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Choosing The Right Category

Before submitting your website to a web directory, you have to determine the category that you are going to submit your site to. Of course, since there will be hundreds of categories and subcategories in most web directories, some of which may reject your submission if it is made to the wrong category, knowing how to choose the most appropriate category is an important consideration.

Understanding the Directory Structure

Some directories are very much alike, but others have different organizational structures. Even when they are in the same niche, some web directories will organize their content in different ways. Therefore, you should attempt to understand the structure of the directory that you intend to use, or to submit your site to, especially if it is a top-quality directory. This is the best way to use the directory properly. Thus, you shouldn’t just pick a directory and go straight to the site submission page. First, look around the directory, paying attention to its organizational structure, or taxonomy.

This simple exercise will give you some benefits. First, you will be able to determine whether that particular directory is the right directory for your website. Look at the sites that are already listed, and you canDirectory Structure see what your listing will look like, and you will be able to determine how titles and descriptions are handled. Most directories allow certain word lengths in the description, while other directories may require or not allow the use of full sentences in the description. Don’t rely entirely on other listed sites, however; read the directory’s submission guidelines.

Now, once you’ve surveyed the directory, see if you can locate the category that is most relevant to the topic of your website. One way that you can do that is to look for the listings of other websites in your niche, such as your competitors. Once you have found a category that holds sites similar to your own, you have found a category into which your site is likely to be accepted. In a well organized directory, this will be the most relevant category.

Take a look at any subcategories of this category, however. Your listing will be the most effective when it is placed in the most relevant category possible so if there is a subcategory that is more specific to your site’s content, that will be the best category.

Some directories allow sites to be listed in more than one category. Although this often comes at a higher price, when there is more than one category that is relevant to your site’s topic, the extra cost might be worth it. Again, check the submission guidelines.

Google places more value on links that are relevant to the topic of your site so even if a directory might allow placement in a more general category, if you are allowed only one listing, the most relevant category is the best choice.

If, however, the particular directory is one that does not receive much traffic, but you want a link from that directory anyhow, that is perhaps the only time that a more general category might be a reasonable choice.

Although I have done it myself, I do not recommend this. If a directory does not receive human traffic, it is not actually a directory, so the better choice would be to find another, more popular directory. Your objective is to gain the most value from your backlink, and that will be from a directory that is visited by web visitors regularly, and which is more likely to send targeted traffic to your site.

Choosing Between Regional and Topical Categories

The taxonomy, or category structure of some directories are based, not merely on topics, but geographically as well. These geographical categories might be known as “Regional,” “Local & Global,” “By Region,” or by some other name. For the same of discussion here, I will refer to these categories as regional.

When you come across a directory that includes a regional category tree, you may need to determine whether the best placement for your site is in regional or in one of its topical categories.

Some directories will allow both a regional and a topical placement and, even if this requires an additional cost, it may be your best choice, particularly if this can give you a link on two relevant pages. Check the directory’s submission guidelines.

However, if the directory will only allow submission to only one category, then you will have to determine the best placement for your website.

For example, if the topic of your site revolves around the history of a specific city, it might be better for you to put your website in the regional category pertaining to that city rather than in a more general a topical history category. Since the regional trees of some directories are undeveloped, as compared to their topical categories, the directory may not have a category specific to your city. In that case, a topical history category might be the better choice.

Another thing you consider is whether you are trying to attract local visitors to your website or global visitors. If you are running a brick-and-mortar store in your town, and you want to create a website in order to attract local visitors to your store, then it would be more beneficial for you to put your website in regional category rather than a topical one. But, if you are selling products online in a specific niche, then it would be more fitting if you put your website in topical category.

Because regional categories tend to be sparse, as compared to topical ones, some good directories offer free or discounted submissions to its regional categories, and the chances of your site being accepted to a regional category are greater.

However, when you decide to put your website in a regional category, it is best for you to mention your website niche within the site description that you submit because visitors to that category are less likely be able to determine the topic of your site from the category that it is listed in. When submitting to a topical category, and you have a storefront or geographical location, you should mention that in the description of your website listing in order to let people know where they can reach you. Don’t include your address, but do include the city and the state, unless the directory’s submission guidelines specifically prohibit it.

Keep in mind, however, that reputable directories are managed by human beings, and the editors reviewing your submission may move the site to a category that they consider more appropriate, and they may change the title or the description that you submitted. While some directories may reject submissions made to inappropriate categories, most will simply move the site to a better category. It is fair to say, though, that sites that are submitted to appropriate categories are more likely to be accepted, or to be added to the directory more quickly, than those that are not, so choosing the right category will increase your chances of success.

For a similar discussion by the same author, see “Choosing a Category.”

Ken Anderson was an early meta editor for the Open Directory Project (DMOZ), as well as an editor with the Go.com and Zeal directories, and several other web directories, both short- and long-term.

'Choosing The Right Category' have 8 comments

  1. February 7, 2015 @ 3:13 am Craig Frederickson

    Despite the fact that Google isn’t updating its public page rank any longer, and despite the fact that they have made it quite clear that relevancy matters a great deal, idiots are still looking for links in upper-level categories and pages with high page rank. Idiots.


    • February 7, 2015 @ 4:35 am WDD-Admin

      Those are the people who get their SEO advice from clueless parrots on SEO forums.


  2. March 26, 2015 @ 12:47 pm TimBillings

    I’ll be honest… I think most of my advice has come from clueless parrots. I am pretty new to the game of directories, in general, and what you said makes a lot of sense. Thanks. It sounds like there are no hard and fast rules with directory placement, but it seems like putting the site in the least populated directory would definitely be advantageous (as long as it fits with your niche). Is that a fair statement?


    • March 26, 2015 @ 4:21 pm WDD-Admin

      In every case, the least populated directory will be one that has so little content that it is useless as a directory, and thus in danger of Google deciding that it exists only to sell back-links, which could render it potentially harmful. When there are too few listings in a category, real people are unlikely to find their way there, so the likelihood of targeted traffic goes down. There are a lot of directories on the Internet that are little more than directory scripts selling placement, in which no one has taken the time to make useful.

      In a niche directory, much of their value comes from the fact that they can be a comprehensive resource for those researching the topic, so there is an expectation of having several options to choose from within a category. It is not unusual to find a general directory with only two or three links in a category, but niche directories usually have more.

      On the other hand, you are right in that there may be SEO advantages to having your link on a page with only a few other relevant links than on one that has hundreds. Perhaps a balance is what you might be looking for — enough links to be useful as a directory but not so many as to weaken the value of your own link.

      Best, in my opinion, would be a website that offers actual information about the category, as well as a few of the best sites on the subject.


      • August 19, 2015 @ 4:53 pm Buay

        I’m very interested in what you have said because I have come to the same conclusion. However how does this really work? I’ve read your article, but I’m still unclear as to how to do it. How many links would be consider useful and when will it be too many?


  3. April 13, 2015 @ 1:26 am Couper

    This is definitely one of the areas I needed help in with respect to web directory submissions. Thanks for pointing out the importance of drilling down into categories and sub-categories.


    • April 13, 2015 @ 1:57 am WDD-Admin

      People used to try to get their sites listed as high in the category structure as possible, seeking pages with PageRank, but with Google’s concentration on relevant back-links, relevancy is far more important than the elusive PageRank.


  4. August 19, 2015 @ 4:50 pm Buay

    Ah, that’s why my site wasn’t getting any view! I was one of those idiot that was trying to look for the upper-link. This was really helpful especially because I’m very new to all of this blogging and trying to get it SEO ‘approve’. I think I’ll have to go back and apply some of these tips you have given. 🙂 ~thanks


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