$137.8B U.S. ad spend for top 200 advertisers
In fact, an entire industry exists just for this purpose -- third-party automated services that will submit your site information to hundreds of search engines and directories.
On the surface this sounds like a can't-miss deal for a Web marketer, but it's not.
TOO MUCH GENERAL BUSINESS
First, you have to remember that your Web site, like your business, is targeted to a certain audience. Submitting your site to the same collection of search engines and directories that 7 million other Web sites are using sounds sort of silly in that context, doesn't it?
It's true you must make sure you're represented in the biggest and most popular search engines, because that's where a lot of users go when they are looking for something. But this is the easy way out, and it's why most search engines are becoming more and more useless to the typical end user.
A search on the term "business to business" found over 800 page matches at Alta Vista. The term "business marketing" came back with over 10,000. And therein lies the problem. The general search engines are too good for their own good.
As end-users get frustrated, they begin to look for what they need in other places, like topic-specific search engines and directories, or affinity audience collections, and, my personal favorite, human-reviewed subject indexes.
It's in these subject-specific search engines that marketers can really strike gold in terms of promoting their business sites.
For example, lets say that you're an industrial manufacturer, and you do business with other businesses. Yahoo's fine, but why not also get listed with the MRO Explorer? It's a search engine just for the manufacturing industry, with categories and topics that I bet are a dead-perfect match for your manufacturing supplier.
NARROWCAST SITE PROMOTIONS
Trying to reach the SOHO market? Money$earch is geared toward small business owners and online investors in the financial markets.
Does your Web site specifically market to women or female-oriented businesses? Well then, you better make sure you're listed in the WWWomen Search Directory, which is one of the premier search directories for women online.
Or if you want a wider focus, you can try the all-purpose Business Seek search engine.
NEW SEARCH ENGINES POPPING UP
The important point to remember is that none of these specialized search engines would have been used by any of the automatic submission services. They can't make the qualitative decisions about your Web site that need to be made in order to market it effectively.
Nor can they keep up with the literally thousands of potential outlets where you could possibly submit your site. New search engines and directories appear every day, all over the world, in hundreds of topics.
Case in point: At the largest and best-known search engine, a search for the term "business insurance" found 1,888,580 Web pages. If you looked at one every single second, all day, without stopping, it would take you three weeks to see them all.
I think I'd rather go to Insurance OnLine and start my search there.
Eric Ward is the founder of Web site awareness-building services NetPOST and URLwire, and is a former marketing director at Whittle Communications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.