Tips on getting listed in Yahoo (and the other big indexes):
(C)1999-2000, Robert Woodhead
The big indexes, Yahoo, Open Directory, About.com (formerly The Mining Company), Snap, LookSmart, and Go.com, are a great source of hits. But most people don't properly submit to them, and even if they do get in, their listings are substandard.
Proper submission to these indexes is becoming even more crucial because there is a pronounced trend towards using "human-edited" indexes in search results. In particular, many of the major search engines are starting to use Open Directory index listings in their search results, making it the #2 most important place to list your site, behind Yahoo.
Here's how to optimize your listings for all the big indexes:
Yahoo is without a doubt the single most important index on the Internet (though Open Directory (see below) is rapidly gaining on them!), and it is an absolute must that you get listed here. After a great deal of thought, I have decided to disable automated submissions to Yahoo (on SelfPromotion.com), because getting listed is so important, and such a "delicate" process, that it is better to do it by hand.
Yahoo comes in three flavors; the main (original) Yahoo; the international Yahoo sites; and the regional (city) Yahoo sites. The original site is by far the toughest to get into, so if your site is in, or relates to, a country or region served by one of the other Yahoo indexes, you should first try to get listed in them. If you get accepted by one Yahoo index, you almost always get into them all - and if for some reason getting into a regional Yahoo index doesn't get you listed in the main Yahoo index, then the fact that you are in the regional index will be a big help when you apply to the main index - and you should point it out in your application.
Robert's How-to-get-Yahoo'd Advice
First, be patient. It often takes 6-8 weeks for the overworked Yahoo staff to even look at your site (though recently, I've been seeing sites accepted in a week or less IF the submission followed the rules to the absolute letter)
Yahoo now has a "Business Express" submission service. You can pay $199 and get a quick thumbs-up/thumbs-down on your application, but only if your site is a US-based commercial site. Paying the money does not guarantee a listing, and the advice I give lower down about crafting a good submission still applies. For more information about Yahoo Business Express, use this url:
Warning: Read their terms and conditions carefully before using Business Express.
My personal feeling is that unless getting a decision about your Yahoo listing quickly is absolutely crucial, then you shouldn't use Business Express. What Business Express buys you is a faster decision, and perhaps a little more attention to your submission. But if your submission is properly formatted, you should get in anyway (just slower).
However, if you submit properly, don't get in, and you're absolutely sure that your site is good enough to get into Yahoo, then it might be worth using Business Express to get them to take another look quickly. But for most people, it's not necessary.
Second, don't even THINK about bothering them until your site is 100% up and running, with nothing "under construction." A good rule of thumb - if it hasn't won several awards, it won't be good enough to get into Yahoo. Good site design, fast loading pages, and content are important. If you want advice on how to win awards, I have some on my site. You can find it here:
Third, be gently insistent. If you apply and don't get in after two months, submit again. But before you do, go look at your site once again, and see if you can't improve it.
Whatever you do, do NOT bombard Yahoo with submissions. If you apply more than once a month, they'll ignore you until the end of time.
Another good way to get banned from Yahoo is to submit a site to a regional index that has nothing to do with that region. Boy do they HATE that!
If you are still having problems getting in, or getting a change made to your listing, see the note later in this article about the "secret" Yahoo email address.
How to apply to Yahoo
First of all, I suggest you print out this article so you can have it handy when you visit Yahoo.
Visit the main Yahoo site or a regional site (as appropriate), and do a search (your site title is a good one) to determine if you are already in the Yahoo index or not. If you are, then you need to consider asking them to change your listing using the advice further down on the page. If not, you need to apply for a new listing.
It is crucial to understand that Yahoo search results have several components; Yahoo Categories that match your query; Web Sites that are in the Yahoo index; and Web Pages that are drawn from the Inktomi database. Your site may appear in a Yahoo search and not be in the index!
