Web directories provide web visitors with a one-stop destination on the web to find the information they are looking for. If you have a newly launched site that is yet to be crawled by the search engine spiders, directory submission is the first and foremost thing that you should do.
A high quality web directory is a popular means of generating high quality leads and obtaining one-way links, and links that come from top-notch web directories carry much weight in link popularity, and thus, page ranking.
Web directories provide the search engines contextual information that they can use to discern what your site is about. Furthermore you can use web directories to enhance the visibility of your website and derive myriad benefits offered by them.
Web directories are browsable by subject or categories and subcategories, and offer a way of collecting and categorizing links to other web sites. For example, the plumbing directory Five Star Plumbers is an example of a well categorized, human edited directory.
In order for your site to be included in a directory, you will need to comply with the submission process. How you list your site can mean the difference between the site being included in the directory or not. So before you even begin to create your listing, it’s usually a good idea to navigate through the directory to which you’re submitting your site.
There are hundreds of different directories online.Some are general directories, whereas others are very specific and associated with only one industry or organization. These types of directories attract specific users who are searching for specific items.
Apart from Yahoo’s search directory, most online directories may not be particularly useful in driving traffic to your site. This is because searchers generally prefer to use search engines when searching for stuff. But the main reason you may want to consider listing your website in some good directories is for the backlink that comes from the directory.
Directory Submission Services
Using web directory submission services is one of the quickest and easiest methods of building backlinks to your site.However, getting your URL submitted to low quality directories is also potentially one of the quickest ways to damage your website’s organic search ranking. This is because you generally don’t have any way of evaluating the hundreds of directories your website is being submitted to.
There are hundreds of directories that have been banned by Google for various infractions. Submission to a large number of low quality directories will be seen as a spam signal by the search engines. Instead, you should aim to get listed in high quality directories with good quality metrics. In doing so, you’ll be showing the search engines that your site has high value, and they should be lumping you in the higher trust group that you’re associating your site with.
Getting listed in a high ranking directory can boost your organic search ranking. If it is a very popular directory, you can use it to drive targeted traffic and significantly boost the online visibility of your website. Quality is key, and your aim is to be listed in a few high quality directories to boost your online web presence.
The key to success in getting quality backlinks from directories is to identify the high-quality ones and stay away from the poor-quality ones. Poor quality directories can do more harm than good to your website’s credibility and “trust value”. Essentially, if the bulk of your links are from low ranking websites, the search engines will pick this up and group you in the same category as those low ranking websites. This is why you should always be wary of using automated directory submission services that are designed to submit your site into every free directory it can find.
How Web Directories are Organized
General web directories are typically an organized collection of links to websites in different fields. There are also industry-specific web directories for various niches such as those for dating sites, travel-related sites, financial services and so on and so forth. Web directories also usually have sub directories. The links are typically classified into specific fields within a comprehensive industry; and more often than not, there are sub-categories for states, cities, and/or zip codes.
Web directories are browsable by subject or categories and subcategories, and offer a way of collecting and categorizing links to other web sites. There are hundreds of different directories online. Some are general directories, whereas others are very specific and associated with only one industry or organization. These types of directories attract specific users who are searching for very specific items. This means that their chances of helping you generate conversions are usually higher than those of visitors who come from search engines.
Essential Factors Used to Evaluate Directories:
- Editors may, at their own discretion, alter the title and description of the listing.
- Editors may reject the listing altogether.
- The directory has a track record of rejecting submissions. The implication of this is that the quality of the sites listed in the directory is high.
- Directories that do not have an editorial review process do not convey value to the search engines.
Types of Directories to Target:
Local Area Directories
These are typically local business directories that are specifically targeted to your area. Local directories can be a good source of local traffic for your website and your Google My Business listing too. So, in addition to the citation and backlink, you are likely to pick up some potential customers. To send the right message about your business, it is critically important to complete your entry as fully as possible and include pictures and videos to enhance and personalize your listing.
