Building Links And Driving Web Traffic Through Directories

by Mike on February 16, 2009
in Link Building

The other day I was reading an epic post on getting backlinks that matter and it really got my brain cells going.  I decided to do my own little mini-series of posts discussing the many link-building methods used by internet marketers.  But rather than writing one long post I’m going to break it up into a whole series so I can go more in depth on each method.

By the way, if you’re looking for some more ideas on how to get links to your site check out my post on 50 Link Building Tips That Work.

In this post I’m going to discuss web site directories.  I believe there’s a lot of misconceptions about directories and I think most marketers and bloggers go about using them in all the wrong ways.

What is a Web Site Directory?

A web site directory is really nothing more than a list of links sorted by categories.  Imagine an online version of the Yellow Pages but instead of telephone numbers it lists websites.

Up until just a few years ago search engine algorithms were not particularly effective and you’d have to sift through a lot of irrelevant results to find what you were looking for.

I remember sitting at work in 2001 going over a list of songs my fiance sent me that she wanted the DJ to play at our wedding.  One of the songs was My Girl, and it had an question mark next to it because my wife couldn’t remember who sang it.  Since I couldn’t remember either I jumped on the web and ran a simple search for “my girl singer”.

The top ranked site for that term back then was called “Spice Girls Ate My Balls”.  Needless to say that wasn’t what I was looking for! In fact there weren’t any relevant results in the top ten and I had to go to the second page to find out My Girl was sung by The Temptations.

Since search engine results were often unreliable many people used directories to find what they needed.  They’d simply go to the most relevant category and drill down until they found what they were looking for.

For example, if I was looking for info on former New Jersey Devils center Sergei Brylin my directory search would look something like this…

Sports -> Hockey -> NHL -> Teams -> Devils -> Players -> Sergei Brylin

Certainly not the fastest way to search…so as search engines became more and more accurate most people abandoned site directories altogether.

Using Site Directories Effectively

I’m going to tell you something right off the bat…do not expect to see a flood of traffic coming from site directories.  In fact if you submitted your site to 1000 different directories I’d be shocked if you got ANY visitors.

So if you’ll never see any traffic from site directories why the hell should you bother? 


Yes, site directories are an easy way to build links back to your site or blog.  More links means more authority with the search engines which can eventually mean more traffic! 

Now its important to keep in mind that individual directory links are pretty much worthless.  Even if the directory’s homepage is a PR 6 the page your link is placed will likely be very low.  And it will be on a page full of links so your’s will only get a tiny amount of authority passed to it. 

Its hardly worth the trouble really, but if you get enough links like this they can actually start to add up to something.  But understand it takes a good deal of volume before you’ll see any return.

Dos and Don’ts

Do submit your site to the Open Directory Project.  Its a long, painful, and frustrating process and you’ll probably never get in anyway…but if you do you’ll hit the jackpot.  DMOZ links pass a lot of authority, plus many other sites syndicate their listings so you’ll get links from all over the place.

Don’t waste a lot of time submitting.  Individual links have little value so you should limit the amount of time you spend getting them.

Do outsource the submission process.  Since the process is simple you can have just about anyone do it for you for a very small price.

Don’t use the same keywords in every directory.  You want the links to look natural so use your main keyword often but mix it up with secondary keywords and semantic phrases.

Do build slowly.  Suddenly getting 1200 new backlinks won’t look very natural to the search engines and it will probably get your site sandboxed for awhile.

What are your thoughts on site directories?  Leave a comment below and let me know what you think and what kind of results you’ve seen.


39 Responses to “Building Links And Driving Web Traffic Through Directories”
  1. Leo (3 comments.) says:

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for “love”. You make some great points here. Directories are perfect ways to grab PR and link authority fairly quick.

    As far as the DMOZ is concerned, most people aren’t aware that they can actually submit parts of their site to multiple categories….for instance, CNN is listed something like 500 times in the DMOZ.

    So, think about it…let’s say that you are a “make money blog”…why not add an extension and create a SEO company in your city and then submit that using a URL as a folder for your site?…of course, you could do all sorts of things but that is one way to get into the DMOZ fairly quick…

    Just a thought though…

  2. Julia - Fast Blog Finder (2 comments.) says:

    I’ve been doing SEO for my company website and I was using directory submission to build links. I prefer submit the site to directories myself so I can see the directories where the submission is successfull and where it failed. Using a directory submitter tool this process goes fast and easy.

  3. Mike Collins says:

    @Leo, thanks for stopping by. Have you had any success getting listed in DMOZ? none of my sites were listed though I admit up until now I’ve mostly focused on smaller niche sites that promote affiliate products. Not exactly authority sites.

