1. Why links from directories are so valuable There's nothing the search engines value more than one-way links pointing to your site from other relevant, respected sites. So naturally, over the years people have thought up all sorts of tricks for getting inbound links with no effort -- link farms, link brokers, link exchanges -- and they do work... ... But only for a while. Then the search engines shut 'em down, and any site that uses those tactics drops like a rock from wherever they were in the search results. A directory, on the other hand, is an indexed list of websites that is created and maintained by human editors rather than electronic spiders or robots. Editors review submitted sites and then rank and categorize them based on specific criteria. This "human touch" is the key reason the search engines traditionally put high weighting on links to your site from directories. That's one of the reasons links from established web directories came to be so beneficial to your site's organic search engine rankings. But of course so many directories popped up using a completely automated submission process that they were basically just link sellers. Since Google has really clamped down on selling links, a lot of directories have been delisted, their rankings have dropped, or they're just not worth your time. But well-respected established directories are a great way to get valuable links quickly -- you just have to do a bit of research to make sure a directory is worthwhile. In this lesson, we'll tell you which ones to focus on first, plus some others that will also give your site's organic search engine rankings a boost. 2. How to get links with the web's top directories Getting your site listed in the Web's top directories can have a big impact on your organic search engine ranking because of these directories' high PageRank. (For more about what PageRank is and why you should care, go back to Lesson 2 of this module.) For example, check out the PageRank for the top two directories on the Internet: Open Directory Project (www.dmoz.org): PageRank 8 Yahoo! Directory (http://dir.yahoo.com): PageRank 8 We recommend you start with these two first, so let's take a look at each. a. Open Directory Project One of the best-known examples of a directory is the Open Directory Project (ODP), which is entirely free and run by volunteer editors. The ODP powers the directory portions of Google, Netscape Search, AOL Search, Lycos, HotBot, DirectHit, and hundreds of others. Submitting your site is free -- but it's so overwhelmed with submissions that it can take two years to list a site. Your best bet for getting indexed is to submit for more specific, niche keywords, not general ones because this increases your chances of getting your site in front of the human editors more quickly. You'll find that all the sites listed are broken up into categories based on topic, and some categories have several thousand listings. For example, in the ODP, the category of "Dogs" under "Recreation > Pets > Dogs" has 17,469 listings. This is a very popular category, which means your submission will likely be at the bottom of a very long waiting list! To get your submission reviewed more quickly, look for a subcategory that has only a small number of sites listed in it. The editors for the more specific categories aren't as snowed under with submissions. If you offer a short newsletter or e-zine about training dogs with behavioral problems, for example, you could submit your URL under the "Recreation > Pets > Dogs > Training > Behavior Problems" category -- there are just 28 listings here. When you've found a relevant category and you come to submit your site through the "Suggest URL" link at the top of the page, you'll be asked to enter the following information about your site: Site URL Title of site Site Description Your email address You'll also be reminded to check that you're submitting your site to the correct category. In the dog training example used above, this category is only for "non- commercial sites providing advice and information on dealing with specific behavior problems." If your site is selling something you would be advised to go to the "Shopping > Pets > Dogs" category. b. Yahoo! Directory Submitting your site to the Yahoo! Directory costs $299. Paying the $299 does NOT guarantee your site will be listed; it only ensures that your site will be evaluated by Yahoo's editors within seven business days of submission. You must then pay $299 every year to maintain your listing in the directory. While this might seem like a lot of money, bear in mind that Yahoo's directory is one of the best on the Web -- and your site will be reviewed way more quickly than when you submit to the Open Directory Project. To submit your site for review in the Yahoo! directory, got to http://dir.yahoo.com, click the "Suggest a site" link in the top right corner, and follow the instructions from there. c. Small directories you can also submit to There are also a number of smaller directories you should consider listing in as well. We'll give you a long list of these in Step 4 of this lesson, but for now, here are four SEO-friendly you should definitely consider submitting your site to: Best of the Web (http://botw.org): PageRank 6 The cost of this service is an annually recurring review fee of $99.95, OR a one-time fee of $249.95. Gimpsy (www.gimpsy.com): PageRank 5 It costs $49 to get your site reviewed within 72 hours or $29 to get it reviewed within 30 days. If you opt for the free submission you could have to wait six months or more for your site to be reviewed. GoGuides (www.goguides.org): PageRank 5 GoGuides charges a one-time fee of $69.95. Wow Directory (www.wowdirectory.com): PageRank 3 Basic free submission is available -- but expect a long wait for your site to be reviewed. Instead, you can pay $43 for an Express Review or $65 (per year) for a Sponsored Review. 