What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of web directories? The answer to that question will be determined by your association, of course, but many people consider web directories to be something that they can use to build high quality backlinks for their website. People who would never turn to a web directory if they were looking for something online sometimes believe that Internet directories exist only to host their website link in a relevant category. In other words, a fee is paid to list the site, the site is listed, and a back-link is obtained. End of story.
However, besides what should be an obvious fact, that a well developed Internet directory can serve to direct someone to online resources, there is yet another significant function of Internet directories. They can be an excellent source of link partners. Through link partnerships, you can exchange your link with other relevant websites in order to gain traffic from people who are interested in your topic. This will also help your site’s positioning in the search engine results pages.
Here are some tips on finding link partners in Internet directories.
Large General Web Directories
The first step that you need to take is to browse some popular directories, such as DMOZ, BOTW, and Aviva Directory, and take a look at the category in which your website is listed, or where it likely would be listed if you had submitted it to that directory.
For instance, if your site topic is evolutionary psychology, you might visit the Evolutionary Psychology category on DMOZ, where you will find 354 sites that should relate to your topic in some manner, some directly within this category, with others in more specific subtopics. These sites are potential link partners.
Smaller Niche Directories
You may also want to take a look at specialized directories that relate to your website’s topic. If you don’t know of any niche directory related to your website, you can do a search on Google by typing “your topic” + “directory” and, if there is one, you should be able to find it.
Using the same example, a search on “evolutionary psychology” + “directory” gives me one good result on the first page, that of the Directory of Science, which also has a category for Evolutionary Psychology. The sites listed in these categories are potential link partners.
If your site is about freeware, you will find that most general directories have a category by that name, and there are several niche directories devoted to freeware, although some of them aren’t particularly good.
Nevertheless, even if you decide not to submit your own site to the directory, the other sites listed in these categories can be tapped for link partners.
The Myth About Link Exchanges
There is a myth floating around about link exchanges that tends to discourage several webmasters from exchanging links with one other, and that is the belief that Google will penalize sites that take part in link exchanges. This is untrue, in most cases.
This is only true when the link exchange is part of an SEO scam. Otherwise, honest link exchanges are still valuable as far as search engine optimization is concerned. If there is any danger, it occurs only if you are exchanging your links with low quality websites, with ones that are not relevant to the topic of your own site, or which are engaged in an SEO scam.
Be careful of link exchange services, or link exchange sites, because these are the scams that Google is looking for. Two webmasters linking to one another is not a problem, particularly when their topics are complementary.
Some people have been led to believe that Internet directories are dangerous places. Yes, some directories are junk, and others may be scams, but there are many reputable Internet directories that can offer a great deal.
Sure, if you submit your site link primarily to junk web directories, of course your site is likely to be viewed poorly by the search engines. But this is true regardless of the type of site that you are hoping to have your site linked from. Links are valuable when they are from relevant pages.
Link exchanges are less useful if the large majority of your links are from link exchange partners. Link exchanges produce two-way links, and the search engines tend to favor one-way links over two-way links, but recent Google updates have indicated a preference for a natural mix of link types.
They are looking for a mixture of one-way links, two-way links, and other types of links, that will result in a pattern known as natural linking. This is the type of linking campaign that may boost your site’s positioning the SERPs without endangering its relationship with the search engines.
Two-way links from link partners can be a part of this, since what could be more natural than two sites on similar topics linking one to the other?
Always consider the relevancy of your links when you engage in link building, since this has a significant importance for the search engine.
Finding a Link Partner
Now that you have located a cache of websites whose topics closely relate to your own, you will need to determine which of these sites might be good link partners for you. You may want to consider the use of an SEO metric tool, but I don’t believe that is absolutely necessary here.
Simply look through the sites listed in the categories that you have chosen, and ask yourself which of these sites would add value to your site, in terms of whether a link would enhance your site visitor’s experience or simply move them away from your site unnecessarily.
Assuming that you have built a valuable site, then you have offered your readers with specific information. Would there be value in referring them to another site for additional information? Don’t be overly afraid about losing a reader because if anyone who is left looking for additional information is going to look elsewhere anyhow.
As with everything else that you do with your website, as long as your link partners are intended to enhance the experience that your site visitors have, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Requesting a Link Exchange
Once you’ve found a site that you would like to add as a link partner, you should add a link to that site first, even before contacting the webmaster. Once you have done that, contact the webmaster to let him know that you have added a link to the site. Let them decide whether they are going to link back to you. In many cases, this will elicit a response and it is during this response that such a request might be made.
That part of it is a dance, I’m afraid, and I don’t know that I can teach you to dance here.
Be tactful. Do not send multiple messages for the same webmaster, or threaten to remove the link that you have placed unless they include a link to your site. Don’t attempt to force another webmaster to do as you wish, but let them do as they wish.
If you don’t hear from the other webmaster or if he does not decide to add a link to your site, you may remove the link to their site at a later update. The key is that they know that, so there is no need for you to make threats.
The point that I would like to make here is that a web directory is an excellent source of potential link partners, but don’t forget that they are also a source of one-way links for your site. Directories themselves do not make good link partners, however. When a web directory requires a reciprocal link, you won’t be getting the advantage in that deal.
Avoid searching for link partners in directories that accept automatic submissions because their content tends to consist mostly of spam and other low quality sites that you don’t want to have anything to do with.
If you have chosen a directory that includes good, relevant topic related to your site’s content, this may be a directory that you want to turn to for a one-way link, as well. Don’t forget. You need a good mix.