    @Julia, is there a specific too you use and would recommend to streamline the process?

  4. Dennis Edell (46 comments.) says:

    I’d be interested in submitter tools as well. it might make a good follow up post. :)

    Dennis Edells last blog post..Guest Bloggers Wanted/Needed Right Here

  5. Julia - Fast Blog Finder (2 comments.) says:

    Yes, I would recommend Fast Directory Submitter at I am using it myself.

    Julia – Fast Blog Finders last blog post..Value Proposition: Why They Should Buy from You

  6. GERRI (1 comments.) says:

    I will give this a go and see what kind of success I have with it. Thanks.

    GERRIs last blog post..Take Advantage of the Chitika Stimulus Package

  7. Classifieds (3 comments.) says:

    I have also had trouble getting into DMOZ, they always seem to reject me because I never hear back from them. A good automated directory tool i like to use is . Its semi automated, but it makes it very easy to submit to directories. And plus its free for 1 site.

  8. Funny Stuff (15 comments.) says:

    I’ve heard DMOZ has basically become corrupt now (editors removing listings unless they get money from the site owner). Directories, I don’t think are really worth the time unless you outsource it or get a program that’ll make it much easier.

    Funny Stuffs last blog post..Bottled Water

  9. Brad Callen (4 comments.) says:

    yeah here i m giving an example,if your site is about real estate then try to get your site into as many real estate directories. The Yahoo Directory is probably the best directory, but it’s not free. Getting into these directories can also help with search engine ranking.

  10. trading (3 comments.) says:

    As for the last “do”, it depends. If you have a new site, you may be penalized for getting a lot of directory links at once. But if you have a seasoned site with a lot of natural links (about a thousand or so), massive directory submission will help you a lot, and it doesn’t really matter how many different keywords you’ll use while submitting.

  11. The Blogger Source (12 comments.) says:

    Thanks for the tool Julia.

    The Blogger Sources last blog post..15 Tips To Get More RSS Subscribers

  12. Richardo (1 comments.) says:

    DMOZ is the best for the viral link love it can provide ya….

    As people spider the DMOZ content, let them build your links for you!

    Pure Gold…

  13. Web Design Beach (11 comments.) says:

    Surely, links from directories are only meant to use for backlinks, and SEO strengthening, but it is very hard to compile quality list of free directories which are well structured. Because many of Dirs are made in such a way that SE bot can hardly come to deep pages inside the directory and you never get noticed.

  14. Steve Booth (10 comments.) says:

    hey Mike,
    I’m convinced that any link that is easy to get is not going to count for much… but I guess it all adds up eventually. If we all take a bucket of water out of the ocean each day… :)
    I look forward to the rest of this series.
    I clicked through to Julia’s tool since anything free must have a catch. It does but it isn’t bad, I think. At the end of the 30 page guide it mentions that it can to submit to 1000 directories. The first 150 are free, then you need to pay. As I said, not unexpected and not that bad, though I’m not sure how effective it is in the first place. – Steve Booth

  15. Cavitenio (1 comments.) says:

    “Do outsource the submission process. Since the process is simple you can have just about anyone do it for you for a very small price.”

    I am sorry but for me, it can be done without paying money, I swear. Just be more creative and resourceful.

  16. Ben Pei (9 comments.) says:

    I have tired so hard to get listed on DMO and I wander whats stopping them.

    Ben Peis last blog post..Interview With Garry Conn On Google Talk

  17. Listen To Hip Hop Music (4 comments.) says:

    Shame on you both for not knowing the Temptations sang My Girl! lol. Anyhow, cool post, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series! I’ve been using digixmas for directory submissions. It’s an easy way of submitting, though I will admit, after submitting to hundreds of directories over a few months time, my results weren’t as good as I had hoped. I think the search engines are starting to take them into effect less and less.

    Listen To Hip Hop Musics last blog post..Jay Rock x Busta Rhymes – Beat A Rapper Down

  18. Webkinz (15 comments.) says:

    I think that isn’t as good as it was. Google don’t like such staff nowadays.

    Webkinzs last blog post..Webkinz Jr. Releases by Ganz

  19. Online Deals (5 comments.) says:

    I still use directories for getting links but they are my last resource. I do it all manually (pain in the ass).

    As for DMOZ I submitted a really good site 18 months ago, still not in. I don’t think they like it:(

    Online Dealss last blog post..Wii Fit at Walmart

  20. Online Money Making (1 comments.) says:

    I try to submit to at least 20 directories a week, over time these will start to build links. It’s one small process of a lot of backlinking processes.

