Web-based directories serve a similar purpose to conventional paper directories. They offer a listing for your business, in order to attract customers who can browse by industry. Similarly, there is usually a choice of a basic or enhanced listing. Whether directory listings give you an advantage in search engines is open to debate.
Given the nature of the web, it pays to be careful when choosing which directory to submit your site to. There are so many online directories: some will be very relevant for you; others will be a total waste of time. This article aims to provide a few pointers in order to help you make the right decision.
Directories have been an important part of the internet since the early days of the World Wide Web. Some insist on an insertion fee, although many offer a free basic listing. Many directories will include various categories of business; some will specialise in particular industries, products or services. There may also be regional and local variants.
There has always been much debate by online marketers as to whether directory sites have any value in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Some will offer an inbound link when you include your web address. They can insist on a reciprocal link although some make that optional. It is generally agreed that search engines will count a link from most human-edited directories but few from automated directories.
Human-edited directories, such as Open Directory Project, Salehoo and World Wide Web Virtual Library, can take months to approve sites for listing. Automated submissions are generally instant.
It can be more than a little daunting when deciding which directories to submit your site to, given the sheer numbers available. It is probably a good idea, initially, to go for names that you are familiar with, such as Yell, who generally offer free listings. Alternatively, you can pay for an enhanced listing or advertisement.
The oldest and most highly established online directory is BOTW (Best of the Web), which offers a choice of a one-time only charge, which is better value for money, or a recurring annual fee. BTOW also offers a local listing that can be added to your regular fee.
DMOZ (The Open Directory Project) is free and it is the largest directory in the world. Don’t expect immediate listing though because DMOZ can take several months to list your business.
Other major players include search giants Yahoo, Google, Bing and Ask.
There are also industry-specific directories that may give you a higher return on your investment. These are more likely to attract prospective buyers for your products or services. The UK Small Business Directory is one of the most powerful directories in the United Kingdom. It gives you two strong backlinks to your website and is used by thousands of people in the UK to find businesses. So if you are in the UK or you have potential customers there, it pays to get listed. An enhanced listing will also give you an advantage over your rivals when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation.
There are many more directories that may help you with your online marketing strategy. Beware, though, there are potential pitfalls. Some directories will act as no more than link farms, which will bring you no significant relevant traffic. You may also find your site delisted from the major Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).
As with any other aspect of your business, it pays to do your homework. There are many reputable web designers and search marketers who are more than happy to give advice in their web sites and on forums.
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I am a professional .NET and PHP software developer. I has been designing and developing websites professionally since 1994. Currently working as SEO consultant at UK SEO Company.