“Directories are sooooo 2003.” “Remember BlueFind?” “I thought Google hated directories.”
Many people think that directories have become obsolete. The truth however is that while their SEO importance has decreased in the last few years, they should still be an integral part of link building for new sites.
Of course, you should no longer submit to directories just for PageRank. As search engines analyze user data and integrate this information into their algorithm, the traffic you receive from a link becomes paramount again. (Shouldn’t it have been this way all along? I digress…) The point is, if you can get relevant traffic from a directory listing, then it’s still a viable marketing channel. And it can still be an effective SEO method, as well (we’ll get to that).
Thus the question shouldn’t be, “Should I submit to directories?”, but rather, “Which directories should I submit to?” The answer is that you should submit to directories that either:
a) will send traffic, or
b) have listings that will be considered editorial votes of quality by major search engines.
Did you know that specifically mentions both the Yahoo Directory and The Open Directory (DMOZ) in their Webmaster Guidelines (see http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html )? This implies that Google believes links from the two mentioned directories are indeed editorial votes of quality. These “trusted links” are the type a site needs to both break out of “the sandbox”, and to rank highly in the current (hard to crack) Google.
Of course, I do recommend submitting to more than just the aforementioned two “directory kings” (Yahoo! and DMOZ). It becomes a matter of sorting through the low quality “rough” out there to find the directory “diamonds.” For starters, Best of the Web, MSN bCentral, Gimpsy, and Business.com all have editorial integrity at a level which probably ensures that search engines “trust” their links. Outside of these, there are a few others on the “top tier”, but beware of any that sell sitewide links, as that practice all but ensures that Google won’t trust the directory’s editorial integrity.
What about the rest? Submitting to lower quality directories may not propel your site to the top of Google, but my recent research suggests it is still a very efficient link building method to build rankings in both MSN and Yahoo!. I have never been one to put all my eggs in the Google basket, so I still regularly use these second tier directories to quickly (and cheaply!) get my sites to the top of these engines.
In conclusion, directory submission should still have a place in your link building strategy. If you are going for Google rankings alone, you should probably stick only to the top tier directories whose listings are considered editorial votes of quality by Google. If you are going for rankings in MSN and Yahoo!, you can cheaply build a slew of effective links by submitting your site to many of the lower quality directories. And of course, if you are trying to rank in all 3 major search engines, you should probably do both of the above. Either way, don’t write off directories just yet!