as soon as they are printed they are out of date. The net changes on a day to day basis so the best way to keep up with those changes is to use the net itself for your information.
There are a number of places to find this information but, even though I am heavily biased, these fora are unarguably the best and most up to date resource available. I often find information here before hearing about it through other SEO channels.
So, dvb_99, if I were you, I would be heading EliteWeb's advice and reading reading reading here as much as you can.
If you are shooting for rankings within your site and not creating generic doorways, using privacy policies for link farms, creative frame tricks, etc.. things haven't changed all that much over the years.
When starting out it can help to pick up a book to learn the basics and the find the answers to most of your questions here.