    I submitted to over 12 months ago, still waiting…

  21. Funny Stuff (15 comments.) says:

    I feel like even if you submit to DMOZ a long time ago, they will rarely, if ever accept any new links unless you offer some editor some money. I do still submit to DMOZ since it’s easy, but I don’t ever anticipate getting into it.

    Funny Stuffs last blog post..The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Gangsta Version

  22. Mike Collins says:

    I’ve also heard rumors that some of the editors at DMOZ will only accept new sites if they are paid, but I’ve seen no one offer proof.

    I can certainly believe at least a few editors have been corrupted and are using their position for profit but I don’t think its fair to assume all editors are guilty.

  23. Market Secrets Blogger (2 comments.) says:

    Directories seem to be having a diminishing effect for backlink value…I believe its because all the social networks out there are NOW just as link worthy as directories used to be!

    Therefore, I will state here that social networks is the new directory

    What do you all think on this :?:

    Market Secrets Bloggers last blog post..Posting Frequencies

  24. Rahul Jadhav (4 comments.) says:

    I have submitted my blog to DMOZ but it hasnt yet been accepted. I hope that it does get accepted. Other than that i dont submitt my blog to blog directories

    Rahul Jadhavs last blog post..How Oscars And Nokia Brought Traffic To My Blog

  25. web design miami (3 comments.) says:

    The most important thing here is persistence. If you post 10-20 backlinks a day it’ll not only take a little of your time but will also give you great results over time. If you spend 8 hours a day submitting your backlinks search engines will quickly pick up on it and decide that something’s wrong.

  26. Kim Web (1 comments.) says:

    I have read so many article on the whys and why not’s of using directories as a form of link building, and it does get a little confusing, I myself submit to directories as this is good of SEO, and it helps with getting credibility for new sites.It does take patience as some of them do take a long time to get approved I have also read that having a blog is a great way of getting links, but also going and blogging on relevant site can help too.

  27. GoFrostfire (4 comments.) says:

    The problem with most directories is that they want payment, given this there are often easier and cheaper link opportuntiies.

  28. seo india (1 comments.) says:

    True that back links via General and Niche directory much helpful and legal from seo point of view but hard to collect and build links via such pure source.

  29. Online Marketing (2 comments.) says:

    Directories are complete garbage and should not be the focus of a link building campaign. When building links you will want to focus on building links with places with traffic and link juice so you get traffic and link juice from the links your build . Work smarter not harder.

    Online Marketings last blog post..Interview with Anvil Media

  30. Firany (3 comments.) says:

    Ah nostalgia… I remember those times when you were likely to get completely inappropriate results for even the most innocent keywords. Right now searching for a single word means getting at least 10-20 results of companies and businesses before hitting anythin even slightly related.

  31. @OnlineMarketing: I couldn’t agree with you more…

    …Work smarter not harder

    Caleb – The Market Secrets Bloggers last blog post..The Buzz Killer

  32. Solar Power (3 comments.) says:

    You mention that the directory submission process can be out sourced. Who to? Where do you find people willing to do this laborious work?

  33. Mike Collins says:

    Hey Solar,

    I’ve used this service before and been very pleased with the results.


  34. Job Interview Questions (4 comments.) says:

    Great article and great summary, and it kind of confirmed what I thought all long, directories have very minimal effect on your rankings, and you shouldnt waste too much time submiting to them, as they are only effective in large numbers. Thanks.

  35. Kampanye Damai (1 comments.) says:

    I always use article directories to boost my traffic and rank. Besides it’s also a viral marketing so our backlinks will increase more than before

  36. michelle (2 comments.) says:

    Any website either it will be new or it will be old. Every time link building tactics works and getting index website in Dmoz and other free web directories its really helpful to get quick popularity as well as to get page rank.

  37. Scott5430 (9 comments.) says:

    i think link directories are a reasonable link building initiative. they are good because you can control the anchor text and surrounding copy, and the links are usually surrounded by other relevant links. i’ve been using fastdirectorysubmitter, and i can usually submit to about 50 directories in 15 minutes.

    Scott5430s last blog post..CDL Test

  38. gas card (3 comments.) says:

    Here is my take on it… I think building links with directories is not as valuable as they once were, I think everyone can agree on that, however the link juice seems to be helpful on the long run. But… like you suggest if you submit to ALOT of directories it can be worth it. From my experience, the most benefit that is gained by the link juice is via the MSN search engine. The second most effected in the yahoo, and then the least is Google. So, if you’ve got some free time, available, I’d suggest to submit links to directories while watching TV or something, as the work can be quite boring.

  39. Mike says:

    I agree…the link juice from each individual directory listing may be miniscule but when you add them all up they can have an effect. Its not worth spending a ton of time on though. If possible automate or outsource the work.

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