Ever since the beginning of Internet marketing, SEO practitioners have submitted site URLs to online directories for two important reasons. The whole process:
1. Helps get more targeted traffic to the website.
2. Helps build link popularity and consequently, improve page rank.
The problem is that many SEO newbies, particularly those who value quantity over quality, have taken to abusing the tactic in hopes of achieving quick gains. As a result, Google’s Penguin 2.0 update penalized a lot of websites that were deemed to have abused directory submission. This has led many SEO practitioners to believe the tactic is no longer a viable option for Search Engine Optimization campaigns.
When you think carefully about it, though, you’ll realize that there are still ways for you to benefit from directory submission. The key is in making sure you get listed only in reputable and relevant directories so as to avoid being deemed abusive. If you do it right, in fact, directory submission can give you decent web traffic and increase your search rankings.
Identifying Appropriate/Valuable Directories
As mentioned above, the best way to benefit from directory submission while protecting your website from getting penalized by Google updates at the same time is to submit only to quality directories. Here’s what you can do to determine whether an online directory is worth your time or not:
1. Do a Google Search. Naturally, online directories that rank well on Google are deemed quality sites by the search engine. Getting listed on these directories therefore reduces the chance of your website getting penalized. Be as specific as possible when you type in a query. If you’re a local business owner operating in the United States, for example, the query, “Top US local business online directory” would be much better than “US business directories.”
2. Check Competitors’ Backlinks. Find out which of your competitors rank best and then analyze the backlinks of these competitors. You have the option of analyzing just the top 5 or the top 20 competitors (or even more if you feel the need). The analysis should give you an idea as to what directories most of them submit to. It’s only logical to believe that these directories are safe and can effectively help improve your rankings.
3. Analyze Directories. Once you’ve drawn up a list of directories you could possibly submit your URLs to, you’ll need to shorten the list to include only the directories that are truly worth your time. Quality, popularity, and integrity are the three things you need to measure when you analyze each directory on your list. To gauge quality, you’d do well to check the following metrics:
– The domain age
– The PageRank of the domain and the page where your URL will be listed
– The number of links pointing to the domain and page
– The number of external links pointing from the page to other authority sites
– The URL, title, and description of the page where your URL will be listed
To gauge popularity, check the traffic rank of the directory. You could use Alexa Rank for this purpose, but it may be better to check a US directory’s Compete rank and use a tool like Quantcast for directories in other countries. To gauge integrity, check how easy it is to get listed in the directory you’re reviewing. It’s wise to stay away from directories that aren’t pre-moderated as well as those that ask for reciprocal links.
4. Find out Who’s Who. Bear in mind that most small online directories get their data from bigger, more established directories. These directories are a sort of the “mother ship” for smaller directories that are very popular in local searches. Knowing the top directories helps streamline the process of submission because you often need to get listed only on the major directories in order to share your business information across several local directories. You may have to pay to get listed, but the investment will be well worth it in the end.
5. Monitor Your Listings. You can’t stop at choosing directories and submitting your listings. You’ll have to make sure your listings are performing as expected. Some of the most important metrics to monitor for this purpose are the following:
– Monthly visits for each of your listings
– Conversion rates and sales from each listing
– Website ranking after a batch of submissions
– Local search dynamics after submitting to major directories
Note that most of the data you need to track in terms of directory submissions can be monitored using Google Analytics.
Tips for Submission
To fully benefit from directory submission, you have to make sure you do everything right. Since you’ve already chosen the right directories to submit to, take full advantage of these directories by heeding these tips:
1. Comply with Site Guidelines
You certainly don’t want to be kicked off and blacklisted by an online directory of high value, so you need to make sure you comply with the guidelines of every directory you submit listings to.
2. Deep Link Wherever Possible
Linking to an interior page can significantly improve your search rankings, but you need to make sure you aren’t violating any of the directory guidelines when you link deeply. If deep linking is specifically prohibited, then it’s best not to risk earning the ire of directory administrators.
3. Create a Special E-mail Address for Directories
Online directories typically ask for an e-mail address. To reduce the possibility of getting a lot of spam mail, it’s best to create an e-mail account specifically for directories. It will also be a lot easier for you to monitor the performance of your listings when you have a separate e-mail account from your business e-mail.
4. Choose Categories Carefully
Patience is a virtue. This is something you need to bear in mind when you submit listings to online directories. The process can become tedious after some time and when you become impatient, you could so easily become careless as well. One of the areas where people quickly lose patience is category selection. Remember that this is one of the most important parts of the process. So whether it’s your first or your fiftieth listing, you should always be patient and choose the category wisely. The category you choose can often spell the difference between success and failure.
5. Craft Titles Wisely
As a general rule, longer titles in article directories have less impact on SEO. It is therefore a good idea to keep your titles short and straightforward. You’d also do well to vary your titles and text from one directory to another because variation has been observed to significantly help with SEO. Bear in mind that search engines, particularly Google with its recent series of algorithm updates, get very suspicious when they notice the same titles and text across a number of websites.
Directory submission is indeed time-consuming and sometimes even quite frustrating. As long as you plan your strategy carefully and prepare your moves wisely, however, the results you get in terms of traffic and site authority will definitely be well worth the time and effort. Who says Google no longer recognizes the value of online directories? The key is in doing things right.