Link Building 101: The Power of Directories

by Paul Teitelman September 23rd, 2008 

Directory submissions are still one of the most powerful and safest link building strategies in existence. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find quality directories to submit too as many directories continue to get penalized by Google as I outlined in my last post, the History of Paid Directories.

As a result, the goal of this three-part series is to focus on the power of directories for SEO, and more importantly, to teach any SEO enthusiast how to find quality directories (both paid and free) going forward. Here's what you can expect from this three part series:

Post #1: As promised, this post will cover 3 major resources where you can find high quality directories.

Post #2: The second post will focus on link appraisal and analysis, and will provide a checklist of the top 7 most important criteria to look for when evaluating the power of specific directories.

Post #3: The last post will examine the 3 most important downfalls to avoid when making directory submissions and will also provide a short-list of the top directories to submit too.

search-directories.jpg

OK. Let's get down to the goods already. Below are the 3 major resources to use in order to find quality directories. I've also included some best practices and strategies that should be implemented in order to make the most out of these valuable resources.

  1. Directory Critic
  2. Digital Point Forums
  3. DMOZ

Directory Critic is an excellent resource for SEO, and focuses on providing comprehensive lists of directories that are sortable according to a variety of criteria, including PR, type of directory (paid and/or free) and also an overall points rating. There's also a myriad of advertisers and other services on the site as well for webmasters and directory owners to take advantage of. Notice how most of the banners have outdated PR!?! Thought so… (sigh)… such is the life of a directory.

The directory lists are broken down into new directories, general directories (paid, free, reciprocal, deep links and article) and niche directories. The majority of the new directories are start-ups, so it's best to spend your time focusing in on the general and niche directory lists (ones linked above already sorted by PR). These lists are massive: Directory Critic currently has 3,085 free directories and 3,912 paid directories in its database!

It's best to sort these lists by PR and start submitting from the top and work your way down. Most of these directories don't generate much traffic, and even if they did, the purpose of submitting to a directory is not for traffic, it's usually solely for SEO and to improve your rankings in the SERP's.

Therefore, focus your efforts on securing links from the high PR directories, but don't forget about some of the high quality niche directory lists. These niche lists cover the major topics (health, SEO, sports, shopping, adult, blogging, travel, etc.) as well as geographic regions (Australia, UK, Canada, US) so you should find at least a couple that apply to your niche.

Digital Point Forums is the largest webmasters forum and is an absolutely essential resource for everything related to SEO and internet marketing. Digital Point (DP) literally has sections on everything related to internet and search marketing. When it comes down to finding directories, there are two major categories where you can find a wide range of information and services related to directory submissions.

digital-point.jpg

In the directories category, there is a wide range of thread topics, with the majority focusing on:

  • Directory owners announcing their directories are open for submissions.
  • DP users offering a list of directories (usually free, but sometimes they ask for $).
  • DP users looking for help and advice on which directories to submit too.

Within this category there is also the solicitations sub-section, where you can find the majority of specific offers regarding directory owners announcing their free directories. There's also the occasional paid directory owner offering free submissions to their high PR directory for a limited time.

In the services category, you can find threads where:

  • DP Users are offering bulk manual submissions to free directories for a small fee (e.g. submit to 100 PR 5+ directories for just $10)
  • Directory owners offering directory submissions on their network of directories.

These offers are constantly popping up on the services section, but you need to keep in mind that the quality of these free directory submitters is pretty skeptical in most cases. Just because they are submitting doesn't guarantee approvals. So you need to either find someone who can guarantee a high acceptance rate, or only pay per approval. Either way, these categories provide plenty of opportunities to outsource bulk submission work and to find a lot of free, high quality directories to submit too.

DMOZ is still the king of kings when it comes to directories whether you like it or not. So you might as well accept it, and better yet, realize that you can take advantage of DMOZ using the DMOZ deep mining technique. Got to tip my hat to Debra Mastaler on this one, as once upon a time I also failed to realize the power of this directory as a resource until she showed me the way at SES Toronto just a few months back.

