I didn't think much of the emails that I assumed were from my domain provider, asking me not to skip the important step of registering my new domain with the major search engines. There was one domain I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with, so I figured in this one case, why not raise my hand and tell Google my site exists while I'm still deciding what will exist there.
So I clicked on this email with a subject of "Website Assistance" figuring that it came from GoDaddy or one of its affiliates. But I'm not so sure that it did. I wouldn't put it past GoDaddy to try to charge me an exorbitant price for something I can get for free, but my reasoning is that they would try to sell me that stuff at checkout, and not send me a generic looking email after the fact.
Like I said, it's debatable and probably situational that you would even even need to tell the major search engines that you exist. And in that case, it's a service these search engines offer completely free. So I was more than a little shocked that it wanted almost 100 dollars to provide me this service.
You can see the name of the company from the email below. I don't want to link to them or spell out their name, because that would increase their search rankings. Personally I consider it a scam to sell you something you could get for free with a few minutes of your time. They're not even really saving you any time, as there are lots of services that will submit your domains for free in one shot. And of course you're paying for something that many would argue you don't even need, since if you can't get one search-engine-visible site to link to your site, then you are doing something terribly wrong.
Pressing the Register button takes me to a screen where I put in my name and the domain name I want to submit. Sweet, I'm almost there! And then it tells me that I have a coupon code, and below the code it says "Congratulations, you have our highest valued coupon!" Wait, coupon? Oh well, maybe it's reasonable.
Whoa, they took 300 big ones off the price. That's just too amazing to pass up ... or not.
So is it technically a scam? I'll let the readers decide. It sure has some glaring red flags in the way they operate in my opinion. It seems like they are preying on brand new web site owners who are in over their heads and don't understand anything about search engines or SEO (search engine optimization).
You can also see the domain I registered above, which I didn't blur out. I think I'm ready to make some high quality privacy tools and maybe even release them as open source, since it's hard to tell which companies to trust with your data, especially when it comes to encryption. So I bought this domain and I haven't decided how it fits into my plans and there's not much of a reason for me to link to it from my other sites. And so in the mean time I guess it's OK that Google sees it, even if there isn't much to see, and that's why I manually registered it with Google instead of linking to it.
Also, anyone interested could quickly do their own search engine submission if necessary, and some are completely free. This service isn't personally worth $397 to me, even with a $300 coupon, but if it is to you, then more power to you. And if you have that little regard for your money, there are always organizations like UNICEF which could probably put it to better use.
Search Engine Visibility
The best way to gain visibility and increase your ranking with the big search engines is by having other sites link to your site. It's that simple. And it's not called the 'world wide web' for nothing. When a site that's visible to search engines links to another site, the search engines crawl that link too, and in this manner they see most of the web.
Now, Google uses their own secret voodoo to determine a site's ranking, but most of a domain's search ranking seems to come from a) how many visible sites are linking to your site and b) what their search rankings are. So for example if you created 10 new domains and linked them all to each other, none would be visible to search engines and none would have very good ranking. Now, in this scenario all you would have to do is make one site visible to search engines and they would find your other 9 on their own!
The best way I have found to start from nothing with the the search engines is to make intelligent comments on blogs that relate to your new web site's subject matter. Most blogs have a field to put in your web site URL when you leave a comment, and search engines see this as a legitimate link. This not only makes you suddenly visible to every major search engine, but it also gives you a boost in ranking depending on the ranking of the blog you made a comment on. But be careful. The big blogs understand the power they hold, and may/will delete any comments they deem too self-serving or whatever their policy is. So make sure it's a legit comment, because "Hey, I loved your article and think you're awesome" only works on me.