SEO

5 Directory Submission Ideas for Local and Global Online Businesses

iStock 000015613152XSmall 5 Directory Submission Ideas for Local and Global Online Businesses

Submitting the URL of a site to online directories has been a viable SEO tactic as well as a well-justified promo practice since the early days of Internet marketing. It has been abused to an extent, too – most by unsavvy SEO newbies who sometimes think quantity over quality, and strive for quick SEO gains.

After Penguin 2.0 hit, there’ve been rumors regarding the ineffectiveness of directory submissions for SEO, or even the potential dangers this practice holds.

However, if you read this interview with Andre Weyher (an ex-member of the Matt Cutts team), you probably know that getting listed in a relevant, reputable directory cannot possibly hurt your site. Quite on the contrary – this can get you a decent flow of traffic, increase your rankings, and help you perform better in local search.

So, how does one find appropriate directories for their niche, and how can one tell which directories are of value?

1. Search for directories on Google

A simple way to look for directories relevant to your business is to search for them on Google or another search engine. For that, you could use any of the search terms created with the help of this table:

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For example, I searched for “Best Canada accountant directory”, and here is what I got among the top 10 results:

seo directories post 1 5 Directory Submission Ideas for Local and Global Online Businesses

As a rule, some of these directories would be free to join, some would be paid, and some may have certain requirements (such as, you need to be a member of their association) and would add your company automatically once you meet the requirements.

2. Examine your competitors’ backlinks

Another good way to find relevant directories that are likely to help your site rank higher and are safe to get backlinks from, is to analyze the backlinks of your top-ranking competitors.

It’s up to you how many competitors you’d like to analyze (you can do the top 5 or the top 25) – the point is to be to be able to quickly filter out the backlinks that are not directory links and to end up with a list of directories.

For example, using our SEO SpyGlass tool, one can see competitor backlinks that come from directories in a separate window and analyze them there.

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 3. Analyze directories for quality, popularity and integrity

Now, once you have done some initial research, you’d want to narrow your list of directories down to those that are really worth getting listed in. How can you tell which are?

Estimate their quality

To get an idea what a directory is worth SEO- and traffic-wise, pay attention to the following metrics:

  • The website’s domain age
  • The domain’s PageRank and the PageRank of the page where the listing will be located
  • The number of backlinks pointing to the page
  • The number of external, outgoing links from the page
  • The URL, the title and the description of the page your listing will be appearing on

(it’s nice when these have your industry or your local keywords)

  • The directory’s user interface
  • The search tools the directory offers
  • The amount and the depth of information the directory provides

To get this data, you can use any of the available SEO toolbars or SEO software that can analyze a site for these parameters.

As you may see form the list, one should analyze the directory not only from the SEO point of view, but also from the user-experience point of view, because the more search/comparison features it offers and the better it is at presenting and structuring information, the more likely you are to get direct traffic and conversions from it.

For instance, FindTheBest has really great business comparison features:

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See how popular they are

Another good way to assess how much traffic a listing from a particular directory may bring you is to check its traffic rank/value. If it’s a US directory, you could look at the website’s Compete rank.

If you are targeting some other country, you could use other site analytics tools, for example Quantcast.

By the way, quite a lot of people still seem to rely on Alexa Rank for site traffic popularity score, but I’d warn one against trusting this metric too much, because it’s estimated by taking account only the hits by people who have Alexa Toolbar installed, and there’ve been a lot of stories about websites manipulating their Alexa rank.

Check them for integrity

And, last but not least, it’s also worth paying attention to how easily one can get listed in a particular directory. If it’s not pre-moderated or it asks for a reciprocal link back from your site, then you’d better stay away from that directory.

For instance, here is a message I came across on one occasion:

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A lot of the time you will find that, the nicer a directory is, the more likely it is to ask for at least some kind of a fee (because it needs to employ editors), set certain requirements to websites or have a listing moderation process in place.

