Directory submission for SEO purposes is one of the most hotly debated topics in the world of SEO. It is probably the oldest form of link building known to SEOs. SEOs and webmasters have used and misused directories for ages.
There are varying opinions within the SEO community with regards to the effectiveness of earning links from web directories. Many believe that using directories for link building is an outdated practice. Some are also of the opinion that it can harm your website in the long run because of the Google crackdown on paid web directories.
So what exactly is the truth? Does directory submission help in improving your website’s search engine rankings? Or on the contrary, do they harm your websites?
The truth is somewhere in between. It really depends on the way you use directories to build links to your website. So what exactly is the correct way of doing directory submission?
To understand web directories better, we need to know a little about their history. The origin of web directories goes back to the early nineties when the internet was only in its initial stages. During this period, the number of webpages on the internet started to increase. So there was a need to organize and categorize these web pages.
This gave rise to the very first web directories. Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the HTML and the internet, started the first web directory in the world. It was called the World Wide Web Virtual Library. Soon after other directories were launched. Some of the very early directories were, The Mozilla Directory (DMOZ), Yahoo directory and Starting point directory.
These directories played an important role in organizing the data available on the World Wide Web before the launch of the first search engines. All of these directories had human editors monitoring their content. Human editors were adding and editing links in these directories . Hence none of these web directories gave out spammy links. Due to this reason a link from any of these websites was considered to be of real SEO value.
However with the launch of search engines and the huge growth of the internet, some of these web directories slowly lost its importance. Gradually more and more directories started cropping up. The only intention of these sites was out links to external websites in exchange for money. This started a trend of low quality directories. Soon these directories started becoming a target of abuse for webmasters. They could easily get links from these directories in exchange of money. This is the reason why directory submission has a negative reputation among SEOs now. Google also started de-indexing these low quality directories.
So now we have seen the good and bad of directories. Hence it Is important to do directory submission in the right way.
Let’s see how..
The first myth among SEOs and webmasters is that directory submissions can be harmful to your website. There is a common belief that Google and other search engines do not like to see links from directory sites pointing to your website. Many webmasters also believe that Google can penalize your website for building links from directories. This is far from the truth.
Google will not penalize any website for incoming links from web directories even if they are in huge numbers. There are two main reasons.
Hence Google is not likely to penalize websites for obtaining back links from web directories.
Google has this to say about directory submission on its webmaster guidelines.
“Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites”
This point has been subsequently removed from Google webmaster guidelines. However it is safe to assume that Google does not consider links from good directories to be bad for your website.
In the below video, Matt Cutts from Google gives a very clear differentiation between high quality directories and low quality directories. According to him, a link from a human edited directory which adds value to the internet can be considered as a good link.
So in short, back links from directories are not going to harm your website in any way.
Submitting your website links to quality directories can be very beneficial for your website if done in the right way. Given below are some of the benefits of directory submissions.
Search engines like Google regularly crawl good directories like, DMOZ and BOTW on a regular basis. This means that there is a higher chance that search engines can find and crawl your links.
Co-citation can be defined as the frequency with which two website links are cited together on other websites. This may be an important factor in SEO .There is still some debate among seo professionals whether this is an important part of the search engine algorithm. Human edited directories ensure that only good websites are allowed to be submitted to their database in the proper category. Categorization of sites by topic means that there is a chance of 2 or more good quality websites being linked to from the same category page of a good quality web directory.
Some of the directories allow deep linking to your internal pages. This can be very beneficial from an indexing point of view. It will also ensure that the link juice flows into your internal pages also rather than your homepage only. From an SEO perspective, it is important that there are links pointing to internal pages and not only your home page.
There are some directories which allow anchor text to be used for the links back to your websites. This can be helpful to ensure that there are keyword rich anchor texts pointing to your Web Pages from these high authority directories. Ensure that this feature is not misused because anchor text abuse can lead to a Google penalty. Make sure that you are varying your anchor texts and using a good mix of your brand name, your website name as well as some keywords and their variations.
If you take a look at the SERP results for some queries, you can see that many high quality web directories themselves rank in the SERPs for competitive keywords. Which means they are getting target natural traffic from search engines. If you submit your links to these types of directories, you are sure to get targeted direct traffic.
For example, have a look at this search result for the term “plumbers in Los Angeles”
As you can see from the above screenshot, The website, Yelp.com is ranked number 1 and 2 for this query.
You can also see that Yellowpages.com is also among the top ranking sites.
These directories can provide good targeted traffic to your site. They are also beneficial for your websites local SEO.
Now that we have seen how good quality directories can help in improving the SEO of your website, it is time to learn how to hunt for quality directories to submit your website.
Remember, you need to submit to high quality, relevant web directories to get maximum benefit. You should try to submit your website to a few quality directories than focus on quantity. The question is how to hunt for such directories. Here is how you do it.
