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Quality Web Directories, Should I pay?

You may already know that submitting your websites to link directories is a good way to supplement your other link building activities.

Even in the Google Webmaster tips it is stated to submit your site to quality directories. That leaves the question “what is a quality directory” and when is it really worth paying to be included in a directory. Unfortunately Google does not list the directories they consider to be quality so we are left to reason out what they would likely include.

First it is good to consider the original purpose of a directory. Many web directory owners now try to include as many links as they can in their link directory as fast as possible with little thought to the organization or quality of the sites they add. Originally though web directories were compiled to help people quickly find useful, well written websites on the subject they are looking for. Google looks for web directories that fit this original purpose.

When you are making the decision as to whether to pay to be included or not, first go to the category of the directory you are considering. Look at the sites that are currently listed. There is little value in a web directory that fails any of the items below.

  1. Quality of the sites currently listed. Be sure that the sites that are listed in the directory are sites you would want your website associated with. If the sites are low quality, spam filled web sites; this could lead the search engines to believe yours is of the same quality.
  2. Theme of the sites: Directories that lump a large number of unrelated sites on the same page look like link farms. Be sure the websites in the directory you are considering are well organized and all the sites on each page follow the topic of the page. This includes all exterior links found in footer links and other links on the page.
  3. Relevance of the link text and description: The search engines like links on relevant pages, in a web directory this is determined by the link text, description and also the topic of the site linked to. All or at least almost all of the link text and descriptions should follow the same theme; it should be easy to see that the sites are all on the same subject.
  4. Can you find any “Authority” or “Hub” sites: These are sites that carry a greater weight with the search engines. They are normally PR7 or above, large very informative sites, often from large companies or universities (.edu). Inclusion of these sites shows the editor was really looking to add the best websites to his directory and further emphasizes the topic of that web page.

Not following all of these points does not necessarily mean you should have no interest in the directory. Having some lower quality links to your site is all right too, but if you are going to pay for the inclusion, be sure you get what you are paying for. A few dollars for a little lower quality may be fine, but some sites charge $50, $100, or more, don’t waste your money on poor quality directories.

A few directories that are likely worth the price to be included are

Below is a list of common problems found with some web directories. Sites that have these problems are likely of no value to you. In most cases it is not even worth the time to submit to these directories for free.

However there are exceptions. Remember that the reason you want links to your site is to increase the traffic. Some niche directories provide little benefit to your website as far as the search engine traffic goes, but themselves send qualified traffic to your site, Very often this style of link is well worth the price. As an example there are many travel directories that include reviews, user comments and other features the bring people to the directory site and make them stay. These sites can be a great source of traffic.

Normally avoid web directories with these attributes:

  1. No Follow on the links
  2. No Follow in the robots tag in the head of the page
  3. No Follow in the robots.txt file.
  4. URL that is unfriendly to search engine spiders.
  5. Redirects used instead of direct links
  6. Poor link text used like “View Site”

While there is no guarantee that any directory is really worth the price (many people debate the value of DMOZ and Yahoo), by following these guidelines you will be able to make an informed choice, which will help you to maximize the value of each dollar you spend.


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