This article was originally written during the dark ages BG - Before Google! Nevertheless, it has some useful insights and prescient advice!.

The Hype:

"Submit your site to the top 500 indexes on the net for only..." Sound good, right? Certainly, sounds impressive. But the fact of the matter is, it's probably not worth the money they charge for most sites to do such a promotion. That's not to say it isn't worth something (I certainly want you to support this site!), but in my opinion, charging $25, $50 or $100 or more to promote a single site a single time is way too much money. In fact, it was such a dumb spam that inspired me to put together this site. Too many people were getting ripped off!

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   Secret Net Tools
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Getting Started:
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Tutorials: (read in this order)
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Articles:
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The 500 Sites Fallacy
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Clickthrough Conundrums
SpamSpamSpam
The Gullibility Virus
A Marketing Course that Works?!
Accepting Credit Cards Online
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Why I let you decide how much to pay

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About the Site:
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Believe it or not, 11.13% of the people who use SelfPromotion.com support the site!
The Facts:

Realistically, there are three types of behavior that lead to a clickthrough to your site - a visitor can respond to an ad; he can casually encounter a link on another site that seems interesting; or he can be looking for something specific and find you in an index or search engine.

With this in mind, I did a little research in the logs of SelfPromotion.com. I wrote a quick program to scan one of the recent log files and look for incoming clickthroughs. I then eliminated all clickthroughs that didn't come from a site that SelfPromotion.com can submit to. I also did the same thing for sites that I don't submit to -- these are sites that are typically promotion-related, and link to me.

Here are the results:

Search Engines & Indexes
1481search.yahoo.com
1097www.infoseek.com
957webmasters.sextracker.com
405www.excite.com
360www.altavista.com
212www.toptenlinks.com
100www.webcrawler.com
96www.findlink.com
53websearch.miningco.com
50www.adult-webmaster.com
39www.pointguide.com
35directory.mozilla.org
25www.lycos.com
24webcrawler.com
24online-europe.com
18www.looksmart.com
14www.hotbot.com
13www.online-europe.com
13www.ausindex.com
12ausindex.ausweb.net.au
9www.galaxymall.com
6www.handilinks.com
6www.euroseek.net
6www.euroferret.com

Links to me
741www.bignosebird.com
690www.whitepalm.com
689www.webmaster-resources.com
510www.internetday.com
472www.searchenginewatch.com
405www.free-bee.net
384www.promotionworld.com
312www.animeigo.com
299www.p-p-i.net
255www.sitelaunch.net
243all4-free.hypermart.net
241www.tnapowerteam.com
200www.htmlwizards.com
179www.strikingitrich.com
168www.free.com
164home.sol.no
152www.thewebworkz.com
146www.katho.be
135webreference.com
127www.pr2.com
114www.northernwebs.com
113www.mlmstreet.com
106www.absolute-solutions.com
103www.forkinthehead.com
53www.drwebhosting.com
35www.webreference.com
19www.getpositioned.com
19www.freesources.com


The Analysis:

Look at the drop-off! None of the non-major index sites generated more than a couple of clickthroughs! This tends to confirm my hunch; if you are looking for something in particular, you go to one of the major indexes or search engines; you don't go to "Joe-Bob's Link List." If you just hit the majors, you're going to get 95% of the clickthroughs you would get if you promoted to the "Top 500."

But the other column shows that there were sites that generated a lot of clickthroughs, rivalling the numbers of the big guys. These were all promotion related sites. Surprisingly, these sites generated more clickthroughs than the major search engines!

The moral - get yourself linked with other similar sites, it is a major traffic source. In addition, search engines are starting to use number of links (both links on your page to other sites, and, more importantly, links on other people's pages to your site) as a criteria for how "valuable" a page is. So getting people to link to you, and linking to other useful sites, may soon be as important as choosing the right keywords when it comes to influencing search engine rankings. (Now you know why I want you to put my button on your page!)

And then Google came along and made links a big part of their ranking algorithm. Boy was I happy when that happened!

Now, some of you might say, what about "Free-for-all Links Pages?" These are pages where you can submit a link, and only the most recent links submitted are displayed. There are hundreds of them around, most of them running the same software. I was intrigued, so I visited Link-o-matic, a service that, for a fee, will repeatedly submit your URL to hundreds of these places. They have a free teaser service that submits your URL to 10 of the pages, so I used it, and then analyzed the logs, only to find...

Not a single clickthrough! In all fairness to Link-o-matic, other users, in particular the author of the VirtualPromote Newsletter, attest to good results from this service. So I did some more checking, and built my own Free-for-all submission tool (at one time part of the Secret Net Tools suite). The results indicate that it does generate a reasonable number of hits, but most of these hits come from a small number of FFA sites (about 100), and the quality of the clickthroughs were abysmal. I eventually disabled my FFA submission tool for this reason; I don't think FFA sites are useful for promotion.
A commentary: As more people start using Link-o-matic, my Secret Net Tool, and other autosubmitters on a regular basis, then pretty soon almost every link on the target pages will be from such a source. At which point, the usefulness of the pages as a promotional tool will go from poor to useless.

Furthermore, many FFA pages exist for the sole purpose of sending email to people who register with them, and the email addresses are often collected and added to spam lists! So if you pay to be submitted to the "Top 1000 Search Engines," you're not only paying for something that isn't worth much, but you're also paying for the privilege of being spammed!
Conclusions:

So, what does this all mean? It means that a good promotion plan is a stool with three legs; banner advertising (now PPC ads), promotion to the major search engines and indexes, and equally important, encouraging sites similar to yours to give you links (which usually means giving them links in return; www.animeigo.com has over 200 links to anime-related sites).

All of this does not bode well for sites that offer promotion services. Most of them will promote your site to the big guys for free, so the question becomes "Is it worth $50 (or whatever they charge) to put my site in a ton of indexes, in order to get 5% more traffic?" For most sites, it isn't.

The philosophy behind SelfPromotion.com is to help you get that last 5%; to give you some good advice about site promotion in general; to provide you with a set of tools that help you do the job right; and to let you judge how much the service is worth. If you are promoting your personal web-page, it might only be worth $5 or $10. If you are going to promote a bunch of commercial sites, it may well be worth $50 or $100 or more. You decide. I'm trusting you to be honest about it.

To encourage you, one of the neat things that contributors of $10 or more get access to is a bunch of cool tools that help you improve your site, your search engine rankings, and bulk submit URLs to the major search engines.

It may sound strange that I've put a page on this site telling you why you shouldn't pay money for promotion services, when I want you to send me money for doing just that! However, I've always found it to be the best policy to be excruciatingly open with clients in all my endeavors, even when it was to my apparent detriment. It almost always pays off in the end. And the nice thing is, since everyone who does contribute does it entirely of their own free will, all the contributors are by definition highly satisfied customers!

So have fun, enjoy the site, and if this advice saved you $50, send me half and use the rest to have a fun evening. I'll use the other half to do the same.

If you would like to reprint this article in your online or paper newsletter, please contact me for permission.

About this site...
This site was developed on a Macintosh, programmed in WebSiphon, and served by WebStar. The author, on those exceedingly rare occasions when he does think, indeed thinks differently.

SelfPromotion.com ©1997-2014 Robert Woodhead, All Rights Reserved. SelfPromotion.com™, Tooter™, Secret Net Tools™, MultiSubmitter™, BaldSpotCam™, and ShareService™ are trademarks of Robert Woodhead. To get help, report bugs, or make suggestions, go here.