If your site does not appear under the heading Web Sites, it isn't in Yahoo. Many people get confused by this. They see their site appear under Web Pages and think Yahoo has listed them. Not so!
Assuming you are not in the index, take your time, and find the category page that best fits your site. At the very bottom of this page will be a small "Suggest a Site" link. Click on it to get to the site submission page.
If there is no "Suggest a Site" link, then the page you are on does not allow listings to be added to it, most likely because it is a very general top-level page.
A good method for finding the right page is to do some searches that you think people looking for your site will do, and note which categories come up at the top of the search result. Apply to the topmost appropriate category -- that way, your listing (if you get in...) will appear as high as possible. More on this below.
Take your time, and carefully read their suggestions on how to submit. They REALLY mean it. Follow their instructions to the absolute letter, as if they were inscribed on stone tablets handed down from Heaven. If you break the rules (for example, using numbers or brand names in your descriptions), forget about getting in. Read those rules. Re-read them. Re-read them again, out loud.
The #1 mistake people make is that their title and description read like promotional ad copy. Bad mistake! What Yahoo wants is a descriptive title and description. No hype allowed! And if you can make your description one sentence of at most 15-20 words, you're less likely to have it edited down!
Apply with an eye to making the job of the Yahoo reviewer easier; for example, use the "comments" field in the application form to point out special things about your site that the reviewer ought to look at.
Three CRUCIAL tips:
First, in each category, Yahoo lists sites alphabetically by TITLE. So if you can come up with a plausible title for your site that starts with a number or the letter A, B or C, go for it. If I'd known this when I started my site, I'd have called it autopromotion.com!
Second, choose the alphabetically lowest CATEGORY that is appropriate for your site. When Yahoo lists matches found in it's catalog, it lists them by category (in alphabetic order) and then, inside each category, by site title (again, alphabetically). Try a yahoo search about Knitting Needles, for example, and you'll see that the first category is Business and Economy > Companies > Arts and Crafts > Crafts > Knitting and Crocheting, followed by Business and Economy > Companies > Arts and Crafts > Crafts > Sewing > Sewing Supplies. This is because while all the higher-level categories (like Business & Economy) are the same, Knitting and Crocheting comes before Sewing. It's a subtle but important point. Even if your company name is "Zwecky's Knitting Emporium", if you're in that first category, you'll come up above "Alvin's Knitting Center" (assuming Alvin isn't smart enough to get listed in the best category!)
Third and most important, searches on Yahoo will find your site if the search words appear in the title, description or URL. So make sure all the important keywords are in the description and title! Work them into the text in a natural way -- a list of keywords isn't acceptable! Because your title will often get edited, make sure the really crucial keywords are in the description. And if you can get a domain name that has your major keywords in it, even better, because they can't edit your URL!
For example, here is my entry in Yahoo:
SelfPromotion.com - shareservice that automatically registers your site at major search engines. Use it for free, pay only if satisfied.
Even though the Yahoo staff edited down my description, it still has a lot of important keywords in it. Keep in mind also that Yahoo searches for strings, not words, so if you can embed keywords inside other words, even better! Looking at my description again, you see how I did that:
SelfPromotion.com - shareservice that automatically registers your site at major search engines. Use it for free, pay only if satisfied.
While I wish that it said "registers your website" and somehow had the string "url" in the description, since I convinced Yahoo to change my description, I get 2-3 times as many clickthroughs than before. So spending some time crafting a good description is definitely worth it. This advice also applies to many of the indexes as well.
Whew! Well, that's all my advice. You may also want to read Yahoo's advice on how to submit to them, which is cunningly hidden on their website. Try looking at their
Help Index : http://help.yahoo.com/help/search/url/ and their
Submission Tutorial : http://howto.yahoo.com/chapters/10/1.html
Best of luck to you. Now here's a list of links to all the Yahoos:
And, of course, the original Mother of All Yahoos!
