There was a time when webmasters would sit on their computers for hours on end, furiously submitting their new web site to free web directories. Although this was always time consuming, it was definitely worth it once.
However, Google’s algorithm has changed a few times since then, altering the way the search engine views these types of links. It is now necessary to question whether or not free is worth the price. Let’s talk about the downfalls and negatives of submitting to free web directories.
The Cost in Time
Although there are tools that can speed up the process, submission tools generally mean that you will be submitting exactly the same description and anchor text to every directory that you submit to, and that runs contrary to the link diversity that the search engines are looking for these days.
Yes, there are directory submission services that offer to submit your site to “x” number of web directories for “x” number of dollars but, despite the fact that some of them promise manual submissions, the truth is that most of them use submission tools, and the directories that they will submit your site to will not be very good, as the better directories won’t accept automatic submissions.
Submitting your site to hundreds of free directories can be a grueling process. Your arms will grow tired and your fingers will begin to numb. This is a task that could put a statue to sleep, and once you have submitted your site to a few hundred directories, you’ll feel as if you have completed a marathon. If nothing else, your butt will hurt.
However, the more significant problem is that you could have spent your time doing something far more productive, and fun.
Free Equates to Low Quality
In other articles published on this site, we have discussed the fact that directory submission fees are not paid links, so I won’t go into that again here.
There is an old adage that suggests that you get what you pay for. When it comes to web directories, there is some truth to that but it’s not entirely straightforward. Some directories charge far more than they are worth, and there are some fairly cheap ones that are worth far more than they charge. Indeed, there are even some free ones that are quite good.
Still, the vast majority of free directories aren’t worth the time that it takes to submit to them, and some of them will do your site more harm than good, at least potentially. It makes sense to look upon free directory submissions with caution.
Free submissions attract spam, and some of it nearly always finds its way into the directory. Given that they are not charging for submissions, free directories are unlikely to employ anyone to review submissions, and some will simply accept submissions automatically.
Trust me, you don’t want your site to be sharing a page with a bunch of low quality links, since that is the definition of a bad neighborhood.
Waiting and Waiting for Approval
When a free directory is maintained by a human being, this person is likely to be the owner of the directory or an individual who is working for free.
When the owner is left to review all submissions by himself, given that ninety percent of the submissions he receives will be spam or low quality junk, it is likely to take him a long time to get to yours.
Some free directories, the most famous of which is DMOZ, are maintained entirely by volunteers. Please don’t misunderstand me, as some of these people do a very good job maintaining the part of the directory they are responsible for but, since they are working for free, they are unlikely to spend hours on end working the submission queue. As a result, it can take years for someone to get around to reviewing your submission to DMOZ.
Some directories include both paid and free submission options, and you’d better believe that the paid submissions will be handled before the free ones, and they are more likely to be accepted. An editor might take the time to correct submission errors in a paid submission, while they are apt to simply decline free submissions that contain errors.
Limitations of Free Directory Submissions
Free directories usually offer fewer options when it comes to specific linkage. Rather than being able to link directly to internal pages of your site, you will usually be required to submit only your top-level domain and nothing else. Although this might be helpful, it might not suit your current SEO strategy since it doesn’t provide for link diversity.
Additionally, paid submissions are often displayed above free ones in a category, so the paid submissions are more likely to send targeted traffic to your site and, in the case of large categories, your free submission might find itself on page seventeen, where nobody will ever see it, and on a page that might not even be included in the search engine index.
If You Must
There are some free directories that are well organized and which will provide a good neighborhood for your site, so don’t dismiss a directory solely on the basis of its submission fee. However, you need to look it over carefully to ensure that it is a well maintained directory, one that is of good quality.
Web directories are just one part of an effective marketing strategy, so you should carefully select the directories that you are going to submit your site to. Look for well organized directories, and ones that are edited regularly. Niche directories relevant to your site’s topic are great, but otherwise you should be sure to submit to the most appropriate category, since Google cares about the relevancy of your back-links.
Use Your Time and Money Effectively
Before you spend time and money submitting your site to web directories, make sure that your site is ready for prime time. The quality of the content on your site is the most effective variable in your SEO strategy, so you don’t want to neglect that.
Once your site is ready to be introduced to the public, submit it to a couple of the better directories, insofar as you can afford it. Then wait a couple of weeks before submitting to a few more directories. Pace yourself.
Also, don’t forget that web directories should be only a part of your marketing strategy. You should also be promoting your site through other avenues as well.
- Consider joining Web Directory Forum for further discussion of web directories and related topics.