Are web directories relevant for your marketing strategy today? Of course, the old days when web directories triumphed over search engines are over. These days, search engines are the gods of the Internet, and the primary source of traffic for millions of websites. A few years ago, when the Internet was still in its infancy, web directories were the kings of the internet, and most webmasters were using these directories to obtain traffic for their website. Google was not yet in existence, Yahoo was a web directory, and WebCrawler was the most popular search engine.
The Difference Between Web Directories and Search Engines
A good web directory is a place where you can find a list of websites that are neatly organized into categories and subcategories. Each listing is reviewed by human editors before being approved and listed in the directory. Usually, the payment of a certain fee is required in order to submit your website to the directory, and inclusion is not guaranteed. Therefore, in a well organized web directory, users can expect to find highly relevant results for what they are searching for, although not nearly as many as a search engine might provide. Listings generally include only top domains, rather than individual pages.
On the other hand, a search engine is a place where you can search for relevant information on the web by using keywords or key phrases. Listings may be included in a search engine at no charge, but listings are accomplished through web crawlers rather than human editors. Thus, for any particular search, the results are always more numerous but often not as relevant as those found in a well organized web directory. Listings found in search engines consist of individual pages from various websites.
Web Directories — Past And Future
During the earliest years of the internet, webmasters are primarily used web directories in order to attract traffic to their website, in much the way that they use search engines today. The largest website directory was the Yahoo! Directory, followed by the Open Directory Project. However, these former web directory giants are changing as time goes by. The Yahoo! Directory was recently replaced by a business directory that appears to have been devised as a response to complaints over its announced closure of its long-time directory. The Open Directory Project is now known as DMOZ, and is still in operation, although new submissions rarely find their way into the directory.
However, there are some comparatively new and growing web directories that are still good choices for webmasters looking for traffic and back-links. Among these are AMRAY, Aviva Directory, Best of the Web, Directory Journal, and Jasmine Directory, to name a few. Far from dying, these directories are gaining ground within the internet landscape, and they are quickly gaining reputation among Internet marketers, as they are high quality directories that can serve as a source of traffic for listed websites. Although not as many people are turning to directories in order to locate resources on the Internet, they remain good choices for those who are in the know.
Please don’t confuse reputable web directories with the garbage directories that they share the Internet with. Shortly after search engines began to gain prominence on the Internet, another type of web directory, called FFA or Free For All sites, came into vogue for a brief time. These sites would allow you to list your website for free, and without any review process. The format of these FFA sites were almost the same as that of a regular web directories, the primary difference being the automatic process used by FFA sites, where submitted sites were automatically added, without any editorial discretion.
This type of directory was popular about ten years ago. However, given that these FFA sites were soon filled with spam and low quality site listings, their popularity soon dwindled, largely because Google devalued this type of listing. Realizing that these sites provided no value to users, Google gave them no value in its algorithm.
While the FFA sites are largely gone, there are web directories that, similarly, serve no purpose, as sites are added without benefit of human discretion. These low quality web directories may be referred to as junk directories, garbage directories, or crap directory, and are not representative of the web directory industry, as they have more in common with the old FFA sites than with reputable web directories.
Choosing the Right Directory
The primary rule to follow in choosing a web directory is to submit your site only to well organized, high quality directories. Never submit your site to an FFA sites or a junk web directory. At best, inclusion in such directories will offer no value to you and, at worst, it may harm your site’s ranking in the end, since many of these directories have already been penalized by the search engines, or are in line to be so treated, and their listings are valueless.
You are unlikely to come across any of the traditional FFA sites, since they have been wiped off the face of the Internet. However, as I mentioned earlier, there are modern versions of the FFA sites that are disguised as web directories. These junk directories will allow you to list your website automatically upon submission, but usually for a fee. Once you’ve paid the payment, your site will be listed without any human intervention. These sites are modern versions of the FFA sites, and their listings are unlikely to hold value as far as the search engines are concerned, as they are basically nothing more than link farms.
How, then, can you find a good web directory? Well, although some are fee, most good web directories will require the payment of a submission fee, but without promising inclusion to the directory. Once you have submitted your site, an editor will review your website in order to determine whether it qualifies for inclusion in the directory. This is a good thing, as it suggests that this particular directory is likely to provide high quality and relevant websites for its users, one without a lot of dead links, excessive advertising, or other marketing gimmicks. In a reputable web directory, those sites that are accepted will enjoy a listing within a good neighborhood.
Because it provides a good user experience, a well organized, reputable web directory is more likely to send targeted traffic to your business or organization’s site. In many cases, a good web directory will also provide its users with other resources, such as blog content, useful articles, webmaster tools, and interactive features.
Are Web Directories Useful in Marketing?
The short answer is yes, you need them. However, you need to associate your website only with good web directories. In this way, you will increase the value of your website in the search engines. The backlinks that you receive from well organized web directories are of high quality, reputable, and authoritative. Google will consider these links to be highly important in its search algorithm.
Since good web directories are likely to have users, although fewer than you might have seen ten years ago, these may include targeted traffic for your site.
Knowing the benefits of a good web directory, you should include them in your Internet marketing strategy. Certainly, there are other ways to attract traffic to your website, and you should use them as well, but directory submission is one of the best ways to increase your quality backlinks and to improve your search engine ranking. Good web directories are good SEO.