Using Directories to Boost Your Search Engine Rankings

Mon, Feb 18, 2008

Directory Submission

Submitting links to web directories can be a great way to increase highly relevant traffic to your site. Inbound links are one of the most important factors in how search engines ranks websites, and so this can be a major plus. Also, submitting links to specific directories and categories will create more relevant traffic for your site. This is the best kind of traffic you can receive, because it will drive conversions and help you rank better for keywords related to the subject your site addresses.

However, choosing the right directories to submit to is very important to your search engine optimization strategies. What follows are tips for choosing and using directories that will be the most effective so you don’t waste your efforts.

1. Choosing Directories with Page Ranks

Check the page rank of the directory you’re considering using. You can do this easily through Google. Generally, you want to choose a directory whose main page has a rank of at least 5. Be sure to also check the rank of interior pages, if they have them. The categories or internal pages you’re considering linking your site under should have ranks of at least 2, because these will have the most viewers, and therefore drive the most traffic to your site.

2. Does the Directory Use Dynamic Pages that Search Engines have a Hard Time Indexing?

You can check this quite easily through Google or Yahoo by entering the search term “site:www.domainname.com”. If the results show lots of pages with unique titles and description tags, then you can assume that the directory in question is search engine friendly, and therefore worth using.

3. Will the directory provide you direct links to your site, or will it instead use a tracking code?

Less helpful directories will not provide your link with a value or page rank. You can easily check this by locating an existing site in the directory and holding your mouse over it until you can see the URL appear in the bottom left side of your browser. If you see that this is a direct link to a domain, this generally means the directory will be effective. If this appears as a tracking URL, then this will not provide you with the direct links you want, and the directory is not worth using.

However, some sites will appear as direct links but not actually be direct links, and instead are hidden by a Java script to conceal the fact that these links receive no Page Rank and therefore no attention from search engines.

Use this tool to check the source code. If you see the term “NOFOLLOW” in the source code, then no page rank will be assigned to your link, and the directory is not worth using.

4. Does the directory pass on link credit to sites that it lists?

This is very important. You can test this by choosing a few sites listed in the directory and checking their backlinks by entering the search term “link:www.domainname.com” into Google, Yahoo or any other search engine.

Scan the results to see if there are any links listed from the directory you are investigating. If you find them, the directory is effective and worth using.

However, if you do not find them, don’t cast the directory off just yet. Sometimes sites with lower page ranks do not appear in these link results, especially when using Google. Try to check sites with higher page ranks. If you find one or a few that have backlinks listed by Google, then the directory can be said to have value.

Strangely, Yahoo and MSN often display more backlinks than Google. This may indicate that using links in directories is more effective for boosting ranking in these search engines. So use discretion, but generally assume that a backlink that appears in Google indicates a very good directory.

5. Are there too many sites already listed in your relevant category on the directory?

Generally, you want to choose directories that have less than 25 sites listed to improve focus on your own. Some directories may warrant adding your link to categories with more, but never list on categories that have more than 50 sites. Too many links means diluted value for each one, so the less, the better.

6. Choosing between free directories and directories with fees.

The advantage of directories that carry fees is that they often guarantee to review and consider your link within a short amount of time. This does not however guarantee inclusion in the directory. Be sure to read the fine print concerning submission standards, and to ensure that your site and link comply with all of them, because you don’t want to waste money applying to sites that are going to reject your link. However, directories with fees are well-respected and popular, and so they definitely provide somewhat of an advantage over less quality free directories.

For free directories, be careful to choose ones that are updated often with new links. Sometimes, the sheer volume of link applications they receive means that yours won’t be reviewed for quite some time, if at all. However, if you can find good ones, never pass up on the opportunity to gain valuable backlinks for free.

7. General directories vs. industry specific directories.

When it comes down to it, both types of directories can be useful in boosting your traffic. Industry specific directories have obvious additional value however, since they will bring you targeted, relevant traffic, which essentially means higher quality traffic. The people you want viewing your site are the people interested in what your site offers.

A Selection of Quality Directories with Proven Results

Below are listed some directories that we have found to be effective. These can be excellent places to start.

Open Directory (Free) – One of the most popular directories out there, Open Directory is owned by AOL, and Google uses it to power their directory feature. However, due to their popularity they receive lots of submissions, and therefore can be very slow in reviewing and adding your link. Pay careful attention to the submission requirements, as they are very strict.

About.Com (Free) – Another very popular site, About hires writers and editors to create and monitor specific categories of content and articles. Each page has a list of suggested links on the subjects they address. If you feel your site can be very useful to readers of these articles and pages, write their editors and request to be listed.

Wikipedia (Free) – Wikipedia offers user-generated content on an endless variety of subjects. While not truly a directory site, each subject page lists relevant links, which you can add yourself. This is best for sites that really focus on a niche market or subject, as those pages will have less people submitting links to their sites. More popular subjects can have listings of links that change every hour, while less popular, more niche subjects may have links that remain for many months.

Yahoo Directory (Annual Fee) – Yahoo directories have very high page ranks, and being listed in them can be very effective for boosting search engine traffic, especially because they do very well in Google. The fee for a year is $299.00, but if the category you’re targeting has a high page rank, it’s definitely worth it.

Business.com (Annual Fee) – This directory is a B2B only site, meaning you will only be able to list here if your site provides products or services for other businesses. It can be effective, but with a fee of $199.00 annually, there may be better options. You only want to list here if your site or service is in a very competitive field, and the category you want to post in has a Page Rank of at least 3.

Gimpsy (One-time Fee) – Gimpsy is a good directory with an index page rank of 6, and higher page ranks for it’s internal, specific categories. For $40, you can submit to Gimpsy, with the added bonus of having your link listed in the top, most visible part of your category for 90 days, assuming you are accepted. Moreover, if your link is rejected, you will receive a 20$ refund, making Gimpsy a great value.

Best of the Web (Varying One Time Fees) – Best of the Web is the oldest directory out there, and therefore it has good credibility with search engines. Regular sites carry a fee of $29.95, while adult sites are charged $49.95. It carries a main page Page Rank of 7, with most of the internal categories coming in at around a 5.

Finding the right directories to submit links to may take some time, but in the end the payoff from higher traffic will be worth it when you find the right ones. Stick to these steps and don’t make exceptions, and directory backlinking will work out very well for you.

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This post was written by:

Cassiano Travareli - who has written 90 posts on SEO Blog | SEO Marketing World.

SEO Specialist! Loves everything about Search Engine Marketing.

One Response to “Using Directories to Boost Your Search Engine Rankings”

  1. Simon Says:

    Is spending time on directories really worth it? the market seems diluted with 1000s of directories now. Are the high page rank directories really going to drive any traffic to my site?


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