In fact, any of these things are a good sign, and such directories are probably worth your attention.

4. Know who is who in the directory world

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Flickr image by Dan Zen

When it comes to local search, there are a number of sites every local SEO worth their salt should focus on. But how does data end up on those local search platforms, review sites, deal comparison sites, etc.?

In fact, it’s a rather small number of bigger directories that supply an extensive network of online venues with business listing data. For instance, Neustar Localeze alone powers over 100 local search services including Apple maps, YellowBook.com, TomTom, MapQuest and many others.

So, to get your business information distributed across a variety of location-oriented Web properties, it’s enough to get listed in just a few major directories (such as Yext, Infogroup and Neustar Localeze) and spare yourself the need of chasing each and every smaller directory separately.

More often than not, you’d have to pay to get listed there, and you might want to pick just one or two of those major directories, but it may come cheaper in the end, while you’ll save all that time and effort you’d spen creating and/or verifying your listings.

5. Track the effect from listings over time

After you submit your business listing to the choice directories in your final list, here are a few metrics to track to let you know how your listings perform.

Even though you probably won’t be able to track the SEO effectiveness from each listing (unless submitting your site to just one directory is the only SEO move you take), you can still check:

  • Monthly visits per listing
  • Conversion rates and sales
  • Website rankings dynamics after a round of submissions
  • Local SERP dynamics after getting into major local directories

Most of this data can be tracked in Google Analytics and by checking your site positions on Google/Google Maps.

Conclusion

If you’ve been recently looking for ways to get additional traffic, publicity and SEO value for your business, getting listed in high-quality, relevant online directories could be well worth putting on your list of marketing activities.

Not only can directory listings bring you direct visitors and be counted as legitimate votes by Google, but also have a positive effect on how one’s site performs in local search.

 

Post image credit: iStockPhoto by velkol

 

 

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Alesia Krush

Alesia is an SEO and a digital marketer at Link-Assistant.Com, a major SEO software provider and the maker of SEO PowerSuite tools. Link-Assistant.Com is a group of SEO professionals with almost a decade of SEO experience.
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9 thoughts on “5 Directory Submission Ideas for Local and Global Online Businesses

  1. Submitting the URL to online directories has been an SEO practice since the early days of Internet marketing and it’s abused to death. One should highly careful when using this method in now a days. In that matter your article is really a useful one.

    1. Thanks, Jose!

      Looks like you got me right. I intended this post for 2 categories of SEOs: those who abuse directory submissions and those who stay clear of them at any cost. I just wanted to show there was another way, since both these approaches appear quite radical to me. :)

      Cheers,
      Alesia

  2. Alesia

    Unfortunately many of the things you list as ways to ensure it’s a good directory are so outdated and completely false in 2013 as to be downright scary.

    1. Reviewing competitor backlinks is now a dangerous endeavor unless you’re a seasoned vet at proper SEO.

    2. There is no way to know if any of the overwhelming majority of links a competitor has are helping them, hurting them, or just plain not even counted by Google anymore.

    3. Just because a competitor has a certain backlink profile does not mean that’s how they are ranking for any given phrase. SEO is much more complex than such an over-simplified notion.

    4. Directory quality:
    a) Domain Age could be a false flag signal depending on other factors
    b) TBPR is the only “PR” metric the public has and it’s inaccurate and outdated
    c) Number of backlinks (see #2 above as to why this is a bogus red herring)
    d) URL / Title / Etc. While these can be helpful to identify relevance, if that’s all you’re relying on for relevance, that’s a dangerous game to play

    While I appreciate your desire to help educate people, leaving out such critical considerations is potentially harmful to readers.

    1. She works for Link-Assistant.Com which was provided a follow link to SEO Spyglass. I smell guest post. Anyway no disrespect to Alesia but I’m with Alan here. SEO is all about long term common sense tactics. Anything that allows you to submit a link with a web form should be avoided. For the 10 years I’ve done SEO I’ve avoided doggy tactics and have yet to loose in the Google game.