In order to boost your Google My Business page, you can also link directly to it from each directory in which you’re listed as well. The listings should allow you to link to your social media properties. So, in addition to your main website link, be sure to add links to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google My Business pages. If the directory doesn’t allow more than one link, link, then you can often add a link in the description and where possible make it a live clickable link. Include a full NAP citation in the description where possible, and make sure that it is in the exact format used on all of your citations, especially your Google My Business page.
Market Specific Directories
The next category of directories you should target is market-specific directories. To find these, simply search for “< your business type > directory”, e.g. “finance directory”. List yourself in as many of these as possible as long as they are of high quality and not filled with spam. Again it’s good practice to include a link to your Google + Local page in these directory listings because this it will be highly targeted and relevant as a result of the single business category focus of the directory.
High Quality National Directories
The next category of directories is the good quality national business directories. These are sites like AllTop, Qype, Freeindex, Yell, Thomson Local and Scoot (which populates the Sun and the Independent – a very high ranking directory!). These directories are amongst those favoured by Google.
Questions to Consider Before Getting Listed
Before deciding to submit to a directory, ask the following pertinent questions:
- Do the editorial policies of the directory conform to what the search engines want?
- Check out some of the sites they list. Are they high-quality, valuable resources that do not contain spam or manipulative SEO tactics? If a directory is full of outdated sites, spam sites, or miscategorized sites, it’s clearly not the best place to list your web site.
- Does the directory use human reviewers before sites are included in their listings? Examples of human-edited directories include Mahalo (www.mahalo.com) and Pharos-Search (www.pharos-search.com). For both of these search directories you can submit your site to the directory, but it won’t be included until a real person reviews it and compares it to your entry to be sure it’s accurate. Only when the site has been verified will it be included in search results for the directory.
- Investigate the track record of the directories. Do they enforce their policies? If there are lots of junky links in their directory, chances are that their policies are not really enforced.
- Do a search on the directory name and see whether there are any SEO issues regarding the directory.
- Does the directory offer reciprocal linking? You should be wary about directories that offer reciprocal linking.
- Search on the name of the directory to see whether it shows up in the search engine results. If not, that is a red flag, and you should stay away from it.
- Take a unique phrase from the directory’s home page and see whether it shows in the search engine results. If not, this is another red flag, and you should definitely stay away from it.
- Does the directory have premium sponsorships for higher-level listings? This is a sure signal that indicates to the search engines that the directory’s editorial policies may be secondary to its monetization strategy.
- Does the directory promote search engine value instead of traffic? This is another bad signal.
- Evaluate the directory’s inbound links. If the directory is obviously engaged in shady linkbuilding it would be in your best interest to avoid it.
- Is the directory’s target audience webmasters and SEO practitioners? If so, stay away from it as any potential benefit from being listed is likely to be temporary.
- Does the directory have full contact information available and/or an “About Us” page?
In order for your site to be included in a directory, it is important to abide fully by the submissions process. A mistake in the way you list your site can damage your chances of being included in the directory. To be safe, you’ll want to first of all navigate the directory so that you fully understand the listing process before actually submitting your site for inclusion.
Here are elements of your listing editors will evaluate:
- Website is correctly categorized
- Titles and descriptions are accurate.
- Theme of website is not forbidden by the directory.
- Title and descriptions are relevant to the theme of the site
- There are no spammy or manipulative links on the site
- Secure ordering capabilities on e-commerce sites
- Accurate and accessible contact information.
- Links to privacy policies, terms and conditions and return policies
- Product or service guarantees
How soon you are listed in the directory will depend on the volume of submissions. It could take weeks or months in some cases because the editors will need to review each website in order to ensure that it is suitable for inclusion. Keep in mind to submit only your site’s main page. Because directories include sites that have been reviewed, they usually list the whole site as a single entity, rather than list each page separately, as search engines do.