The Internet now features a large number of both general purpose and specialized directories. The specialized directories focus on a specific topic or region.
Unfortunately, submitting your web site to the plethora of available directories requires a significant investment of time and effort. The key to achieving a positive ROI (Return On Investment) from directory submissions is to focus on those directories which will provide you with high-quality inbound links.
It is important to note that many web directories have issues which prevent them from providing useful links. Taking the time understand these issues and submit only to the directories which will provide value will provide significant time savings in promoting your site.
A Taxonomy of Web Directory Issues
Web Directories Which Are No Longer Managed
A survey of 79 general-purpose web directories revealed that 62% of those web directories do not appear to be processing submissions.
In many cases, this is because the operators of the web directory launched their site with great enthusiasm, became overwhelmed by the amount of effort required to maintain a web directory, and stopped maintaining their directory. These operators leave their directories online to take advantage of the residual advertising revenue, but no longer invest the time required to process directory submissions.
Web Directories which Block Search Engine Robots
Some SEO’s believe that they can preserve Google PageRank by not giving outbound links from their web sites.
Web directories which operate in this manner will sometimes block Googlebot and other search engine robots from their directory pages using robots.txt or meta tags.
Before submitting to a web directory, check the PageRank of the directory page upon which you expect your listing to appear. If that page has a PageRank of zero, it could mean that the site operator is blocking Googlebot.
However, this same symptom can also mean that the site or the page is new, and has not been assigned Google PageRank yet. To research this further, examine the sites robots.txt file and the source code to the directory page upon which you expect your listing to appear.
Web Directories which use Scripted Links
To determine if scripted links are in use, place your mouse cursor over an outbound link on the directory page upon which you expect to appear. Examine the link text which appears in the lower left corner of your browser.
A proper HTML link will look something like this:
Free Directory Scammers
Several web directories pretend to accept free submissions, but in reality these free submissions are never processed.
These directories claim to accept free submissions as part of a bait-and-switch tactic to upsell webmasters into paid submissions.
Often these web directories will claim to provide free service for web sites which meet certain defined criteria. It just happens that no web site ever manages to meet those criteria!
Web Directories which Require Reciprocal Links
Some web directories require you to link back to them in order to be listed. This helps build the PageRank of the directory, which benefits all web sites in the directory.
Some people view these sites as link-farms.
If your web site is unable to provide a link back to these directories, do not invest your time submitting your web site to these directories.
Reciprocal linking is not an appropriate strategy for all web sites.
Some web directories charge for submissions. These web directories charge either a subscription fee, a one-time fee, or a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) fee.
Some of these web directories charge exorbitant fees — and a few of these web directories charge this fee whether your site is accepted or not!
Although there are exceptions, the general rule is that paid directories do not provide a positive ROI.
A few web directories stand out by offering good user interfaces, speedy inclusion, and plain HTML links which pass PageRank:
All The Web Sites
The Super Ultra Mega Web Directory
World Site Index
Submitting your web sites to web directories is an excellent method of building quality inbound links.
Submitting your web site to only the best web directories can net you 90% of the results with 20% of the effort.