Paid Directories: Promote Your Website EffectivelyThe idea of this article is to provide a guide to webmasters who intend to or are already using web directories as a tool to attract more visitors to their websites and improve search engine ranking. Listing in some directories can be quite expensive, so you would probably want to know what they give in return. Also, how is the listing price established? Which directories are worth submitting to and which are not? Which are more cost-effective? To answer these questions I provide the below article plus the Paid Directories Rating Tool.
1. What are web directories
Web directories are specialized websites that provide listings of other websites by thematic category. Some of them are free, such as DMOZ. There are others, who can accept the listing of your website in exchange for a link from it - so called reciprocal listing, or for money - paid directories. Some directories might combine the above three methods, that is, they can be free+reciprocal+paid at the same time.
2. What is the value of being listed?
Listing in a directory offers two advantages: 1) People visiting the directory will spot your website and click to visit it 2) search engines (such as Google) see that your website is listed and count this link to show your website better in their result pages.
The first advantage is called LEADS. It was the original idea behind web directories in early ages of the Web, to provide surfers with a list of trusted websites which were checked by directory's editors. A good example of this is DMOZ, a free directory managed by independent editors (you can actually become one of them and it is free!).
The second advantage is called the SEO aspect of listing. Because Google - now the largest search engine - ranks websites based on the number and quality of incoming links to them, webmasters are obsessed with the idea of building their link popularity, that is, the number of other websites linking to them. In doing so, they use various methods, and listing in web directories seems to be the most natural one.
3. How to choose a web directory?
We are now talking about choosing a PAID web directory. Why reciprocal and free directories are not discussed here? Because free directories only need your attention at the moment when you submit your website. With them, there is no guarantee when your website will be listed or when. Speaking of DMOZ, it is known to take months or even years for a website to be approved. This happens because a free directory usually receives thousands of submissions and it is a hard work to sort them out for the voluntary editors such directories usually employ.
Reciprocal directories are not covered here because there are dubious effects of building lots of links on your website leading to various directories in exchange for listing. You might get a good ranking in Google doing so, or you might get a Google ban for link exchange. This is not a sustainable SEO strategy for a serious website, though some exceptions, small scale, are possible.
We have, therefore, limited ourselves to looking at paid directories. Now, what should be looked at when we consider a submission? Below we provide the most important factors for a webmaster who runs a promotion campaign for a travel website:
- submission cost
- submission duration
- authority of the directory
- structure of the directory
- additional directory features that improve SEO effects
Let's look at each of the above factors more carefully.
Submisson cost and durationThe submission cost varies from the most expensive Yahoo!'s 299 USD per year to the cheapest directories offering lifetime listing for 5 dollars. In analyzing this factor, let's assume that lifetime listing means a 10 year listing in order for us to be able to compare annually paid listing fees and lifetime fees. Ten years seems to be a reasonable time for a website, considering that the Web itself, as we know it, has been in existence for 15-20 years only. We assume that a lifetime listing remains live and online for ten years minimum.
This approach means that listing in Yahoo! will cost you 10x299USD=2990 dollars for 10 years. Listing in the cheap five dollar lifetime listing directory will cost you 5 dollars for the same 10 years.
Authority of the directoryCurrently, Google's Pagerank is still used to define the authority of a website. Other factors, such as age, number of incoming links or number of direct references can also be taken into account. For our analysis, we use a generally accepted rule for Pagerank that a website of PR3 is five times more important that a PR2 website, and five times less important than a PR4 website.
Apart from Pagerank, we use the number of exact references in search engines, for example:
Google: "directory.yahoo.com" -site:yahoo.com
This search query will give you the number of times Yahoo! directory is mentioned on other websites. Even though not all of those references would be hyperlinks, this indicator is fairly accurate to show the popularity of a directory website.
Structure and featuresWeb directories can also offer additional value for promotion of your website. The directory's structure is a key element: the deeper on secondary or tertiary level pages your link is located, the less value it is for your promotion needs. Therefore, a listing on numbered page 40 of your selected category seems to have less value than the same listing on a top page, because the first numbered page is closer to the index, usually it has a non-zero pagerank and is more often visited by people.
It must be noted that the bigger and older the directory is the less chances you would have to be listed somewhere near the index, unless the directory is configured to show latest listings on top of the list.