Directory Submissions: Still a Tool for Gaining Traffic and SEO Help

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Are you looking to increase the popularity of your relevant links or simply build traffic? A common opinion of directories today is that they are quickly becoming an outdated tool. Personally, I believe the people who have that opinion are likely to be those who don’t know how to utilize directories correctly.

There are few reasons people may be suspicious when it comes to submitting to directories these days. First of all, Google is getting smarter each day and is quick to recognize duplicated content. If Google suspects submissions to be paid linking, the search engine will pay less attention to the link, therefore decreasing the links opportunity for decent PR and traffic gain. Also, there is no doubt that directories are fading in popularity because they are having to compete with blogs and wikis which typically provide interactive opportunities such as videos, linking, and commenting.

Directories can be beneficial for SEO if those using them know what to look for. Before going into the areas that should be avoided, it is important to know how directories can help. Directories can increase page rank and search referrals. Most importantly, the more you get your link exposed, the higher the chances are of receiving traffic. If a directory, like a link, is sending you traffic then there is no reason that Google or any other search engine should devalue their links. Directories will only benefit you opposed to hurting you unless of course the link is submitted to an awful directory. Avoiding bad directories is simple once you know what to watch out for.

Stay away from Directories with the following:

  • Bad directories will lack in substance. By this I mean there will likely be many categories and very few listings within each category.
  • Some directories will often notify you of a reciprocal link request. A request is fine but if a directory demands a reciprocal link, you will not want to use it.
  • Concentrate on recognizing spammy content such as pharmacy and casino linking, especially in the sidebars of the directory.
  • If a directory asks for your e-mail address but doesn’t provide a privacy policy then it is not worth utilizing.
  • If a directory is lacking in quality links then its very likely the links are not being indexed. Dig into the links within your most relevant categories. Are they relevant to the theme and to your site? Are they trash links to a bunch of .infos? If submissions are made to a directory which is not being indexed, then there is no link juice being directed to your link.

The best directories are careful when deciding the content they will allow to be submitted. I used to wonder if directories just accept anyone who pays them. My curiosity vanished after I paid for a link and had it rejected due to lack of quality. The best directories will be selective so it is important to follow submission instructions before you try to add website. Instruction will vary depending on the directory.  There are a few types of directories to familiarize yourself with. You will want to choose the type that is most specific to your needs.

Directory TypesDescription
Generalaccepts a variety of websites and have large category selections
Regionalaccepts general and niche submissions and have large category selections specific to an area
Nicheonly accepts links which fall into the website niche
Articlelists articles instead of websites and tend to be general
Blogaccepts general,regional or niche but only if they are blogs
Podcastaccepts audio and video

The idea is to find the directory that will ultimately give you the best results. If you have a blog you will obviously choose a blog directory. If you have a very specific audience, you will want to choose a niche directory if possible. Directories which accommodate your site will allow for high acceptance rates and increase your chances of traffic. Processing time and price will vary. DMOZ is a free general Directory that most SEO professionals recognize as a powerful tool . It is competitive as far as approval but great in quality. Yahoo is also free for non commercial sites. If you are in search of a some useful blog directories, this list of twenty blog directories has been a nice reference for me. Higher prices do not always mean higher quality but avoiding expensive directories is not the way to go. Typically, the more expensive, the more selective the directory is with the links it allows.

Some Recommended Directories include:

If you still need help choosing the best directory or simply want to search directories via page rank or value Web Directory Search is an excellent source. Once the appropriate directories have been chosen, anchor text and description need to be determined. Remembering to switch up your anchor text and descriptions in multiple directories is very important. Search engines do not want to see repetitive content because eventually, duplicated content will be looked upon as paid or spam. The goal is to make submissions appear organic. Anchor text should always brand your link. Descriptions are best when kept short. I would suggest no more than a sentence.

Like most Internet marketing, directories can change over time. An optimal link today may be considered garbage in a year from now. A valued directory could be acquired and then covered with spam at a later date. With that being said, I recommend buying yearly packages when paying directories unless they offer an amazing lifetime price, that way if they get spammed out you can always cancel your link.

If all of the above is taken into consideration, directory submissions can be an excellent SEO tool. Simply put, if a quality directory is sending traffic, it is definitely worth submitting to.

Joanna Batten is an SEO & Linking Analyst at Search & Social, an SEO & social media marketing firm which is the parent company of Search Engine Journal. Joanna specializes in developing long term linking strategies and building overall web presence for S&S’s client base and web properties.

