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Ungekürzt und unzensiert.
Tips on getting listed in Yahoo (and the
other big indexes)
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:
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
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
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
Second, choose the alphabetically lowest CATEGORY that is
appropriate for your site. When Yahoo lists matches found in its
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
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
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
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 email@example.com
for assistance. You must send the exact URL that you submitted,
but you do not need to send the categories you submitted to
or the actual dates you submitted 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 submitting 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.
Like Yahoo, Open Directory asks that you only submit your
homepage URL, to the most appropriate category (initially,
Open Directory allowed multiple URL submissions, but they
have changed their policy recently).
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 submitting. For example,
when submitting my home page, I might enter searches like
"register website for free," but when submitting
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 submitted 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 resubmitting.
For another perspective on submitting to Open Directory, check
out this page:
The site also has tips on submitting 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
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
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
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
submitting 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. Submitting 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 submitted!
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!