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Traffic, traffic, traffic--any e-business you pick up is talking about it. And if not all, then most of them are concerned about the traffic to their website. If you operate or are associated with the development of an e-business, then sooner or later you will be affected by Web traffic. It is one of the make-or-break factors for an e-business. Ignore it only at your own peril.


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Dependence on user traffic is the way of life for websites. Some have it easier than others, but then they may have a captive target user/customer base. Most have to go to extra lengths to attract users to their site and to continuously monitor the efficacy of their efforts. However, it is not easy.

There are various ways that websites increase the traffic to their sites. Search engines are the most prominent one of them. In my last feature, I briefly discussed how to go about developing a search engine strategy. Essentially, your search engine strategy needs to address budgeting, planning, getting listed, search engine optimization, placement and positioning, and monitoring and maintaining your listings. And what makes your search engine strategy interesting and complicated is that only few of these activities are directly under your control. Some are dependent upon the co-operation of others and some are dependent upon technology.

Getting your site listed with the search engines is no longer free. Oh yeah, if you spend time then there are few ways that you could find that would enable you to list your site on some search engines. But chances are that they won't be the top engines, and they won't help you increase your traffic.

So if you want to get listed on important search engines, you gotta be prepared to shell out money. How much is it going to cost you? Well, anywhere from less than $100 to over $1,000 for a reasonably sized website. And if you have a much bigger site, then your promotional budget is also probably awash in money, too.

Web Directories
If you have a commercial site and you want to list it on Yahoo, it is going to cost you $299. The only way you can list a commercial site on Yahoo is if you go through their Express program, which has an annual recurring fee of $299. Yahoo Express is an expedited, fee-based site suggestion service for submission to the Yahoo! Directory. It does not guarantee listing but promises that the application will be reviewed within seven days. Their standard program is free but is limited to only a few types of businesses.

Getting your site listed in the LookSmart directory will put you back by $149-$299. Once again, LookSmart also promises review but does not guarantee listing. If you go through the "Basic Submit," it will cost you $149 but the review period may last up to eight weeks. If you pay double that amount, then the site will be reviewed within two business days.

If you try Lycos, then you may have to handle a different price model. Its current introductory offer includes an $18 annual membership and an annual fee of $12 per URL. If you want to list five URLs, it will cost you $78.

You may also get your site listed in the crawlers, too. It may be a faster way to get your site to appear in search engines, but it may cost you more, too.

Inktomi offers a Search Submit program that makes your site known to Inktomi's network of Web search partners that include AOL, iWon, MSN and HotBot. This submission includes your content in the Inktomi index and keeps it fresh with 48-hour updates during the subscription period. The pricing is on a per-URL basis. The first URL costs $39 a year and subsequent URLs cost $25 a year. Inktomi also has some other similar products.

Altavista also has few programs for site inclusion. It's Express Inclusion is per-URL based, with an annual fee of $39 for the first URL and $29 per for the next nine URLs. The fee drops to $19 for URLs 11 through 500.

AskJeeves' Site Submit is in Beta Testing and you could get 15 months of subscription at 12 months' fee. Its per-URL based fee is $30 for the first one and then $18 for subsequent URLs, with a max of 1,000 URLs.

And then there are pay-for-performance search engines that have a fixed monthly or annual fee, where  you are charged your "bid amount" every time a user clicks on your URL from their search results. The other route is to go through the search engine submission firms. They have mushroomed all over the Internet, but not all of them are reliable. Also, many of them claim that they could submit your site to hundreds of thousands of search engines. Well, that won't help you much. First, there aren't so many search engines. Secondly, only a small number of them--about 10 to 20--are used by the majority of people.

On the other side of the spectrum are the free listing options. Believe it or not, some do exist. But they require a lot of effort and time, and the last I checked, people were still saying "time is money."

Strategic and results-oriented, Sunil has more than 15 years of experience in management and IT consulting. An entrepreneurial consultant, he had founded a business-to-business eCommerce company. Sunil has provided consulting services to large and small firms in the UK, Far East, India, Europe and the United States. His area of expertise includes strategic management, strategic marketing and business planning for high-tech firms. An avid mountain climber and runner, Sunil has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and various peaks in the Himalayas and finished the Detroit Marathon. He holds an MBA degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a BS in Electronics and an MS in Mathematics from the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences, Pilani, India. He can be reached at (703)-395-9812 and by writing to [email protected].

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