      1. I agree with both Alan and Bryan. Directories have been highly devalued for years now and are no longer an effective link building tactic. I also agree with Bryan in that anything that allows you to submit a link with a web form should be avoided. And number of backlinks? When you have a situation that you have a certain number of great, amazing, authority links and perhaps a bit more horribly bad links in quantity, the authority links will outweigh the results of the horribly bad links. This makes number of backlinks a very murky signal at best, which needs further analysis by an experienced SEO to decipher what they are doing to a specific website. It’s all about long term common sense tactics – and avoiding shady tactics that may get you in trouble or won’t do anything for you at all.

      2. Hi Bryan,

        I appreciate your comment as well, thank you. I’d only like to point out, if I may, that submitting a site to directories that are easy-peasy to get listed in (not moderated, doggy-looking) is exactly what my post discourages people from in the end. :)

        Best,
        Alesia

    2. Hi Alan,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post.

      First off, let it be known that I have a lot of respect for you as an SEO specialist. Second, I think that the things you’ve pointed out do not really contradict what I said in the post. I believe that what happened was you took one line from it and sort of absolutized the statement.

      1. >>Reviewing competitor backlinks is now a dangerous endeavor unless you’re a seasoned vet at proper SEO.

      I totally agree. Yes, there’s danger in mindless copying of a competitor’s backlink tactics. But, in the context of my post, I suggested competitor backlink analysis primarily as a way to discover niche directories – after which evaluation of those directories from multiple perspectives is required.

      2. >>There is no way to know if any of the overwhelming majority of links a competitor has are helping them, hurting them, or just plain not even counted by Google anymore.

      I couldn’t agree more. One can never know for sure which backlinks are counted by Google and to what extent. However, I’m all for data-driven SEO, and the more backlink stats one can lay their hands on, the more informed their SEO decisions become – which is better than complete absence of any SEO analysis whatsoever.

      3. >>Just because a competitor has a certain backlink profile does not mean that’s how they are ranking for any given phrase. SEO is much more complex than such an over-simplified notion.

      Even though I believe this statement was important to make, I re-read my post once again, but I couldn’t find a part where I’d give that exact reasoning.

      4. >> Directory quality:
      a) Domain Age could be a false flag signal depending on other factors
      b) TBPR is the only “PR” metric the public has and it’s inaccurate and outdated
      c) Number of backlinks (see #2 above as to why this is a bogus red herring)
      d) URL / Title / Etc. While these can be helpful to identify relevance, if that’s all you’re relying on for relevance, that’s a dangerous game to play

      Well, of course any of these signals considered in isolation would NOT be indicative of a high-quality directory. But together they can be a strong hint that would point one in the right direction.

      >>While I appreciate your desire to help educate people, leaving out such critical considerations is potentially harmful to readers.

      Thank you, Alan! Again, I do appreciate your reading my post carefully, and providing a detailed reply. I hope our discussion will remind readers that seeing the big picture is a must in SEO. That’s the conflict of any SEO content: it’s either too general or too specific. If you write in a general way, you’ll appear not being up to the point. If you give step-by-step instructions based on SEO metrics and data, there’s a danger people will just follow them without looking around and having a strategy. What’s the happy medium, Alan?

  3. Hello Alesia,

    Great article! Building your company’s SEO by submitting to online directories is a great way to get your local and global presence felt. Another great business listings management company that local companies and national brands can work with is Local Market Launch. They submit and claim your company’s information (name, address, phone number, etc.) to the top 30 online directories and complete digital syndication through the top four syndication sites (Factual, Axicom, Localeze, and Infogroup).

  4. I have to say, some quality information here !

    And “Alan Bleiweiss ” with the right software
    you would easily find out if the back links are
    hurting your site, or improving your rankings.

    I have wrote a couple of post about it myself.