Saturday, February 16, 2013

Is Web Directory Submission Still Good for SEO?

One of the most common questions I see for people launching new Websites is "Should I still submit my site to Web directories?"

The answer is definitely, YES...but with a lot of qualifiers and explanation. Today's SEO post is to help you determine some guidelines, or standards, for directories. By creating some standards for your site and what Web directory submission might be right, you can benefit tremendously from directory submissions, particularly if you are just starting out.

1. Some Web directories are good for just about everyone!

There's a short list of 25 directories that I would encourage almost everyone to submit to, regardless of your site's domain age. Some cost. Some are free. You will need to determine whether or not the paid ones fit in your budget. You know, 25 good links for a new site is a very good start.
  • Yahoo.dir - PR 8 - $299/year - no guarantee you'll be accepted. If you aren't accepted, they keep the $299
  • Dmoz.org - PR 7 - free - extremely hard to get listed unless your business is markedly different from anything else that's out there.
  • JoeAnt.com - PR 6 - $39.99 One Time
  • botw.org - PR 7 - $299.95 Once or $149.95/Yr
  • freebiedirectory.com - PR 7 - free
  • direktory.org.com - PR 7 - $39.95/One Time
  • metafilter.com - PR 7 - $5.00 One Time 
  • pioneerdir.com - PR 7 - $34.95 One Time   
  • business.com - PR 6 - $299/year
  • clora.net - PR 6 - 6$49.95 One Time
  • jayde.com - PR 6 - Free
  • cyberline.com - PR 6 - Free
  • whatuseek.com - PR 6 - $24.99 Once or $16.99/Yr 
  • killerstartups.com - PR 6 - Free
  • maven.co.il - PR 6 - $39.95 One Time
  • feedage.com - PR 6 - Free
  • hotvsnot.com - PR 6 - Free
  • somuch.com - PR 6 - Free 
  • alivedirectory.com - PR 6 - $49.95/year
  • somuch.com - PR 6 - Free
  • specialdir.com - PR 6 - $18.95 One Time 
  • alivedirectory.com - PR 6 - $34.95 One Time 
  • betterworldlinks.org - PR 6 - Free 
  • supremedir.com - PR 6 - $24.95 One Time 
  • ehef-newdelhi.org - PR 6 - $48.00/One Time 
 2. Now it's time to research!

The first thing I would recommend is to find out the domain age and originating country for the directory you are considering by viewing the "WhoIs" information at WhoIs.com. Enter the domain name of the directori you want to research and click the "WhoIs Lookup" hyperlink just below the box. You'll be  taken to a "WhoIS" lookup page. Re-enter the directory's domain name.

Here's an example. I wanted to research :  linkslegend.com

By following the above process I saw this:

Screen shot of WhoIs.com opening screen with WhoIs lookup hyperlink highlighted
Screenshot of the subsequent screen after using the Whois lookup hyperlink
 



Screenshot of the whois lookup information for the doamin linkslegend.com













Okay, so here's the important pieces of information to consider:

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, LLC (http://www.godaddy.com)
   Domain Name: LINKSLEGEND.COM
      Created on: 03-Sep-10
      Expires on: 03-Sep-13
      Last Updated on: 02-Aug-12

   Registrant:
   Domains By Proxy, LLC
   DomainsByProxy.com
   14747 N Northsight Blvd Suite 111, PMB 309
   Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
   United States

Here's what you can derive from this information:
  1. The registrar has chosen to make their information private
  2. The domain was established in 2010
  3. The domain owner has only purchased the domain for 3 years
  4. The domain is registered in the USA
 Here are some conclusions you might make from that information:
  1. Domain owners who want to be private can be problematic. If they were a real, solid business, with transparency, they would have registered using their business address.
  2. The older the domain, the better. This is a fairly young domain so it might not have the authority that comes with age.
  3. The further out that domain expiration date is, the better. Or, the longer the period for which the domain owner registers the domain at one time the better. For example, it would be much better if the domain owner had purchased the domain for 8-10 years because that shows the intent for a long-term commitment. This is important if you have to pay to be listed. If you pay $49 for a permanent listing and the domain expires or gets delisted by Google in the next 2 years, you are not going to get a refund.
  4. This I'll leave totally up to your call. There are perfectly reputable domain registrars in other countries. However, speaking from personal experience, I would not necessarily trust registrars from certain other countries. I'm not going to name them. You'll have to make that judgement call on your own.
 Okay, so we were researching "http://www.linkslegend.com" - Given two things that are important to me: the domain expires in 2013 and that the domain owner has chose to be anonymous, I would not choose personally to list my site or sites I have as client in this directory. I don't care how high its Pagerank is.

