There are maybe 200 search engines and directories currently in operation. With very small ones popping up or dying off all the time. Many of these only accept and list special interest sites or sites from certain geographic locations so submitting most sites to all of them is unnecessary and amounts to spamming the index or directory.
Of the 200 total there are about 100 substantial search engine directories and directories that are worthwhile to submit to. Of these, the top 10 sites (Yahoo, Lycos, etc.) will most likely generate 90% of your search engine traffic.
So where do these companies get these inflated claims like "Submit to 10,000 Search Engines!!" ?
A great deal of the fluff comes from Free For All (FFA) link sites.
So why not submit to the FFA's?
We believe it is a waste of time and that it is unlikely you will receive any noticeable traffic. As a test we recently submitted to over 1000 FFAs once a day for a week, and even though we were listed immediately we didn't get a single hit generated from them!!!
The vast majority of Free Fall All link sites accept about 100 links per very general category (Business, Computers, etc.). When a new site is submitted to a category it starts in the number 1 position and moves down 1 position each time a new site is added. When a site reaches position 101 and is taken off the list. Depending on your category and submissions it can take just a matter or hours until your site is completely out of the list. If you want back on the list you need to resubmit. Even worse, FFA's, often use your email to try to induce you to buy their product or service and also sell your email address to other companies so they can do the same. Depending on how many and which ones you submit to hundreds if not thousands of spam emails will be sent to your mail box!!
Don't pay for this to happen to you!
The vast majority of the sights offering to submit your site for X dollars to however many sites don't care whether search engines will even be able to read your sight they just take the url and email address you give them and use an automated process to submit your site to whatever sites they happen to have in their list. Often the complete process is automated and you actually did the submit yourself when you paid and filled out their form!!!
Most submission companies don't care if the major search engines, the ones that will actually generate any significant traffic for you, can even read your site effectively or at all. Since many search engines and directories take weeks to list sites after they have been accepted and cataloged, it only makes sense to make sure your site is search engine optimized before you submit the first time.
Even worse more often than not submission companies fail to submit to the directories that require special information and human interaction, like Yahoo, Infoseek, etc. because their processes are automated. Many of the top traffic generators on the net are the directories, it is critical to get listed with them if possible.
It can take months to get listed with Yahoo and some of the other larger directories even if your site is perfect and was submitted properly. It is critical that these submissions are done right the first time by someone who understands how the directories work and what they are looking for. Do you really want a computer program submitting your site to the largest traffic generator on the net?