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  • Alan Bleiweiss

    Ah yes – from time to time we need to be reminded that we’re not the only ones thinking like this on such subjects! But DMOZ the real question is – will DMOZ ever grow up and actually have someone there to speak with? ūüôā

    • Loren Baker, Editor

      I’m waiting for Best of the Web to buy DMOZ from AOL.

    • Joanna Batten

      DMOZ is such a large directory that I can understand why it would be difficult for contact and reply. I agree though. Someone should be available for more feasible customer service. I know you can contact the editor of the category if it has one but good luck with that. It’s a human edited site by volunteers. I’m not sure how organized that is. I deal with it because its still a great FREE directory.

  • Robert A. Kearse

    RE:Blog Directories

    The backlinks from blog directories should be combined with the backlinks from the articles submitted to article directories (on topics closely related to your blog’s most important keywords).

    A properly developed backlink program will deliver far more targeted traffic to your blog due to its impact on the search engines than due to the actual directory links themselves.

    I maintain a list of The Top 101 Blog Directories & RSS Submission Sites on my blog at:

    Blog Directories List

    Since I update this list weekly there are now 501 entries listed with NO DEAD LINKS.

    Try to submit to 3-5 directories PER DAY. This discipline will pay big dividends over the long run.

    If you find sufficient value in this list, please link to it in your blogroll.


    Best of success,

    Robert A. Kearse

  • dreamer

    There are so many directories… so many websites, so much competition for every single keyword ever typed into a search engine… for someone trying to launch a website on their own…. what a task!

    • Joanna Batten

      The thing to remember is directories are not solely meant for website popularity, instead the goal should be link exposure and long term traffic gain

  • David Leonhardt

    Does DMOZ really still exist? Several years ago I gave up on them, as they were not adding new links for, well, for several years already at that time.

    • Suthnautr

      I’ve submitted a few different categories of business sites to DMOZ fairly recently and have had them added successfully. I’m wary of the second tier directories now though, yet agree that careful investigation shouldn’t cause Google to wince.

      In late 2008, Matt Cutts and Maile Ohye, as well as a few others from Google were asked in an interview why Google removed the “Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!” from the webmaster’s guidelines.

      Their answer was that Google may possibly discount directory links in the future, but the reason was precisely what you are speaking against – too many novices were submitting indiscriminately to every directory under the sun, worthless ones included.

      Part of that problem comes from reading older out of date published material on SEO without the ability to sift out what’s not good advice, and take what is and use it.

  • Terry Van Horne

    “Bad directories will lack in substance. By this I mean there will likely be many categories and very few listings within each category” Or it could just simply be a new directory with only a few listings. If you get 1% of your traffic from directories then that is1% more than anyone else is getting. Directories other than tightly targeted niche, yahoo or DMOZ are all about the SEO because it aint the traffic.

  • John Miller

    Wow! This was very helpful. Great work Joanna! Keep these coming!

  • imroz

    great posts and ideas. obviously directories need to be used intelligently to get the expected results overtime.

  • M

    Directory links definitely hold value provided you do it right. The main reason people get into trouble is by submitting the site to too many directories in a short time. Another reason is to submit to directories listed on the same IP. There are many now-a-days. Some people own as high as 50 to 100 directories listed on the same IP. I have compiled a list of free directories and segregated them based on the IP. You can check it out here:

  • Nick LeRoy

    Thanks for the great read – I too believe that people brush off directories too quickly. In my opinion its the search engine authority that is most valuable when it comes to these listings. Of course the link is nice too! ūüôā

    Spun. ūüôā

  • Mark Rushworth

    My tip is to use the SEO Chat PR search tool to determine pages within a directory that have the most PR (for the given value of PR these days) and then submit into those categories.

  • HighPoint

    I’m still a believer in directories, but you have to do your homework. IMO there are about 50-100 directories that offer some substantial value with their links, and the rest are not worth submitting to.

    Our best practice is to always check the cache date on a directory before submitting. If the directory hasn’t been cached within the last 30 days, it’s not real important in the search engines eyes, and probably not worth submitting to.

    Good article.

  • Directory List

    Directories can still work if not so competitive terms are used in the titles, it’s been tested in a case study:

    While a lot of directories are crappy, it’s more difficult to filter out the crappy ones from the good ones, and so at times it might be advisable to hire someone or a company to have the submissions done for you. Even if it means submitting to some not so great directories, I don’t think those can harm in anyway as long as you’re not wasting time doing the submissions.

