The long answer is:
You don't have to tell search engines where you are. The search engines will find you. After all, that's what they do.
So, please, whatever you do, don't spend your hard-earned dollars on a search engine submission service. If you really want to part with your money, donate it to your local SPCA, or the shelter where I adopted my cat. These are organizations which could really use your money. A search engine submission service is just going to bank your dollars and offer very little in return.
So, if this isn't a service you should buy, what should you do? Let's be realistic here. If you want to be found online, you want Google to find your site. Maybe you'll add Yahoo to that list, but after that it becomes fairly irrelevant how many other engines pick up your site. (I'm speaking of English language web sites now). The majority of users online are now in the habit of using Google (and occasionally Yahoo) to perform their web searches. There are lots of other search pages out there, but very few will ever drive significant traffic to your site. Trust me on this. In some cases these other search engines are really just portals which feed you information from a larger search engine anyway. The bottom line is that you want Google to find you. After that, everything else is gravy. So how do you do this?
Submit Directly to Google
Google has a page with some useful info to get you started. I recommend you have a look at that. However, if you just want to submit your site to Google directly and be done with it, you can use the Google site submission page. This will officially let Google know that you exist. Now just sit back and wait for the magic to happen. So, if you all you wanted was to have Google notice you, you're done. You can quit reading and check your TiVo to see if the latest episode of Chuck was recorded. If you want to improve your rankings once Google does find you, read on.
Have Other Sites Link Back to You
One way to ensure that your site will be picked up and treated well by Google is to have other sites link back to you. Send out an email to friends or businesses you work with, asking them to post a link back to your site. Offer to link back to their sites as well, since this may give them more incentive to add your link. You can also add your link to the WunderCounter's free directory. There's no requirement to link back to the WunderCounter, but it is appreciated. Find directories online which offer free listings. Use these listings to link back to your site.
How Do Links Help?
When Google is searching the web, it follows the links which it finds. When it stumbles across a link to your site, it will officially know that your site exists and you'll be scheduled to be added to its index. The more links which Google finds which point to your site, the more important Google will assume your site is. This is a simplification of how the process works, but basically, think of it this way:
If thousands of web pages link back to your web site, Google will assume that this is an important web site and will take this into consideration when spidering the site and producing search results -- this is a good thing. Conversely if zero or very few pages link back to your site, Google will also take this into consideration -- this is not a very good thing. You're not likely to appear in the top results of many searches, which means that you'll be in the Google index, but most people will never find you.
So, what you want to do is get your site out there. Let people know about it. Find online directories which offer listings for free. Pester your friends to link back to your site and just generally make sure Google is aware of your existence. This will not only get your site indexed by Google and the other search engines, but it will also increase the likelihood that user searches will produce results which list your site.
This really just scratches the surface of how you can get more people to find you online. If you're interested in further articles on how to optimize your site for search engines, email me or comment below. Or, if you have your own tips, you can add those in the comments as well.