How to change your listing if you are already in Yahoo
Here is the link for the Yahoo Change Form
Simply go and fill it out. The standard "Read everything three times and follow it to the letter" rules apply. You can also use this form to get listed in a second category.
The "Secret" Yahoo email address
Yahoo has made available a special email address that you can use to let them know of problems with your listing (or with getting listed). While not exactly top-secret, it isn't widely known, so I am telling you this with the understanding that you not abuse it.
I cannot emphasize this enough! Read these instructions slowly and carefully. I've used this technique. It works. But beware - Yahoo checks to see if you've "followed the rules" and won't help you if you haven't.
To get extra assistance with a new site listing, submit the site normally, and if the site isn't listed within a few weeks, then do a resubmission. If the site still doesn't appear after a few weeks (and you've followed my advice above to the letter!), then e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. You must send the exact URL that you Submited, but you do not need to send the categories you Submited to or the actual dates you Submited on.
If you need a change to your listing, submit the change, wait at least 7-10 days for processing, then e-mail if a change doesn't appear. With change requests, in addition to the URL, Yahoo needs the exact date of the change request -- so write it down when you make the request.
This email address is not a way to get priority service, and Yahoo will likely get really pissed off at you if you abuse it. And the LAST thing you want to do on the net is get Yahoo angry at you! Typically it will take them 7-10 days to act upon your email, if in fact they do. If they don't, then do not under any circumstances email them again. Instead, restart the submission or change process from the very beginning, making sure you adhere to all their restrictions, and if you still don't get results, try the email address again.
If you are Submiting registrations for other people, Yahoo asks that you not use this email address more than 5 times a week (for 5 different sites, of course), and you must in all cases go through the normal process before using it.
You can also ask for reconsideration by mail or phone:
3420 Central Expressway, 2nd floor
Santa Clara, CA 95051, USA
Listing Support Phone : 408-731-3333
Phone : (408) 731-3300 -- 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM PST
Fax : (408) 731-3301
The Open Directory Project
The Open Directory Project (http://www.dmoz.org/), formerly called NewHoo, is an "Open Source" directory much like Yahoo, but edited by volunteers. As ODP is now the directory listing source for Netscape, AOL Search, HotBot and Lycos, and will soon be used by many other search engines, including Altavista, it is in the "big leagues" and is a must to submit to.
Note however that ODP's current search facility does WORD searches, not string searches, so that the keyword embedding technique does not work. So your description for ODP should avoid pluralized words unless they are likely to be in search queries. On the plus side, you can have longer descriptions than on Yahoo, but the category editor may edit you down.
Open Directory is also fairly unique in that you can submit not only your homepage, but also selected sub-pages that are strongly focused of a particular topic of interest. So for example, I would submit the selfpromotion.com homepage, as well as make submissions for pages of particular interest like this one. Just be careful and don't abuse this. Be honest with yourself, and you'll get good results.
Here is how to submit to Open Directory. For each of the pages you want to submit:
* Visit the major search engines that use Open Directory (I suggest Lycos, Hotbot, AOL Search and soon Altavista). Type a simple query that is likely to be used by someone searching for the contents of the page you are Submiting. For example, when Submiting my home page, I might enter searches like "register website for free," but when Submiting this page of tips, searches like "how to get listed in Yahoo" would be appropriate.
* When the search results come back, look for the list of Open Directory categories. If there are no categories, then your query was too specific. Try a more general one.
* After you've viewed the results of several searches, click on the single category that you feel is most appropriate for your site. This link will take you to the category page.
* Somewhere on the page will be an add url link (it'll vary depending on the site you're using. This will bring up the Open Directory submission form.
* Submit your site. All the usual techniques are appropriate. Make a note of the category you Submited to.
* Repeat the process for each different page -- but don't submit two pages to the same category.
