But what seems so natural is complicated by the sheer number of Web search engines, directories and databases and the fact that each requires different information and ways of providing it.
AN EASY SOLUTION
Smart Web site managers are turning to "Web announcement" services to ease the problem. These servicesmost have free and paid versionsallow a marketer to list a site once and then, with the touch of a button, send an announcement to dozens or even hundreds of Web directories and search engines.
Submit It!, Bedford, Mass., one of the more popular of the announcement services, will post a site on 16 search engines and directories, including WebCrawler, Yahoo! and InfoSeek, for free. Submit It! Gold reaches more than 225 sites at a yearly cost of $59.95.
Bill Younker, CEO of Submit It!, believes services like his are becoming more valuable as more regional and special interest directories open on the Web.
"It's impossible for most people to keep up," he said.
THOUSANDS OF SITES
Another service, !Register-It! Professional, selects sites from its catalog of more than 1,000 Web search engines and directories. Interactive Publishing Alert, Brooklyn, N.Y., produces Postmaster 2, a service that reaches more than 400 sites and 1,000 individuals.
For those that want to do it all themselves, there is Web Step 100, a list of the top 100 engines and directories. This free list of links includes a brief description of each site and a direct link to the site's submission form.
While this is much more time-consuming than doing it all at once, it's recommended for submitting to some major search engines such as Yahoo!, where being included in the most appropriate category is the key to bringing targeted traffic to your site.
NOT FOR EVERYONE
Not everyone is a believer in Web submission services.
"Using a service can save time but only provides a fraction of the people that you need to reach," says Dan Houseman, VP-founder of VirtuFlex, a Web design and software tools company based in Cambridge, Mass. "A service can help you broadcast your URL, but the Web is about narrowcasting, finding the niche sites and the users you want to reach."
VirtuFlex has used Web announcement services for such clients as Hickory Farms and Distributed Technologies, but Mr. Houseman says he believes marketers should spend time searching for smaller sites that aren't on any of the announcement services. He recommends that Web sites spend "from six to eight hours a week looking for small sites to try and get links from. It takes a lot of work and intelligence to find sites that are appropriate. Even the best of services are not equipped to do this."
THE RIGHT KEYWORDS
Just submitting a site to a directory or search engine is no guarantee it will get listed quickly, or listed at all. Some directory services take up to six weeks to add new URLs to their database, while other are highly selective about the sites they link to.
If there's something most in the industry agree on, it's that no matter what service a marketer decides to use, "it is extremely important to pick the appropriate keywords and write good blurbs," said Joshua Freeman, Internet services director for Newmassmedia, Hatfield, Mass., publisher of the Advocate papers in the Northeast.
The closer your keywords come to what the searcher is looking for, the better chance of it being seen on the search results page by someone that is interested in your content.