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Search Engines

Not only do you have to get your site listed in as many places as possible in your quest for popularity, but you have to pay special attention to the more popular sources of visitors. Of course, the more popular a search engine is, the harder it is to make the grade, but careful attention and the right submittal methods will help. Below is a list of the most popular search engines and directories on the web.

Clock This page was last updated on 2012-08-21

Popular Search Engines

A very important point to keep is mind is that there are, in actuality, very few search engines that are worth bothering with. There are dozens of lesser search engines out there that used to be relevant back in the 1990s. You might consider submitting to them, but usually they aren’t worth your time. Concentrate on the engines I’ve listed below, as these are the ones that most of your search engine traffic will come from.

Submitting to a search engine is easy — simply find their ‘Add URL’ link, and you’ll land on their site submission page. Type your address into the box, check that it’s correct, and send it in.


Google quickly became the most used search engine on the web due to its accurate results and a massive index (over 1 billion pages). In December 2009, Google had 85.35% of the search engine market. The results are highly relevant because of Google’s sophisticated ranking algorithm, which factors in how many links a page has pointing towards it, which should mean that they’ve been found by others to be good resources. Another great thing about Google is that it is designed for all-out speed. Your results appear within a second and the site’s focus never wanes towards being a portal or any of that rubbish. Google is easily the most important search engine to get listed in.


Microsoft’s Bing is their replacement to their old MSN Search product. They’ve actually managed to create a very good search engine this time, with results comparable to Google. Internet Explorer’s integrated search toolbar uses this index as its default, which ensures a steady flow of searchers. In December 2009, Bing had 3.27% of the search market, and is growing as more users become familiar with the name.


This smart engine launched in ‘97, and used to be known as “Ask Jeeves”, featuring a gimmicky butler who would answer your questions. Instead of a user entering keywords into the form, this engine returns web pages based on a question asked by the user. Nowadays the site can be used like a more traditional search engine if you prefer. A good engine, and popular with new web users.

Web Directories

Web directories are human-compiled indexes of sites, which are then categorised. The fact that your site is reviewed by an editor before being placed in the index means that getting listed in a directory is often quite difficult. Consequently, having a listing in a directory will guarantee you a good amount of well-targeted visitors. Most search engines will rank you higher if they find your site in one of the directories below.

When submitting to directories, take the time to do it right. If you balls it up you’ll have to go asking the editors to modify your listing, which may take time as it’s at their whim. Read up on how the directory works, use it a bit yourself and then submit right, once.


Yahoo used to be the most famous site on the Internet. It is the largest human-compiled directory in existence, and now has over 1 million sites indexed (including our good selves). Yahoo is now the oldest major directory, having been around since 1994, close to the beginning of the web itself. As well as its own index of sites, Yahoo search results pages also include webpages from a search engine’s index. The directory has waned in importance as time has gone by and search engines technology has improved. In December 2009 Yahoo had 6.29% of the search market. Back in mid-2000 Google provided these webpage results (which gave them their big break). Yahoo then bought the now-defunct Inktomi to provide their results once they realised Google were now a threat to their business. Yahoo search results are now supplied by Bing.

Open Directory

The Open Directory is another human-compiled directory, but one where any Internet user can become an editor and be responsible for some part of the index. Many other services use Open Directory listings, including Google, Netscape, Lycos, AOL search, AltaVista and HotBot.

And the rest...

You can submit your site to these search engines if you want, but I wouldn’t spend too much time trying to improve your ranking in any of them. Most of these companies are struggling on this new Google-dominated web.


Lycos started as a spider-based engine but in ‘99 changed to a directory, getting listings from the Open Directory, with secondary results coming from FAST and Direct Hit. Lycos owns HotBot, but continues that service independently.

FAST Search

Also known as ‘All the Web’, FAST has always intended to index as much of the web as possible. It has a consistently large index and was the first search engine to break the 200 million results mark. The interface is slick and the results get passed back to you nice and quickly.

AOL Search

AOL Search allows its members to search both the web and AOL’s own content. External category and site listings come from the Open Directory and crawler-based results come from Google.


AltaVista used to be one of the most popular search engines on the web, due to a consistently large index and many advanced tools for searchers (» page translation for example, which is a good service). It went through a turbulent time, with its management apparently unsure whether it was a portal site or a no-nonsense search engine. It has now settled on being a dedicated search engine, but doesn’t look so hot and has been losing users for ages. AltaVista makes its own listings and supplements them with sites from the Open Directory, Ask and Looksmart.


Dogpile is a useful search engine because the results you see are actually search results it gets from other search engines and then collects and collates together into one report.