Using the DMOZ deep mining technique, you can find plenty of highly relevant, niche-focused directories to submit too by drilling down through specific categories, or by drilling down by region. It's best to illustrate with a couple of examples:

E.g. #1 How to find niche specific directories

  • Simply select the category which your niche falls under
  • Drill down to your specific niche (e.g. travel, gardening, dentistry, etc.)
  • Select the directories category, or occasionally the guides and directories category

E.g. #2 How to find regional business directories

  • Select the regional category
  • Select which region you want and then drill down by country and even city
  • Then select the business directories category

ontario-directories.bmp

This strategy may seem very simple, because it is! But, just because it's simple doesn't mean it's not powerful. Keep in mind that these are all DMOZ listed directories, so they must have at least some quality. Either way, it's one of the fastest ways to find highly specific niche directories by both category and region.

By utilizing these strategies in unison, you can really cover a wide range of both general and niche specific directories. Whether you focus on the paid or free directories really depends on your time and budget. But before you run off and start submitting your site to every directory you can find, you need to be able to evaluate the power of specific directories. Only then will you know whether it's worth the money, or in some cases time, to submit to these directories. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, which will focus on link appraisal and is going to feature a checklist of the top 7 most important criteria to look for when evaluating the power of specific directories. Should be a good one!

Paul Teitelman

I'm a SEO Manager here at SEP and am responsible for overseeing the organic ranking of clients for their major keywords. When I'm not in front of computers my main passions are drumming, hockey and hanging out up north at my cottage in Muskoka.

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23 Responses to “Link Building 101: The Power of Directories”

  1. Utah SEO says:

    I didn't know about Directory Critic. That's a good idea to create a site about that. Thanks for the tip.

  2. onewayseo says:

    i wonder if directories will still be relevant if the changes i hear about come into place. apparentley google wont be placing such emphasis on links in future – guess we'll see!

  3. If Google ever moves away from link importance, the entire webmaster community will revolt because it will mean everything they've done so far doesn't mean anything!

  4. kouji says:

    that dmoz tip seems interesting. never thought to go there to look for directories. will consider this, and will also look out for the next part of this series.

  5. I looked at some of the directories you mentioned and was curious to know if this is somewhat of a losing proposition? I mean as Google finds out and bans them – do all those listed then get black marks? I'm a bit uncomfortable with these directories except for DMOZ of course. They've been around for ever and actually provide a resource for visitors.

  6. My favorite place to submitting my site to directories is in the Digital point's solicitations sub-section. I also sending Private message to directory for sure approval of my submission.

  7. MichaelD says:

    This was even better than your last directory related post. I've actively been working on a niche directory to serve my industry (free) and it's been interesting to see who discovers the url before we've talked much about it.

    I wasn't expecting it but your post gave me some ideas as to where to submit the directory to after we launch. Directories need links too. :)

  8. Paul Teitelman says:

    @Utah… thanks Jordan, hope you get some good results from the tip (awesome post by the way)

    @onewayseo/businesscard… Google is always changing their algorithms, but it would be very surprising if they stop focusing on the power of links. But, like you said, we'll just have to wait and see!

    @kouji… enjoy it's a great resource!

    @Shailesh… It's definitely not a losing cause, but you do need to focus on high quality directories. When the directory gets penalized the outbound links are discounted, so your links won't get penalized, they will just lose any value they once had.

    @Dilson… You got it my friend… that sub-section is one of the BEST resources for directory submissions no question about it!

    @MichaelD… Thanks Michael really appreciate it, the second part of this series will be a dandy so stay tuned.

  9. Ted says:

    It's surprising that you actually recommended Digital Point forum as one of the "major resources to use in order to find quality directories."

    Have you actually looked at what kind of junks are being promoted in there?

    Your post could be credible if you cited sources like:

    http://info.vilesilencer.com/
    http://www.seocompany.ca/directories/top-web-directories.html
    http://www.avivadirectory.com/strongest-directories/

  10. I always use directories to promote my blogs. But there are some rumors Google won't be paying much attention to links that are not withing posts. So all those directory links may lose their power. I guess the same will be with footer links too.

