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Directory Submission

A web directory is a database of categorized information. Online directories, such as those used for website marketing purposes, allow website owners to obtain a link to your website, placed alongside some basic information about your website, within their category listings. These directory listings, which are similar to business listings in a phone book's yellow pages, sometimes require a fee for inclusion whereas others do not cost anything other than the time for submission or the help of a search engine marketing specialist.

Directory submission is the process of submitting a web site link to a web directory. As opposed to major search engines such as Google and Yahoo!, which use algorithms and software programs to search and index submitted sites, most web directories are human-indexed search engines. In essence, actual humans will review the submitted site, approve it, and then include it in the directory.


There are several advantages to directory submission. Listing a web site on a directory increases its chances for discovery. This occurs in two ways: first, by the placement of the site link on the directory itself, and second, by the cross referencing of the submitted link on a major search engine like Google. Directory submission also increases the number of one-way inbound links (backlinks) for a web site. Search engines like Google calculate a higher ranking for web sites containing quality backlinks. Better ranking, in turn, results in the web sites being displayed more prominently on the search engine results page (SERP).
Finally, directory submission extends a web site's target audience reach. Most directories concentrate on specific topics, with the total number of categories being fewer and more focused on particular niches. Audiences of such directories are looking for sites related to these particular subjects. Thus, a web site that is located on such directories is more likely to be viewed by its intended audience.


There are several strategies for performing effective directory submission. The keywords and phrases that are associated and submitted with the web site should match user search query results as much as possible. If the site is to rank well not only for its home page but for the web site as a whole, then internal links should be submitted as well.

The site should be submitted to quality directories whose contents are easily located via a query on a major search engine like Yahoo! or Google. Likewise, these directories should list only related links and content alongside the search results. Finally, in order to have the increased number of backlinks appear as organic as possible, it is best to time web site submissions to just a few per week, to use different site descriptions, and to mix and match site titles and descriptions. In this way, major search engines will not "sandbox" the submitted site, resulting in it being ranked very low on the SERP. Sandboxing often occurs when a site accumulates a large number of inbound links in a very short period of time, alerting search engines that the site may be involved in "black-hat" SEO techniques.

Submission types

There are several types of web directories. Free directories (e.g., Dmegs.com, Dmoz.org) will list a web site at no cost, but may also be limited in the number of submission categories. Many free directories do not offer deep link submission, while others may include non-relevant sites.

Paid inclusion sites (e.g., Altavista, AskJeeves) list pages from a web site in exchange for a payment (e.g., one-time fee, annual subscription). There is no guarantee that the pages will rank well, only that they will be included in the index. Page rank itself depends on the search engine's own relevancy algorithms rating the submitted content. A web site may also be listed on a CPC (cost-per-click) basis, through a directory such as LookSmart. In such a case, the web site is not assessed a listing fee; it is charged only when a user clicks on the submitted link. Alternately, for large database-driven or auction-style web sites, there is XML paid inclusion. With this type of paid inclusion, the web site is also charged on a CPC basis; however, longer queries are more effectively matched to relevant web pages.

Although there is a fee charged for paid inclusion directories (e.g., $299/year for Yahoo Directory and Business.com), there are a number of advantages associated with using them. Most paid inclusion directories carry a greater measure of trust from web users, and thus are more likely to be used. Paid inclusion directories typically include a greater number of topic categories and larger target audiences for each niche site. This increases the likelihood of a web site submission generating traffic. There are also more features offered in paid directories, such as deep link submission, CPC payment, and longer search queries.

Belonging to a well known paid inclusion directory such as Yahoo! Directory or Business.com may result in a higher web site ranking from major search engines like Google. This is because search engines may award points for a site who did not hesitate to invest a high premium price to be a member of a well known directory. In other words, although a membership to the Yahoo! directory does not have a direct impact on how relevant a site is ranked for a particular keyword, it could become a tiebreaker between two competitors web sites that both rank highly for that keyword, if only one of them is a member of that prestigious directory.

Yellow pages

Internet Yellow Pages directories are very much akin to their printed versions, providing business listings alongside advertising. The main advantage of posting a web site to the Yellow Pages is that the listing can be targeted to a local audience. Also, major search engines such as Google and Yahoo! often list Yellow Pages links in the SERP.

As with other directories, there are free and paid inclusion options when listing a web site with the Yellow Pages. Free listings are organized alphabetically below the paid listings in a given category. By using paid inclusion (or buying an ad), one's web site obtains a top position on the Internet Yellow Pages SERP. In either case, the web site's profile page will include basic fields such as the company's contact information, business description, products and services offered, and accepted forms of payment.

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