The first thing many so-called SEO "pros" do when they create a new niche site is submit it to all the search engines. This act seems to make sense, because how else is the search engine going to know the site exists? There actually is a way for search engines to find out about sites other than search engine submission, which is covered in this article.
In actuality, the practice of search engine submission, however common, may be harmful to a site. Many SEO firms even offer search engine submission services for a fee. This is a good sign of an SEO firm who either doesn't know that search engine submission can be harmful (which shows they know enough about SEO to be harmful) or they don't care about the needs of their customers.
#1 It's a Waste of Your Time/MoneyIt can take hours to submit a site to all the popular search engines. We're talking Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, etc. Don't forget foreign search engines, either, as they can account for a large chunk of traffic! Those who like filling out forms, solving CAPTCHAs, and clicking verification links in email would LOVE search engine submission. There are also many sites that allow, in one web form, for users to fill out some basic information and submit their sites instantly to several different search engines. Don't forget, you're still going to get to click on verification links in emails.
Some SEO firms offer this as a service. They may do this manually or use a form that does the submission. Either way, it's still pointless. Some offer this for prices as low as $10 on up to $150. The average price for this, however, is $50. To me, $50 is a lot of money for something you don't really need. $10, at that, is a lot of money for something you don't need.
#2 Being Indexed Doesn't = TrafficJust because a site is in a search engine, doesn't mean that it will get traffic. When was the last time you've searched for something and looked further than the first two pages of search results? Usually, when I make a search and don't see what I'm looking for on the first page, I edit my search terms and search again! This is what SEO is for. A site that has been properly optimized for SEO will place on the first page of the search results for a particular term.
There are literally thousands of sites that are in the search engine that seldom get traffic. This shows that it's not just about being in the search engine, it's about being at the top! The best way to get in the search engine is to get back links. When a website is linked to, even on your MySpace profile, or in a public Live Journal post, a search engine is going to see it and say to itself, "Ooh, this is new, I'm adding this." When the search engine finds a link to your website somewhere else, it begins to think, "Wow, this must be important," and it starts to rank the site higher in the search engine.
Anyone who knows what they are doing when it comes to SEO will not waste their time submitting their site to a search engine. Search engines WANT to index as many sites as they can! By spending time doing SEO and making a site the best it can be, your efforts in these areas will pay off many, many times more than spending the time telling search engines that your site exists.
#3 It Can Harm Your Marketing EffortsSearch engine submission either costs time (which could be used to get back links) or money. Remember that time is also money. Also, rumor has it, that some search engines (such as Google) see a search engine submission as a sign of desperation by the webmaster and thus docks the website for this. While this is just a rumor, it is a real clincher when it comes to whether or not it's a good idea to submit a site to search engines.
Because it is a waste of time, a waste of money, and has possible negative effects to SEO work, there really is no point in investing anything into search engine submission. If it's a decent site and has back links, it'll be indexed in the search engine in no time!