3. Our top tips for submitting your site to directories Remember that directories are managed by human editors -- and they're usually swamped with submissions to review! So even if you're paying for their service, it's in your best interest to make their job easy to make sure you get a good listing in the fastest time possible! To do that, follow these six tips every time you submit to a different directory. a. Submit to the right category Read the guidelines of each directory you submit to and do your homework to make sure you are submitting to the best possible category. b. Keep records of your submissions Record all the directories you have submitted to in a spreadsheet, with the listing and keywords you used as well as the date you submitted and category page you should show up on. c. Use keywords Every directory you submit to will ask for a short description of your site. Make sure you use your top keywords strategically throughout your description. Vary the title, anchor text, and body of your description for each directory you submit to. It'll make these links seem more authentic in the eyes of Google. d. Write a detailed description Don't forget the end user either. Use your description to tell the potential customer "what's in it for them" so they click on your listing. Give as much detail as possible under each directory's guidelines. Studies have shown that people are more likely to click through from listings that give them solid information. e. Take your time to submit You don't have to do it all in a day. Remember, you want everything to look and seem natural -- as if they picked your website. Don't expect to get much traffic from the directories themselves. That's not what this is about. It's about getting those links! (That said, not all directories work to help your SEO efforts, but if the directory in question can bring you traffic and sales it is still worth your while.) f. Only submit your site once Only submit once to free directories. You won't get listed any quicker by submitting your site over and over -- in fact, the editor will probably just think you're a spammer and reject your submission completely! 4. Seventeen other reputable directories to consider We've already covered the Web's top directories that you should consider submitting to first in Step 2 of this lesson. However, there are TONS of directories out there -- free and paid -- that can help boost your search engine rankings. The trouble is, there are also some less-than-reputable directories lurking around too. To make life easier for you, we've compiled this list of 17 other SEO- friendly directories that you might want to consider submitting your site to. You can expect to pay anywhere from $0 - $300 for each submission, with the majority falling in around the $30 - $40 range. Although this isn't the cheapest way to get quality links to your website, it's definitely one of the fastest. And the extra traffic you'll get from a good ranking with Google will easily pay for your investment! Here's a list of directories that we recommend:Directory URL Price 01 Web Directory www.01webdirectory.com $49 Aviva www.avivadirectory.com $49.95 or $74.95 Azoos www.azoos.com $89.95 Browse8 www.browse8.com $35 Business www.business.com $299 JoeAnt www.joeant.com $39.99 Librarians Internet Index www.lii.org FREE Massive Links www.massivelinks.com $29.99 (basic) Rubber Stamped www.rubberstamped.org $39.95 SevenSeek www.sevenseek.com $50 or $99.95 Site-Sift www.site-sift.com $29.95 (standard) Site Snoop www.sitesnoop.com $15 Skaffe www.skaffe.com $39.99 Starting Point www.stpt.com $99 This Is Our Year www.thisisouryear.com $24.95 Uncover the Net www.uncoverthenet.com/directory $59 (standard) Web Beacon www.web-beacon.com $39.99 Please note that some of these prices are one-off payments, while others are annual fees. 5. Final thoughts As we said, the upside of getting listed with a directory is a top- quality link from a highly ranked website, which boosts your site's own ranking in the search results. The downside is that human editors do all the "crawling," and they're often buried under piles of requests for site reviews. That means you often have to pay to get your site reviewed and listed quickly -- otherwise directories can take a lot longer to get around to indexing your site. Directories are similar to search engines in that you should submit to them only ONCE. You won't get listed any faster if you continually resubmit your site -- and you might end up annoying the editors! Plus, once your site has been listed, you can always ask the directory to update their index if you notice any problems with your listing. (If you're using your site to sell products, and if your products are competitively priced, you may also want to consider registering your site with the shopping bots. For more on this, check out Module 12.)Your Action Plan: Submit your site to: Open Directory Project (www.dmoz.org) Yahoo! Directory (http://dir.yahoo.com) Consider submitting to these directories: Best of the Web (http://botw.org) Gimpsy (www.gimpsy.com) GoGuides (www.goguides.org) Wow Directory (www.wowdirectory.com) Look at the other directories we listed in Step 4 of this lesson and search the Web for directories relevant to your industry that you can submit to.
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