3. Wait a minute - How do I research PageRank? And what PageRank is high enough?

This is an easy one. Just navigate to http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php and plug in the domain you want to check. Out will pop the PageRank.  If the PageRank of the directory you are considering is the same or lower than your site's current PageRank...cross the directory off your list.

4. Research more than just PageRank - find out how many inbound links the Directory has.

There's a wonderful free tool referred to as OSE - It's SeoMoz's Open Site Explorer. Here, you can find out how many inbound links the directory you are considering has. You can also see how many of those links are .edu or .gov links. These types of links are extremely valuable and hard to obtain, so if a directory has them, it gives that directory a lot of credibility.

Here's how LinksLegend.com, the domain we've been looking at fairs in OSE: 

Screen shot of results for LinksLegend.com in Open Site Explorer tool




Whoa! Wait a minute...This directory has inbound links from Harvard? Okay, well, this really gets my attention and makes me reconsider.






You see what I am saying? You really need to research these directories, a lot, in order to determine which ones are worthwhile. Keep a count of the number of .edu and .gov links the directory you are considering has. Those are hard to get, so if the directory has a good number of them, it's a good indication that they might be reputable.

5. Look at the Alexa ranking

Now, I'm going to say up front taht I am not a big fan of the Alex ranking statistic. I have even LESS of an ides of what goes into determingin an Aleca ranking than I do with what goes into a Google algorithm. However, it does give you some comparative information, that, when taken altogether with everything else, may or may not influence your decision.

The Alex ranking of "linkslegend.com" -  723,802

As is the case with PageRank, I would carefully weigh whether or not you want to submit to any directory that has a significantly worse Alexa ranking that your site does.  Obviously, for a new site, the bar for an Alexa ranking is set pretty low. I wouldn't base my whole decision on this, but I'd certainly let the Alexa ranking weigh in.

6. Try emailing the Web directories "Contact Us" page and see if you can get anything more tha  an automated response.

I know that sounds too easy, but you'd be surprised at how fast you can separate the wheat from the chaff by doing something to simple. Send an email to their contact us page with a very specific question. Then, wait and see what kind of response you get. If the response comes quickly and is obvioualy from a human being fluent in the language you used for your email. that's an very positive sign.

7. Are "Featured Listings" in a directory going to be viewed as SPAM by the search engines?

A lot of the directories that require payment for review are also going to try to sell you "Featured Listings." In the last year, due to changes in Google's algorithm and the infamous Penguin update, people are running scared about low-quality backlinks. 

Here's the deal - If you choose to pay additional money for an upgraded listing at a Web directory, all it's going to give you is more backlinks from the same, singular root domain. Is it going to significantly help your SEO, probably not. Is it going to significantly help your exposure, traffic and click-through rates? Maybe, depending on how good, relevant and highly-trafficked the directory is. 

Featured listing should be viewed as display advertising, 

and any traffic from those sources should be considered paid traffic. Calculate that into your budget, but understand that it has nothing to do with SEO.

Closing Comments:

I hope this helps you all define a method to research possible Web directories. Just in case you're short on time (and who isn't), here is a "short list" of some of the better directories that I recommend and to which I have submitted sites to myself


Final notes:
  1. Under no circumstances use automated site submissions to Web directories.
  2. Write unique content...and yes, I mean a different description...for every submission
  3. For God's sake don't keyword stuff your submissions, that's sooooooo 2001.
  4.  Never use anything for the title of your submission except for your domain name or site title.