How I do Directory Submissions

March 8th, 2008 by Chris

Submitting to directories is one of the most straightforward ways to build links to your websites, however such a practice is not without problems, there is a prevalence of small directories and directory operators who mainly exist to swindle you. For instance a directory operator may constantly launch new directories, focusing all the PageRank they have on the new ones, to make it look like an attractive submission, then eventually they may get banned for manipulating PageRank etc, or submissions dwindle, and they open a new one, forsaking the old one. Meaning, that nice listing you paid for, quickly evaporates.

Directories alone also cannot be your only link building endeavor, you need other types of links as well, that being said, here is how I go about doing directory submissions.

There are three prime directories every site needs to consider.

DMOZ, the poorly managed free directory. It can take months or years to get in, and then a competitor who is a directory editor can just remove your listing or not approve it to begin with. There have been cases where even higher up DMOZ editors (so-called “meta editors”) were corrupt in this way. Still, every new site should be submitted. You just cannot count on it.

Yahoo, the premier pay directory, has vastly dropped in importance due to Yahoo’s own decisions to devalue and de-emphasize their directory in their search results and throughout their site. Meaning less and less traffic browses their directory than what used to. They also charge a yearly fee, not a one-time fee, of $300 a year. So, in order to submit to them you need make sure you will earn at least $300 a year directly off the traffic & link benefits you gain from the directory listing. In general I consider listings for sites whom I think can be rewarded with an increase of at least $10 a day through higher traffic. I know, an actual positive ROI would be around $1 a day, but there are other methods for raising traffic than a Yahoo submission, that would give a much better ROI, so the gains in my mind have to be substantial to justify it.

Best of the Web, what I consider the last of the top tier directories, has the benefit of being very similar to Yahoo, but better in that they have one time fee submission options. With a one time fee submission you have 5 years, 10 years, to make up the cost, it is much easier to justify than Yahoo’s yearly fee (BOTW also has a yearly fee option). BOTW has been around nearly as long as Yahoo as well, and throughout the directory PageRanks are very close. They have less traffic than Yahoo of course, but they are much cheaper too. By the way, BOTW has a coupon going on till the end of this month for $25, that makes a one time fee listing about half as much as Yahoo’s yearly fee. Coupon Code: SAVEBIG.

After those I go down a tier to secondary directories which are valid directories, and so I do not worry about then losing their ability to pass PageRank, but on the other hand they do not contribute large amounts of traffic. These are and especially and I tend to regularly get submissions from them.

For a new site that is typically all I’ll do. If you can afford it, patient SEO is usually best. I never want to do too many directory listings at the same time. So I’ll wait a few months and see where I’m at and if I’m not pleased with the progress I’m making in the SERPs, I’ll do a few more submissions.

For these additional submissions I scour sites like and looking for quality pay directories. I tend to only look for pay ones. Free ones I’ll find by doing backlink searches on my competitors and submit to them that way. Free ones that my competitors aren’t in tend to not be worth it so I don’t bother. Reciprocal link free ones are never worth it, you never want to link to a potential bad neighborhood, and just generic free ones can end up being covered in so much spam it is doubtful the link helps much at all.

So I focus on paid ones, and when looking for them I check the following criteria.

  • If I see any sort of spammy sites in it, I move on.
  • I check the PageRank, Google cache, and backlinks of both the homepage and the subcategory I will be submitting to. A blank in any of these isn’t an automatic disqualifier (except cache, no cache, no submission), pages at Yahoo and DMOZ will show blanks sometimes for PageRank or backlinks, but not having these things does weigh against the directory. Also, for the homepage, make sure the backlinks don’t look artificially generated.
  • If the site loads slowly, looks unprofessional, is buggy, or otherwise looks amateurish, I move on.
  • I check the whois of the site to see who owns it, I do reverse searches to see other sites owned or on the same server. If I find a directory that is owned by someone who owns a dozen directories, I move on because of the risks I outlined at the start of this post.
  • I check and to see traffic data.

This, like thinking of Yahoo is worth it for your site, is all very much a judgment call, but I think it pays to be picky. In the end I probably pass on 10 directories before finding one I’ll submit to, then I tend to submit at least 3 different sites if I find one I like.

The point being, link building is as much about your site’s reputation as your site’s rankings, and I think being discriminating in your submissions is a good thing and will help make sure you do not over do things and trip any present or future filter or penalty.

So I’ll do around 3 or 4 submissions for a site, and again, stop for a few months to see where I am at (stop with directory submissions, not necessarily all link building). Slow and steady, but reliable. If you can afford to be patient, be patient. There is nothing worse than racing to the top with shadier impatient methods only to fall back to oblivion thanks to a penalty or ban shortly after you get there.

10 Responses to “How I do Directory Submissions”

  1. Marc  Says:

    I included my site in Yahoo Directory 2 years ago. I never saw any benefit as far as link juice is concerned. I can find the directory page indexed in Google if I really dig for it. I never gotten a single referral in 2 years from Yahoo Directory. I have never renewed my Yahoo Directory listing yet they still keep it there. Fine with me, since it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t see to help either. I think Yahoo directory is dead and would not advise people to pay for it. I think directories are dead in general. I base that on dozens of other sites I own which have been in various other directories for long periods of time.

    I think people are better off submitting individual pages to social bookmarking sites.

  2. Imran Khalid  Says:

    Yes Marc,

    i agreed with you, i found that Yahoo directory is really useless and does not give you traffic, but it only gives you a backlink.

  3. Baby Girl Names  Says:

    i agree with what you just said.It’s so complicated to get a link on dmoz,i heard it’s very important…i tried 3 times…failed every time

  4. Michiel Van Kets  Says:

    mmm, some interesting stuff, but I don’t really agree …

    I’m surprised you give priority to paid dirs … I really think you can’t judge a directory based on the sole fact that it’s paid or not.

    although the vast majority of free directories are indeed pretty crappy, there are 300 really good ones, 700 ok and then an other 1.000 that are on the edge, so those 1.000 are only interesting because of the huge amount and in the hope some of them will increase to be better sooner or later and then it’s good to be in them from in the beginning.

    sure, 2.000 dirs subs is a huge number, but to do 500 submissions to the top-500 free directories is a must in my opinion, the minimum to be taken serious …

    I do agree it’s best to spread it, not to avoid penalties, as the dirs take time to review and so it’s spread already, but just to keep your option in case you want to focus on extra keywords or to give 1-2 specific keywords the little extra push they need, this because directory submission are proven to show results ( for now ;-) )

    just my 2 baht …



  5. Directory Critic  Says:

    I think free directories are as useful, there’s this useful research study conducted to test the results of submissions to free directories and the results showed the site ranking for its target terms, details here:

    So I think while it works, we as internet marketers, should not totally ignore submitting to free directories.

  6. GAMEHAXERZ  Says:

    Wow thanks for this wonderful article

  7. katy perry  Says:

    One of the benefits of living in an Internet-enabled world is being able to share and experience the music of other cultures. The world of Turkish music is alive and well on the Internet, and with the right tools, you’ll be well on your way to having a colossal collection of vital sounds.

  8. adams  Says:

    Excellent writing. It really help me. thank u a lot

  9. couponswift  Says:

    you saved my money, i was about to submit my website to several paid directories. thank you

  10. Ilia  Says:

    Yahoo isn’t making your site traffic but good that you gain quality backlinks and also free directories ins’t bed for your rankings.

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