The common refrain in webmaster circles is that directories are dead and are not worth submitting to any more. But directories do offer a number of benefits and so should be considered an essential part of the marketing mix for any serious website. Some of the benefits they offer are: co-citation, anchor text, targeted traffic, and deep links.
So why do webmasters commonly believe directories are dead? This is because they make a number of mistakes in submitting to directories that end up costing them many of the benefits they could get. These costly mistakes are:
(1) Costly Mistake #1 – Submitting to 300+ free directories. This will probably do nothing to help your website’s rankings and may even hurt it. In Google, a few quality links will outweigh the benefits of many spammy links. I’ve put together a list of directories ranked by SEOmoz’s page strength tool which gives a good starting point for determining what the best directories
(2) Costly Mistake #2 – Worrying about price rather than value. A common question I hear asked is: “which directories can I submit to for under $20?” However, the Google algorithm relies heavily on the authority of the websites linking to you. Using this logic, you would never submit to Yahoo! directory, which is probably the easiest way to get an authority link to your website. You will get the most value out of web directory submissions by submitting to the best ones, rather than the cheapest ones.
(3) Costly Mistake #3 – Believing that directories don’t pack much link juice. This is false. The fact is that there are many directories out there with a tremendous quality and quantity of backlinks. I’ve compiled a list of directories ranked by number of backlinks. As you can see, many directories have more than half a million backlinks and quite a few more have more than a quarter of a million backlinks.
(4) Costly Mistake #4 – Assuming that web directories are not part of the “active web.” There tends to be a bias among bloggers that blogs are more active than more static websites, such as directories. However, if you look at the Alexa data for directories, you will find that a lot of them have significant traffic. While Alexa is an imperfect measure, it’s the best we’ve got and also tends to be more accurate for high traffic sites.
(5) Costly Mistake #5 – Not varying anchor text and descriptions. From what I’ve seen, a lot of submitters seem to use the same anchor text and description for all of their directory submissions. My editors spend a large amount of time re-writing this. A good way to set up a red flag with Google is suddenly to gain a lot of links to your site with the exact same anchor text and the exact same surrounding text. Ideally, all of your directory submissions should use unique wording. At the very least, have several versions of anchor text and descriptions that you use when submitting to directories.
(6) Costly Mistake #6 – Not writing a powerful description of your website. Although directories frown on hyped up descriptions, to get people to click on your link,you should take the trouble to write something that motivates people to find out more about your website. John Scott provides a good example.
(7) Costly Mistake #7 – Believing that Google frowns on directory submissions. This is false. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines specifically state: “Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites.” As well, Matt Cutts has specifically stated that there is nothing wrong with submitting to quality directories.