Saturday, January 23, 2010


Main St. Diagram by Si1very.

Submit Your Site to Directories:
Watch Site Traffic Increase

There are directories for everything and anything – hobby sites, personal interest sites, political sites, commercial sites (by product) – you name it and someone has created a directory for it. And knowledgeable web users employ these directories much like search engines, but while search engines deliver quantity and not necessarily quality, directories are looking for the best of the best.

A search engine will spider a site, assess its content, inbound links and such, but it remains totally blind to the quality of the information and writing of the text that’s spidered. Not so with directories.

Directory submissions are reviewed by human beings, often volunteer editors with experience in specific areas. So, search engines delivery quantity – everything on a topic with 2-3 million possible links. Directories are more selective because their entries have to pass at least a minimum editorial review.

The Rules of Directory Submission
The biggest mistake new site owners make when submitting to directories is jumping the gun and submitting a site for review before the site is even completed and beta tested. When the editor sees a bunch of “Under Construction” pages, or worse, her laptop locks up every time she logs on to your site (a big bug) you aren’t going to be listed in that directory of quality sites.

So, Rule one: Do NOT submit your site to a directory until its completed, tested and working perfectly. Even better, wait until it appears on Google and Yahoo.

Rule number two: Don’t submit your entire, 200 page site for editorial review by the directory decision makers. Unlike search engines that index web pages (the more the better), directories index sites – good sites. So a directory editor doesn’t have to plow thorough 200 pages of product description. All s/he needs is the home page. And it should be a good one that describes the purpose of the site.

Which Directories Actually Work?
The biggest directory is the Open Directory Project ( DMOZ also happens to be the default directory for Google so, if you can get your site listed with the Open Directory Project (bookmarked on millions of computers), as a bonus, your site also appears in the Google Directory. Good deal.

The next mega-directory in which you want a listing is Yahoo’s behemoth. Like most directories, Yahoo’s provides various categories to assist users in finding facts fast.  Examples? Yahoo offers Education, Entertainment, Reference, Regional (sites), Science and so on.

If your site is really, really good, you might get picked up by one of Yahoo’s editors and listed in the directory. But, man, your site better be the best of the best. The alternative is to submit your site to the Yahoo Directory Submit Program and get listed for a fee – currently $299 annually.

Potential Problems with Any Directory
Because your site is reviewed by a human, human bias comes into play, unlike search engines that are mindless bots gobbling up letter strings. So, you might want your electronics site to appear in the computer section but the editor who reviews the site might feel it’s more appropriate in the audio gear site.

Most sites will listen to you and consider an appeal if you feel the editor is totally off the mark. But, it’s tough to pick your own category – especially if it in, any way, misrepresents the function or topic of your site. Forget it. It’s going to indexed the way the editor sees it.

Yahoo allows one appeal if you feel your site is misplaced in the directory. It must be received within 30 days of the acceptance/rejection notice. In your appeal, explain why you feel your site belongs in the directory by pointing out unique features, fresh, reliable content, good navigation and all of the other factors that go into a good web site.

Bad news coming up: You get one appeal with Yahoo. If you still don’t make it into the directory, or you’re mis-indexed, you’re out of luck and stuck for the next 12 months in a category that doesn’t adequately describe your site, unless you make costly, drastic site revisions. (An aside: even if you have a Yahoo store, you still pay the $299 bucks for a listing in the directory. Only you can determine if it’s worth the money.)

Industry and Association Indices
Do a web search for associations and you’ll discover thousands of opportunities to join an association related to your business. Most of these are free. They’re also great at delivering pre-qualified buyers who know something about your industry or products. Why? Because they accessed you through a directory rather than a search engine.

The Submission Process
It changes from directory to directory but most directories are going to ask for much of the same information:

a site title (not the URL but a descriptive title of what the site offers)

a brief (2-3 line) description of the topicality and scope of the site

a contact person with complete contact information

All of this information will be incorporated into a submission form that you complete so you don’t have to attach your business plan or a screen capture of your checkout.

Depending on the directory, you may be indexed in just a few hours or, in the case of Yahoo and DMOZ, it could take weeks. And here’s the tough part. In most cases, you’ll be notified if your site is accepted. You WON’T be notified if you don’t make the cut. So the only way to see how your site is doing to is to keep checking the directory and the categories where you requested your site appear.

It’s about as cheap as you can get when it comes to site promotion. All it takes is some of your time. But the return on your time (ROI) can be huge – especially if you’re picked up by other directories that like what they see.

So, go to it. Start with the Open Directory Project ( and Yahoo. Then, move on to directories related to your products or business activity. Again, the visitors who reach your site through directories know something about your industry so they’re more motivated to make a purchase. Always a good thing.

Directories are ideal for start-ups, NFPs and any site that’s undercapitalized, working with a non-existent marketing budget. All it takes is a few listings in a few key directories to turn your business around and start showing that profit you had in mind from the start.

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