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I just advised a client to concentrate on the top 4 search engines according to Nielsen NetRating (Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL). Of the 4, only Yahoo asked for a fee in order to submit. My client then asked me if you pay for submission, do you get listed faster? Problem is there is sooo much info about search engine submissions out there it is making my head spin and I dont know the answer! I didn't see any way to even pay for inclusion to google, msn or aol- except for adwords, etc.
So what's the deal? Do you pay to submitt a site anymore, or no?
Thanks in advance!
I really haven't kept up with search engine strategies since 1998
The world of search engines had changed dramatically since 1998 :)
Of the four "search engines" you mentioned, three (Google, Yahoo and AOL) currently use Google, which does not require submission.
AOL currently uses Inktomi, which operates a strange hybrid system. You can pay to have one or more URLs included (you pay per URL, the site does not get spidered). Or you can wait until their spider finds you, when it may well index your whole site for free.
There are unending discussions on the Paid Inclusion Engines and Topics [webmasterworld.com] forum about whether paid inclusion in Inktomi is worthwhile or not, the latest one being The Value of Inktomi PFI? [webmasterworld.com]. Read and decide for yourself.
You may notice that I have twice italicised the word "currently". Yahoo has over the past several months bought a whole lot of properties (Inktomi, Overture and thus AltaVista and FAST's consumer search operations). It is universally believed that at some time Yahoo will use its own search technology instead of Google.
MSN has announced that it will develop its own search technology at some time, and has started hiring staff. So at some point it will stop using Inktomi. We live in interesting times.
Also you write about submitting to Yahoo. Such a submission is to the Yahoo Directory, which has lost almost all of its importance since Yahoo stopped using it in responding to search queries. The directory is only used by those who browse it.
An excellent post to help you get back into the swing of things would be Brett's Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone [webmasterworld.com].
You will quickly learn a lot about contemporary SEO by browsing here, but beware: This place is addictive :(
Someone will come along and correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the fee for Yahoo only guarantees that they will look at your site--there is no guarantee that they will list it.
Absolutely correct, photon, though in practice few sites with any "real content" get turned down.
While on the topic, Inktomi's pay for inclusion (PFI) only guarantees that they will index the URL, no guarantee, explicit or implicit, as to how well or otherwise it will do in searches on their site.
You can get into Inktomi without paying if you have patience; they, as most will, including Teoma/Jeeves (paid submit), will eventually find you through links. Otherwise, for a quick start Inktomi pay for inclusion is a viable option if there's a site that's in a hurry.
There's Google, also supplying search for AOL and for the time being pending a soon-expected switchover, Yahoo. Yahoo submission is just for the directory which *can* help with rankings to a degree, but regular search is not currently paid, it's automatic when you're in the Google index (for the time being, which is short).
So that leaves AOL, who just signed again with Google for another few years, Google itself (you can submit but they will find you by following links), and Yahoo, currently in flux, as the top 3 - followed by MSN.
A good ODP listing will help you get into some engines and can be a help with some for rankings (imho).
As a side note, Yahoo has purchased Inktomi (as well as buying into Alta Vista and FAST via Overture) - so it's a coin toss which engine they'll end up using when the Google pact expires, but the odds are heavily in favor of Inktomi.
That pretty well covers it, and aside from the basic inclusion information, as far as optimization is concerned if you optimize "pages" for Inktomi and "sites" for Google, including quality links, you're pretty well covered across the board.