This is easy. Choose your keyword, search them on Google and other search engines and see how many directory sites are ranking on the SERPs. For keywords with a good enough volume, you can search the first 3 pages of the SERPs. If there are directory websites already ranking for your keywords, then you definitely need to get your website on those directories. This is highly effective for local keywords as there are usually many directory sites ranking high on SERPs for local keywords.
Some of the best known directories on the internet which are human edited are worth submitting your website to because these sites have stood the test of time and have good reputation and authority. Some of them are paid directories but it is well worth paying the money to these few sites than wasting money on links from low quality websites. Some of the best directories are mentioned below.
Edit – (As of March 17, DMOZ has been officially closed down)
DMOZ also called Mozilla directory or the ODP (Open Directory Project) is the largest free active internet directory. This website is free to submit to and is human edited. The only problem with DMOZ is their long waiting period. It may take 3 to 6 months to get your website included because they have millions of websites in queue. The reason for this long wait is that there are actual human editors moderating these links. It is easy to submit to and is well worth the trouble if you are looking for long term results.
This is another paid directory with a good reputation and authority. Currently having an Alexa rank of just less than 23,000, it is a good directory to submit to if it fits your budget.
BOTW – Best of the web directory
It is one of the oldest web directories around and has been in existence from 1998. They have a team of qualified editors who check each and every submission and place them in the right category. It is one of the best directories to submit your website to.
Alive directory is another paid directory which has very high reputation. It still has a good alexa rank of below 40,000 and has more than 1 million back links pointing to it.
Stpt.com or starting point directory is one of the oldest directories around having been in existence since 1995. This is also a human edited directory and a link from this reputed website can be very beneficial for your website.
These are the most important websites that you should try to submit your link to if your budget permits. Apart from these, you can also submit your links to the list of 100 directories given below. All 100 websites given below are high quality sites which have a Domain Authority of 35 and above. Some of them are paid and some are free.
Given below are the sites sorted by PA,DA and Moz rank. We have analysed all these websites and they are safe to use. Submitting to your links to these select list of directories should be good enough.
Remember, quality is the key. Not quantity.
Apart from these top directories, there are thousands of websites where you can submit your links. You can find a list of such directories in many blogs. At the end of this post, we have included a list of 1000 such sites in excel format which you can download .The key is to search them and find the ones which are worth submitting to. Maybe you could use some of these sites as backlinks to your second tier sites.
How can you determine the quality of a directory ?
Read on to know how to analyse a directory to know if they are worth submitting to.
This is important. If you come across a list of directories, don’t just start submitting to each and every one of them. There are many blogs which provide you with a list of 100 or 500 or even 5000 directories to submit to. Submitting to all of them can be a total waste of time. You need to find out which ones are good enough for you to spend time or money on it. You can use third party metrics like Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA) etc. for this.
Also it needs to be noted that Google and other search engines have either banned or penalized some of these directories. So we need to do a proper analysis on each and every site.
Following are the steps to find the quality of a web directory.
This can be done by doing a domain search on google.
For example, take the website – nuoret.org
Do a domain search on Google using the query site: nuoret.org
As you can see, the search returns no results. Also you can search the brand name of the directory on Google. Use queries like “nuoret.org”,”Nuoret”,”Nuoret directory” etc.
Again, it shows no results related to the website. This clearly shows that the site has been penalized/banned and it may be de-indexed. Stay away from such sites.
Websites with a DA of above 35-40 can be considered as a good site.
You can use the Seoreviewtools tool to check PA and DA. As shown in the image below, you only need to enter the web address on the tool to get PA,DA and Moz rank information. You can check up to 10 websites at a time.
There are many directories which were initially not web directories. When sites which have high PA,DA and other metrics expire, webmasters buy these sites and convert them to web directories. These sites are then advertised as web directories with high page metrics and then used to submit links in exchange of money.
It is basically a money making scheme and many SEOs and webmasters regularly used it.
For example, take a look at the website – Etaaps.org.
If you check the domain metrics of this website you can see that the website has a DA of 34 and a PA of 44.
On their website, they have displayed their Alexa rank as 57,519 and page rank as 8.
These look like really good metrics when you look at it.
However, once you analyse this website using the Wayback machine, you will find that this website was not initially a web directory.
The very first archive of this website in 1996 shows this website as a US government bureau of the public debt website. See screenshot below.
Later this website was functioning as a treasury website until December 2015. It was only in 2016, this website started functioning as a web directory.
From the above example, it is very clear that this site has been bought by someone with the intention of selling links. In this case, charging money in exchange of a link on the directory. The impressive metrics advertised on the website may not do much good to your website.
Though technically it may still pass on some link juice to your site, it is better to stay away from these websites.
Given below is a list of more than 1000 directories in excel format that you can download.
Click the below link to download.