  11. VMOptions says:

    Paul, I'm sad my free directory list did not make the cut. :(

    http://www.vmoptions.com/directory-list.php

    Good post though and covers the major sources of directories. And for those that are asking, do directories still help for SEO yes they do!

  12. Paul Teitelman says:

    @Ted… Digital Point IS one of the best resources, but you need to know what you're looking for, which I was going to cover in my next post.

    As with everything in life, there are good deals and there are bad deals, I do agree that 70%-80% of the deals on DP are a complete waste of money (and some will do more harm than good), but there's still amazing value in the deals that are legit. You just need to know what to look for.

    Thanks for the resources, but notice how that Aviva resource you mentioned also categorized the most powerful directories according to PR? Even though PR isn't the only way to judge a directory, it's quick and easy; hence people can understand it. If I started talking about indexability, cache dates, # of links, relevancy etc. I wouldn't hit my target audience for this post. The next post will focus on those issues.

    @chucknorrisdude… Yeah the rumours are starting to fly 'round, but until Google comes out and says it's a bad linking strategy, I'd continue with making quality directory submissions.

    @VMoptions… EXCELLENT list thanks for referencing it! And YES you're right; directories DO still work!

  13. Paid Surveys says:

    Recently its been widely debated the efficiency of directories for SEO purposes. Like you already said DMOZ is essential, but $300 for Yahoo directory (per year) do you really think its worth it?
    I also do a lot of free directory submissions and do wonder if they really have an impact on my rankings.
    Personally I think there are only a few directories worth while, and paid directories are just too overpriced, but then again I'm not #1 in google for my search term so what do I know!
    How many directory submissions do you think you should do to maintain a sites popularity?

  14. Ted says:

    "Aviva resource you mentioned also categorized the most powerful directories according to PR?"
    Not really. There are PR0 directories that are ranked high in the list.

    "Even though PR isn’t the only way to judge a directory, it’s quick and easy; hence people can understand it. If I started talking about indexability, cache dates, # of links, relevancy etc. I wouldn’t hit my target audience for this post."
    So I take it as the target audience of this post is SEO newbies. Then there's MORE reason to let them stay away from DP where 99% is junk and/or scam. Rather, point them to an editorially cleaned up list of directories, such as vilesilencer's list.

    Anyway, no hard feeling on your posts.
    Just wanted to point out that when one write a tutorial type post, they should do enough research from target audience's point of view to let them make the most of it.

  15. Paul Teitelman says:

    "Just wanted to point out that when one write a tutorial type post, they should do enough research from target audience’s point of view to let them make the most of it."

    It's a three part series Ted. I guess you never made it to the end of the post where I said:

    But before you run off and start submitting your site to every directory you can find, you need to be able to evaluate the power of specific directories….

    Stay tuned for part 2 of this series..

    The goal of this series was that by the END of all three posts, SEO beginners would fully understand
    a) the power of directories for link building
    b) what to look out for when submitting
    c) general downfalls to avoid and how to make the best use of resources mentioned in 1st post

    So, sorry that you were disappointed after the first post, I guess you're just anxious for the next post in the series :)

  16. [...] previously mentioned in part 1 of this series, it's extremely important to be able to evaluate the power of a directory for [...]

  17. [...] Search Engine People has written a couple of recent posts about what to look for in directories. Link Building 101: The Power of Directories Link Building 101: How to Evaluate the Power of Directories Both posts have good advice and are [...]

  18. PS3 says:

    So do you actually value directory submissions as I have read they aren't actually valued that much by Google?

    John

  19. Digitalpoint is a great forum. I have submitted 10 sites to Dmoz over the past few months and not one of them has got in yet :(

  20. [...] power of directories for link building. So far, we've examined why they are so powerful in part 1 and then we looked at how to evaluate their potential power in part 2. This post will wrap-up the [...]

  21. [...] power of directories for link building. So far, we've examined why they are so powerful in part 1 and then we looked at how to evaluate their potential power in part 2. This post will wrap-up the [...]

  22. Have to beware of bulk submission to directories services which is widely available at DP forum. Instead of spending the money on bulk submission, i will recommend submission to the ones with authority.
    Rif Chia