Looksmart is more of a paid directory than a true search engine. It would be most to accurate to say it is neither, or somewhere in between. Still, they have managed to “index” 2.5 million pages and have over 250,000 categories. Each of the pages that are returned in the search results are similar to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads. This means that the site which submitted the page agreed to pay Looksmart a certain amount (.15/minumum.) Obviously, the amount a site is willing to pay has some bearing on their placement in results listings.
However, as Looksmart is not a true PPC directory either, paying the highest 'bid' will not guarantee you the highest placement in the results listings. As with true search engines, your pages must be optimized according to targeted key phrases in order to get the most (in this case) from your money. In this way Looksmart is attempting to strike a balance between what a site is willing to pay in order to be seen, and helping searchers find the information, products or services they're actually looking for.
If you want to rank high in Looksmart, the usual rules apply for creating optimized pages—with one catch. Rather than simply analyzing your HTML code, Looksmart generates its rankings based on user-submitted titles and descriptions. Sites are also permitted to choose up to 10 “relevancy key words.” The information submitted to Looksmart should be chosen with the same care, and the same amount of research required to correctly optimize pages for other search engines. It is important that anyone wishing to submit their site to Looksmart prepare this necessary information in advance.