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Promoting On The Web: The Value Of Directories
2000 Jodi Krangle, All rights reserved.

Chances are that by now, if you have a web site, you've figured out you need to promote it on the web before anyone but your family and friends will be able to find it. There are lots of good services for this sort of thing. One of them is offered through The Muse's Muse @ http://www.musesmuse.com/promo.html. Not all services are created alike, however. Make sure you ask a lot of questions - firstly about how many places you're being submitted to. Also make sure that you're not paying any more than $50 USD for the service. Anything more is a rip-off. The Muse's Muse, for instance, offers a 3 month package, submissions 2 weeks apart (which means you're submitted 6 different times) plus e-mailed reporting for that $50. Make sure you're getting your money's worth!

But there is one thing these services *can't* help you with (and shouldn't, in my opinion): submitting to DIRECTORIES. Web Directories such as Yahoo! and The Open Directory Project (dmoz.org) aren't search engines. They don't "crawl" your site once given the main url. They don't automatically catalogue your site at all. They categorize based upon the whims of a human editor. What does this mean to you, the web site owner?

1) CONTENT IS STILL KING: Your site should have some content before they'll allow it to be placed in their directory. Try having some information on your site such as in depth stuff about your band or your background, a performance date listing, press clippings, maybe even interesting trivia about the band or yourself. Try also to have a good bunch of links that you think might be relevant to those dropping by. One of the BEST ways to spread the word about your site (even better than submitting to search engines!) is to exchange links with other people and having a section set aside for that purpose just makes it easier.

2) CONSIDER GETTING YOUR OWN DOMAIN NAME: I hate to tell you this, but unfortunately, directories are less likely to categorize a site on IUMA or MP3.com or any service like that. Even if they do, you're likely to be low on their totem pole. MP3.com and sites like it certainly do serve a purpose - and a valuable one at that - but they very rarely have any appreciable content and they also are usually only one page. I always advise those serious about promoting themselves on the net to get their own domain name (it's not very expensive at all these days. Try a service like http://www.register.com), or at the very least, a web page on a free service with some actual information present on more than a few pages. The more the site has to offer, the better disposed the human editors at the directories are likely to be towards it.

3) CHOOSE YOUR CATEGORY CAREFULLY: If you have a sizable amount of content, try submitting yourself to more than one but try to limit it to no more than three at the start. Once you're already accepted and the editors have glanced around your site, it's possible they'll consider categorizing other sections of it if you try again later and you're certain those individual sections have merit all on their own. For instance, I have several sections on The Muse's Muse that are categorized separately. The classified section appears on its own within Yahoo! and so does the Songwriting Lounge Chat page. I also have a listing for the home url of the entire web site. This is all legitimate because each section *does* stand alone. In any case, the bottom line is that you should choose a category that fits the subject matter of your web site as closely as possible and if you have different sections with stand-alone info you feel is valuable, submit those to the appropriate category too.

4) DON'T KID A KIDDER: Don't try to put one over on them. These are human editors, remember. Yes, they display their content alphabetically, but if you try putting an "A" in front of the title of your entry just to get yourself listed higher, it's likely to get your submission tossed in the figurative wastebasket instead. Think about your title carefully. If you can start the title of your web site with a word that has something to do with the content of your web site and is also higher up in the alphabet, that's great. Give it a shot. But don't be obvious about it and try to keep the title down to five words or less. Most of the time, it's just best to go with the actual name of your web site and leave it at that. I'd also advise that you stick to a description that's 25 words or less. On Yahoo! this is VERY strictly enforced. On dmoz.org, much less so - but they're a little more likely to edit your entry if they place you. It's always best to make their job easier. Also DON'T try to get yourself listed twice in the same section by removing the www at the front of the url and submitting both versions. (Ex: http://www.musesmuse.com and http://musesmuse.com) It won't work and it will annoy the editor - something you don't want to do if you're trying to get placed.

5) NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF DMOZ.ORG You probably already know how important it is to be listed on Yahoo!. But how much do you know about dmoz.org or The Open Directory Project? If you don't know a lot, visit dmoz.org, have a look around, then visit Hotbot.com, Lycos.com, AOL's Netfind (http://search.aol.com/) & Netscape.com - to name a few. All of these locations use filtered dmoz.org information for their listings - which means that if you get placed on dmoz.org, you'll eventually find yourself in ALL of these listings at once. There's about a week to two week delay between finding yourself listed on dmoz.org and the filtering down of the information to the other sites that draw their results from that location. This is the best darned directory you never heard of. If you haven't gotten yourself listed there, DO IT NOW. It takes a little bit less time to get listed than Yahoo! at this point (though they're getting slower) and the results will be amazing.

6) IF YOU AREN'T GETTING A LISTING, BE *POLITE*!!: After about three weeks of waiting and not seeing your entry appear, it's pretty safe to say that the editor is either really far behind, or you're not in the running. Write to the editor. At the bottom of each section you've submitted your site to on dmoz.org, you'll find a link to the editor's profile. You can find his or her e-mail address there. On Yahoo, e-mail url-support@yahoo-inc.com and include your pertinent info, including site URL, your e-mail, date you submitted your site, and the desired categories within that communication. But above all, BE POLITE. These are real people you're writing to, not robots. They appreciate a kind word and a polite inquiry just as much as any of us would. They also get thousands of submissions in a day. Give them something to smile about. By the time they read your note, they'll need it! If you're not listed, simply ask them why, if there's something you need to change about your listing in order to make it acceptable, and mention the information suggested above. It might take a little more effort to be nice, especially if you've been waiting a long time, but it's always worth it. Trust me.

Another tip for getting listed faster with Yahoo is to try submitting your site to the relevant category within a regional Yahoo. This is really only useful if you're located in the States, unfortunately, but if you are, it can sometimes take as many as weeks quicker to get listed there than elsewhere on Yahoo - and those results get filtered to the regular Yahoo! site after the next database update.

Promoting yourself on the web is getting easier all the time but while it's possible to automate a lot of things, submitting to the directories really should be done manually - and by YOU - the person who best knows your web site. Give it a shot. What do you have to lose but anonymity? Good luck!


Jodi Krangle resides in Toronto Canada (specifically Thornhill) and is the proprietess of The Muse's Muse Songwriting Resource at www.musesmuse.com. In her day job, she's the Marketing Director & Webmaster for a gaming software development company called Zillions Development Corporation (www.zillions-of-games.com). Jodi is also an active musician and voice over professional. In her spare time, she can often be found doing studio vocals, writing songs (though not as often as she'd like), performing with her folk group, Urban Tapestry (http://www.inkspot.com/ut), and working on her web site until the wee hours of the morning.

 
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