SEO Directories - A Godsend?

by : Danny Wirken

Directories have been around for some time now, even longer than search engines have. Directories, like search engines, are used by people to search for websites containing the information they seek. However, the way they do the search and present their results are very different. Search engines use web crawlers to find and index websites on their own and will produce search results from the database of these indexed sites. Although there is an Add URL page in some search engines, websites generally are added to the search engine's index automatically and not via submissions. On the other hand, websites owners need to submit their URL directly to directories in order to be included in the directories' database. The submitted websites are then placed under specific categories with each site having a brief site description. Most directories take some time to approve websites before they can be added to the directories' listing.

Traffic from Directories

Although, as mentioned earlier, directories arrived in the Internet scene before search engines did, search engines have become the more popular way for searching websites. With the advent of search engines people have come to question the viability of directories and whether people still use them to search for websites. In David Wallace's article on Directories and Your SEO Campaign - Love 'Em or Hate 'Em, he found the answer to this question by going to his web servers that track all the activity in his websites. He found that not surprisingly most of his traffic came from search engines but that there were some directory referrals that still existed as well. Though it is true that in comparison to the traffic that search engines generate for web sites the traffic from directories seem measly, a website owner should not discount the importance of this traffic. As they say every cent counts, rather, every visitor counts.

SEO and Directories

Directories, however, have a new use for website owners, especially those who are SEO conscious. SEO people know that link popularity is very important when it comes to scoring well in order to get higher page ranks and thus get listed among the top results of search engines' results pages (SERPs).

There are two important factors in link popularity. One is the quantity of links and the other is the quality of links. SEO Directories help websites in that they are able to boost a website's link popularity as soon as a website is added to the directory. This is because the directories can pass a large quantity of links from various websites belonging in the same category of a specific website. In addition to this good directories are selective in the quality of websites they allow to be added in their listing. Hence, the quality of links passed on by directories is almost always of good quality. So once a website is listed in a directory it is almost always sure that the site's link popularity will rise and so will the site's page rank.

New Websites and Directories

SEO directories are also very useful for new websites in that web crawlers usually crawl directories and get to index new sites from there. Although a website can submit its URL to search engines, search engines prefer automated indexing of sites. Aside from getting noticed by search engines new sites should keep in mind that being listed in a good directory will automatically give them a good link popularity instead of the site having to build it up slowly. It is possible for a new site to establish high link popularity without being part of a directory but it would take much effort and time and will most probably not even happen to many websites unless the site is if superior quality.

Choosing a Good Directory

When choosing a directory to submit your website to, there are several factors to keep in mind: the directory' reputation or quality, the cost of getting listed, the length of time it takes to get listed upon submission. In the last few years there have been quite a number of new directories that have popped up. However some of these directories offer virtually no quality control and tend to accept any kind of website that submits themselves for listing. Although the nature of directories are supposed to be such that only sites of quality get listed, the new breed of indiscriminate directories, whose real purpose is to simply build link popularity for the websites has marred the reputation of directories as a whole. Google and other search engines of course quickly caught on to the new questionable practice of trying to get higher link popularity in this way. Because of this Google has been banning some directories and have given less value to the links found in others. This is entirely justifiable since link popularity, as mentioned earlier, depends on the quality of links, and since the directories accept websites of even low quality then naturally the value of links from these sites is going to low. It is therefore imperative that website owners do some research on the web directory they plan to submit their website to since and submit to only those with sound reputation.

Cost is also always a factor in choosing directories. For low budget sites there are plenty of directories out there that offer free listing. Usually the free listing of course comes with conditions like slower processing time, being required to have a reciprocal link, or being a volunteer editor. The condition that comes with it is worth it though and shouldn't be a big issue. The free directories usually give websites the option of not having to deal with the conditions if the website opts to pay a minimal one time fee. The only directory that remains to be truly free is the Open Directory or Dmoz. Websites aren't given the option to pay but the processing time is reputed to be particularly long especially if the volunteer editor of the website's category is not very active. The length in processing time is however worth it for quality sites since Dmoz is known for accepting only websites of high quality. There are also plenty of options for paid directories out there with prices ranging from a $25 one time fee to as much as a $299 annually recurring fee. Whatever directories you choose to submit to, whether paid or free or a combination of both, remember that the quality of the directory should be your first consideration. Remember also that before you do submit your website for listing on any directory be sure that you have made your site as appealing, full of fresh and quality content, and as of high quality as possible. This would not only ensure inclusion in the directories' listings but would determine your site's success as well.