SEO: Is it necessary to optimize a website before you submit it to the search engines?

It can be beneficial to submit to a select, few search engines and directories without first optimizing a website. It won't make any difference whether your site is optimized or not (as long as it is a finished website) at: Yahoo, Looksmart, ODP, Galaxy, About.com, whatsNu, where2go, Qango, and Buyer's Index.

The pay-per-clickthrough search engines can be submitted to at any time--as long as the site isn't "under construction", you should submit it to any of the pay-per-clickthrough search engines. How well you rank there depends only upon which keywords you select and how much you are willing to pay per clickthrough. Pay-per-clickthrough search engines like MIVA, Yahoo's Overture and Google's AdWords can get any website some immediate visitors. Results, while nearly instant, can be quite expensive. Pay Per Clickthrough search engines are listed here. Start with Overture and work your way down the list.

With most of the other search engines, it would be a mistake to submit a site prior to optimizing it. Google, AltaVista, Ask.com, etc. It costs money to submit to many of them. If your site isn't optimized, it may well be a waste of time (and money!) to pay to have your site listed and indexed in Google, AltaVista, Ask, Excite, InfoSpace, MaMMa and WhatUSeek.

Google is the prime player in search engines right now, most people know about it and search there. It is estimated that half of all web searches come from Google. Even though it is free, it will be a waste of time to submit to Google if your site is not indexed. It won't do you any good if you are in any competitive arena - your competitors who have optimized their sites will be at the top of the heap when someone searches for key words related to your product or service.

Obviously, Words In A Row is a Search Engine Optimization firm so we are going to recommend that you optimize any commercial website--it's a large part of what we do when marketing a site online. Through search engine optimization, we create the benefits for our clients of increased exposure online. More eyeballs will view your pages as a result. Our clients routinely report back to us how much more traffic they are getting and how many more sales they are making as a result of what we do. Search engine optimization is half the battle to get people to your site. The other half is actually registering the site correctly where it needs to be registered, by hand.

Our advice, based on the above:

1. You can and should register your site right now, without optimizing it first, at the Pay-per-Clickthrough search engines (but only if you can afford it!): Overture, Sprinks, FindWhat. You determine what your key words there will be, and you determine your own rankings for those key words by how much you pay for them (the amount of your bid). So optimization plays no part in how your site ranks at the pay-per-clickthrough search engines.

2. You can register your site without optimizing it first at Yahoo, Open Directory Project, Galaxy, About.com, whatsNu, where2go, Qango, and Buyer's Index. Optimization probably won't affect your rankings at those, either because human editors will decide your key words or because you get to pick the key words yourself when you sign up. So optimization is relatively unimportant at those directories.

3. You should definitely optimize your site first before submitting it to Google, AOL, Yahoo, Windows Live (previously MSN), InfoSpace, Excite, Ah-ha.com, Lycos, Mamma,com, or WhatUseek, Search Hippo, AEIWI, InfoTiger, LookSmart, or Subjex. Otherwise you are wasting a lot of money and time.

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Should you optimize your website for the search engines and directories prior to submitting it?

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