As long as you don't make too many submissions, and your submissions are HIGHLY RELEVANT, you'll get multiple listings. Even better, the editors may list each of your pages in multiple categories if they think it's warranted.If you try and spam Open Directory, they'll remove you. Be responsible!
The current "official" waiting period for Open Directory is 3 weeks. If you don't get in after 3 weeks, you may resubmit if you want to.
* You can submit multiple pages.
* Submit each page to only one category.
* Don't submit two pages to the same category.
* Wait 3 weeks before reSubmiting.
For another perspective on Submiting to Open Directory, check out this page:
The site also has tips on Submiting to many other major indexes that I found to be quite insightful.
InfoSeek Directory (aka Go.com)
InfoSeek (http://infoseek.go.com/) also has a directory in addition to their search engine. It's tough to get into, but if you have a great site, visit Infoseek, drill down and find the page you'd like to be listed on (or do a search on likely search phrases, and select one of the "Go Network Topics", and click on the "Become a Go Guide" link. In return of helping edit other submissions, you'll be able to submit your own. All the basic tips about title and description crafting apply.
Snap (http://www.snap.com/) is a good but very selective directory. You apply to the main snap directory in pretty much the same was as with the other indexes; drill down, find the right place for your listing, and then click on the suggest a site link.
However, Snap has a second directory, the LiveDirectory (http://livedirectory.snap.com/) that everyone should consider listing in. LiveDirectory is a second-tier directory, and matching listings appear after the main directory listings, but before websearch results. Furthermore, LiveDirectory listings are candidates for "promotion" to the main directory. The nicest thing about LiveDirectory is that at least for now (12/08/1999) it takes less than a day to get listed! So give it a try. You have to become a member of Snap in order to submit listings, but that only takes a couple of minutes.
About.com (formerly The Mining Company)
About.com (http://www.about.com) is a very good index that combines site listings with reviews and editorial content. Each category is run by a guide, and they decide if you get in. Several of the guides have told me that the easiest way to get their attention is a direct email, as opposed to using the "Feedback" link on the pages.
Here are some tips, courtesy of a user who has asked me to refer to him as "Deep Miner"
1. Find the specific sub-category within that site that is appropriate to place a link. About.com guides want DEEP links, not your homepage perhaps, but maybe a specific article you wrote. So look through their sites and then pick and choose articles you've written and submit for inclusion into a specific sub-category that matches it.
2. Offer a link back. Put a link to their site even before contacting them and said, "I find your site such a great resource that I've listed you in our links page." Guides want traffic too, so this reciprocal linking is a bonus to them.
3. I don't think it's as hard to get listed as Robert thinks, since I've done it for a few purely commercial sites that don't offer much content but their site is basically a brochure. You just have to approach it so that there is incentive for the guide to list the site. These guides are almost always more responsive than search engines and portals, since there is a specific person by name with an email address, all of which is made clear at the site.
LookSmart (http://www.looksmart.com) is an up-and-coming major index, very similar to Yahoo in scope (though without their level of traffic). The same basic rules of thumb apply when Submiting to LookSmart, except that you can't do keyword embedding; only full word searches can be done.
LookSmart also has an express submission service that is broadly similar to Yahoo's. Submiting and paying the $199 fee does not guarantee you'll get in, but it does guarantee a fast review, and like Yahoo, there is an appeals process.
As with Yahoo, the decision to use the express service is a cost/benefit decision. Assuming your site is good enough to get in for free, is the $199 fee worth paying to save 4-8 weeks? The answer will be different for everyone.
More information about LookSmart's ExpressSubmit program can be found here:
Best of luck to you, and may all your submissions be accepted on the day they were Submited!
Robert Woodhead is well known for writing one of the first computer roleplaying games (Wizardry) as well as one of the first anti-virus programs (Virex).
His latest project is http://selfpromotion.com/, a URL-registration power-tool that helps you promote your site to over a hundred search engines and indexes. You can use it for free, then if you like it, YOU decide how much you want to pay!
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