Are Web Directories Worth A Damn?

I have sites listed in several web directories, beginning with DMOZ several years ago and, as long as they work, I’ll continue to submit sites to web directories.

I have never owned or worked for a web directory, however, and I cannot help but view web directories as a device for taking money out of the pockets of people who are desperate to introduce their websites to an audience, especially new webmasters.

If you are a new webmaster, and you have just published your new site, you are probably anxious to begin seeing visitors in your site statistics.

Because your site is new, people are unlikely to link to your site. For one thing, they won’t even find it until it starts appearing in the first page or two of search engine results, unless you write to them personally. Even then, people are hesitant about linking to other sites, either out of fear that Google will think they are accepting money for a link or because they view your new site as a potential competitor.

In your attempts to attract people to your site, you might decide to visit SEO blogs and forums. What you will find there, for the most part, at least as far as web directories are concerned, are two extremes.

You will find blog and forum posts insisting that web directories are dead, or that web directories are not a good search engine optimization practice. You will also find people who are trying to attract you to their web directories. Unfortunately, while reputable web directories may have a presence in SEO forums, they are dominated by people who are hawking junk directories.

Junk Directories

Rather than discovering good quality web directories, which do exist, webmasters are more likely to come across numerous low-quality directories, many of which are outright scams. The only purpose for these directories are to accept money for listing sites in various categories on directories that no one ever uses.

Because there are no standards for listing a site, or because standards that may exist are extremely low, most of the sites listed in these junk directories will be of low quality, often accepted automatically upon payment of the fee, without any human oversight.

This is the practice that has led many people to believe that web directories are useless, since these web directories are numerous, and they are indeed useless.

Since the only discernible function of these directories is to sell back-links, it is reasonable to assume that Google may, at some point, if it hasn’t already, penalize these directories. Furthermore, because so many of the sites listed in these directories are of low quality, they may constitute a bad neighborhood that could have an adverse effect on a site’s standing in search engine results.

Lack of Trust

Many webmasters do not trust web directories, either because of the things that are said about them in blogs and on SEO forums, or because the ones they have come across were not worthy of their trust.Are Web Directories Worth a Damn?

Sadly, rather than doing their homework, which would have led them to reputable web directories, many webmasters are, instead, hiring the services of scam SEO schemes, or focusing far too much of their valuable effort into social media sites, which shouldn’t be ignored, but are unable to produce sustainable traffic.

Ironically, the self-proclaimed SEO experts who they are likely to come across on SEO forums will undoubtedly submit their site to the worst web directories on the Internet, after taking a cut for themselves.

The right web directories are useful resources for webmasters looking to gain an audience for their site. There are some good free ones, but most will require the payment of a submission fee. Only accepting good quality websites, reputable directories are actually used by people who are seeking information online, and are therefore able to send direct, targeted traffic to the sites that are listed within them.

Because they are well organized, and because the content is of good quality, the search engines are frequently indexing the pages of these web directories as well, so listed sites may see a bump in their search engine placement.

Are Web Directories Worth a Damn?

The answer to that question is yes, but many of them are not. Although there are many junk directories, you shouldn’t deprive yourself of those that are reputable. Learn to tell the difference. Before submitting your site to a web directory, you need to do your homework, so that you can be sure that your site is listed only in reputable directories, ones that have actual users, and in which your site will be in a good neighborhood.

Never submit your site to a directory that guarantees acceptance, and examine the pages of any directory that you are thinking of submitting your site to, making sure that it is well organized and that the sites that your site will be sharing a page with are a good neighborhood. Once you have found a reputable web directory, don’t be too cheap to pay a submission fee. These fees are the resources upon which the directory is able to maintain good quality standards.

— Jim Francour


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