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April 3, 2006

All Directories Are Not Created Equal

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Properly listing your site in a trusted directory will allow the search engines to better categorize your site and help you receive more targeted traffic. Or at least that’s what Best Of The Web’s Greg Hartnett said in a recent interview with Shimon Sandler. And he would know. After all, BOTW is the Internet’s oldest web directory. In the interview, Hartnett discusses the benefits of directory links, what to look for when selecting a directory, submission fees and lots more useful tidbits.

Directories categorize your site the way your human visitors would view it – judging them based on title, content and editorial reviews. Adding your site to a directory can help improve its ranking in two ways. First, through proper categorization you can expect more targeted traffic coming through your site. Secondly, search engines view sites listed in the directories has being more authoritative than those not listed. Of course, not just any directory. Some directories are considered more authoritative than others and the authority of directories in general has been declining. DMOZ which used to be the Big Kahuna isn’t so much anymore thanks to poor response from their editors and slowness of updates. It can take years to get into DMOZ and you can be bounced out again for no reason at all. Yahoo Directory remains a pretty good authority but mostly considered so by Yahoo alone. However, if nothing else, directories are one one-way link to your website and that’s an important thing.

Many users are also beginning to familiarize themselves with directories and expect respected sites to be there. If you’re not there, customers will wonder why. Furthermore, the search results from a directory are limited only to the sites listed in the directory. Without adding your site, you have no way of showing up in users’ directory searches.

To Hartnett, the most trustworthy directories are Yahoo and DMOZ — set apart by their commitment to quality — followed by Business.com and Microsoft’s bCentral. He cautions users about using directories that include:

  • Poor quality links
  • JavaScript links to sites
  • Overuse of keywords in titles and descriptions
  • Directories less than a year old
  • Directories with overpopulated top level categories
  • Directories powered by an off-the-shelf script

These ‘directories’ may actually be Link Farms in disguise. A Link Farm is a collection of unrelated links designed to manipulate the search engines. They have no positive benefit and associating with them may damage your site’s reputation. Respected directories will only accept sites that are designed well, are easy to navigate and have a substantial amount of unique content. Sites that have poor content are usually rejected, says Hartnett.

Hartnett goes on to give more information about expectations regarding click-through traffic, PageRank, the challenges of directories and the history of BOTW. The complete interview can be found on Shandler’s site.





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