  • Joanna Batten

    thanks for the case study post

  • William Atkin

    What I think some people are missing with the link building argument about directories is that sites should have a diverse link profile. You can say directories provide no value but even low or medium quality links can be beneficial you, if done correctly.

  • chris boggs

    btw I love the redesign Loren!

  • Gerald Weber

    Here is my question. You referenced buying links in directories a few times. It’s clear that some of the higher PR directories are proud and thus want to charge for listing your site. Now Google clearly frowns upon paid links unless they are no followed. So aside from the fact that you are going to be shelling out a lot of extra cash, there is also the concern of a Google “B slap” penatly. I personally don’t want to piss of big G. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks in advance.

    • Joanna

      The idea is to build one-way links. If you submit to a highly respected directory, you may not get listed on Google but you will get noticed by other search engines. Typically, the more expensive links are worth submitting to.

  • karmadir

    I think right now, the future of directories lies in niche directories since they are theme based websites they will be quite popular in demand for giving quality one way relevant link.

  • Mark

    I agree that it is worth wile submitting to a handful of directories – Yahoo,, JoeAnt, BOTW, STPT, etc.

    DMOZ is worth submitting to but don’t get your hopes up and don’t cry if you don’t get in. I can also tell you that DMOZ is active as I edit a few categories myself – only thing to remember is that tens of thousands of volunteers are managing the directory and many categories are not managed at all. As an editor I can also tell you that its a pain in the as$ and therefore Im not in there every day – or even every week!

    The other “lower quality” directories – are really not worth much – but it also costs almost nothing to submit your site – so why not – my seo theory is do everything as long as its not too much.

    As for long term link value – most directory links move as more links are added – therefore your link ends up on a page nnot indexed or not regularly cached before you know it – so if you do like to submit to those “lower quality” directories – consider making it a quarterly event.

    I can tell you though that a dozen high quality links on related sites that have authority that don’t outbound link excessively will show you fast upward movement in the serps – its really the most effective linking strategy.

  • Miguel Gomez

    Nice writeup. I think the Directory submission is transforming before our eyes, and soon the way we all do our link building will be more personalized and connected.


  • shah

    Yes you are right building links is good its google strategy but there are less amount of high pr directories .all directories are money motive for paid submissions

  • Jesse Dictor

    My biggest problem with directories is that they take so long to show any direct results, as oppose to even just link spamming random pligg sites. If your handing your website properly to begin with, mass inbound links seem more effective, especially for older websites.

  • mwallcomm

    Yes, there are a lot of poorly designed and thought through directories out there. However, there are also a lot of good ones as well as a lot of new and emerging styles of directories. The traditional yellow page model is quickly becoming a think of the past, but I would argue directories that provide dynamic content and feedback from the users, are of significant value.

  • Julian

    I have been publishing sites since 2006, I gave up submitting to Dmoz recently as I have never had an approval. Surely in it’s current state it can’t retain it’s authority forever?

  • ApexWebDirectory


    If you want fast approval for your blogs and website, then do visit our directory and submit your site.

    Thank You

  • Scott G.

    Directory submissions have been a basic link building strategy for a number of years. Many argue their worthless, but there is certainly still some value for first-tier and/or industry relevant directories as you’ve pointed out. When combined with other viral and manufactured link building methods the value of directory submissions does increase. There’s no sense in submitting to 1,000s of directories with low or negative SEO value.

  • gbpbot

    I think it all comes down to a large amount of links from varying sources pointing at your site tells Google your site is popular. Google cannot say “because you have a link pointing to your site from XYZ site we think your site is spammy”… if that were the case you could put your competition out of business simply by building links for them.

  • synlin

    I've been submitting to DMOZ for almost 6 months and until now my links were not posted.

  • healthinsuranceindia

    I agree that it is worth wile submitting to a handful of directories – Yahoo,, JoeAnt, BOTW, STPT, etc.

  • Gillian Pearce

    Writing a short description is an interesting tip. I've always write a paragraph and try and vary it. I will test the single sentence idea though as that will save a bunch of time.

  • gillianpearce

    Writing a short description is an interesting tip. I've always written a paragraph which I try and vary it. I will test the single sentence idea though as that will save a bunch of time. As an internet marketing coach I'm always looking for great tips to pass onto my clients. And anything that can save a bit of time is especially welcome. So thanks for the idea.