Proper Directory Submissions - Part I
Part of the overall process of submitting one's website to the search engines is getting your site listed in the top directories. Directories are different from standard search engines in that a search
engine will query a database of indexed websites before it produces results and a directory is a database of websites that have been arranged by subject. Directories do indeed have search functions but
the websites are still listed in specific categories of which one may search by drilling through the various subjects the directory offers.
Therefore, the submission process to a directory differs from that of submitting to regular crawler based search engines. With a regular search engine, one will submit their home page URL and then their crawler will visit that site as well as follow other links it finds from the home page, forming its own title and description of each page. A directory does not work this way. They do not crawl your website and they are not able to decipher the content of the site. Rather one will select the most appropriate category related to the subject matter of the site and then submit, suggesting a title, description and any other information the directory may require. This is why it is very important to submit correctly the first time. Not only will if affect the way the site will appear when people are searching but it is often times difficult to get it changed at a later date.
The format for submitting will work with most directories but we will also look at some specific requirements of directories as well. While there are many directories on the Internet, we will only be exploring the top ones here which are Yahoo!, Looksmart, The Open Directory, Gimpsy, GoGuides.org, IllumiRate, JoeAnt, Skaffe, Web-Beacon, WebSavvy, Web World, Wherewithal/Xoron, WoW and Zeal. First let us look at how to properly submit in general and then look at some specific requirement at each directory listed above.
Now before we begin, it will be assumed that you have already optimized your site for good positioning on the crawler-based engines. This will help us in category selection as well as what title and description to use when submitting. If you have not yet optimized your website, you'll need to do so.
The first step is to select the most appropriate category. For an example, we will use a site that we own and operate called "Arizona Builders' Zone." To select a category, you will first need to know which keywords or phrases (combination of keywords) are most important or relevant to your business. For our example site, the most important phrases that we want to target are as follows:
Sure we can target many others, but these are the most important in regards to this site. Also keep in mind that with a directory you are limited to having one page (usually your home page) included. There are rare cases where a directory will include other pages of your site in different categories but this does not happen often. It is also important to understand that in the search engine optimization (SEO) process, one can really only effectively promote two to three keyword phrases at the most for each page of the website.
To select a category, simply go to the directory you want to submit to and conduct a search using your most important keywords or phrases. You will then see one or more categories displayed along with in some cases actual websites that are listed in those categories. If more than one category is listed, you can explore each one and view the websites that are listed there. If you have competitors listed there, then you most likely want to be listed as well. The bottom line is to submit to the category that is best related to your business.
Once you locate a category, log it somewhere. This is so you can go back at a later date and see if your site was listed or not. With some directories you will receive an email response on whether your site was listed or not providing that you supply a valid email address when submitting. With others, you will have to manually check to see if your site is listed which is why it is a good practice to make a note of which directories you submitted to as well as to which categories.
Now that you have located the proper category, you will look for a link somewhere on the page that will take you to a submission form. Most directories will work this way. Some will have a standard submission form that you then have to supply a path to the category you want to be listed in, but none of the ones we are dealing with in this article work that way.
The three basic things that most directories will ask for is a title, description and maybe a list of keywords. These are the three elements we will cover.
With crawler-based search engines, it is common practice to include you keywords in your title tag. For example, The Arizona Builders' Zone has the following title tag:
<title>Arizona Contractors, Construction, Home Improvement and Real Estate Resources - Arizona Builders' Zone</title>
You can see that we have our three most important phrases represented but we will not submit the same thing to a directory. Instead, only submit the company or website name. In this case it would be "Arizona Builders' Zone." With a directory, we are dealing with the human element meaning that an actual human will be reviewing your site, deciding whether or not it will be included in the directory as well as what its title and description will be. Directories only want either the company or website name listed. If you submit the title as "Arizona Contractors, Construction, Home Improvement and Real Estate Resources - Arizona Builders' Zone" the editor will either change it to the company name or worse delete it because you did not follow the rules. Remember that most of these editors are volunteers and have to deal with many submissions, a lot of which are spam. So make their life as easy as possible by submitting in the proper way.
A lot of times one will simply copy the meta description tag and submit that to the directory. However this is not the recommended thing to do as some editors will reject it because they want you to come up with an original description; one that is of a unbiased third-person view rather than a sales pitch. They are looking for descriptions that inform one of what the site contains or is about rather than something like, "We are the best!", or "A leader in..." and so forth and so on.
For our example site, we have already written not only a description that is used in the meta description tag but one for directories as well and have included it in the html of the home page in the form of a comment tag. This provides an easy reference for us when submitting to directories and because it is in the form of a comment tag, crawler-based search engines will not pick it up.
Here is the difference between the two descriptions, the first being the meta description tag and the second being the "directory friendly" description:
"The largest directory of Arizona builders, contractors and home improvement companies plus resources and information on the Arizona construction and real estate industry."
"A directory of builders, contractors and home improvement companies in Arizona. Offers resources and information on the Arizona construction and real estate industry."
The differences are subtle but enough to make it original and it does not make any boasts such as "The largest directory..." This is the description that we would submit to a directory whereas the meta description tag is the description that a crawler based search engine will pick up. You can write a description in the same way and then place it in a comment tag in between the <head> and </head> tag in your html. When submitting your site, simply select "View Source" from your browser's tool bar, and the code is right there.
If you submit your description keeping these principles in mind, it is most likely that the editor will not change it. If you find after your site is listed that the editor re-wrote your description in a way that is not to your liking, then you will have to try to contact them through an email link or resubmit hoping they will see your changes. Odds are though that if you submit a good description in the first place, they will leave it be.
Sometimes a directory will allow you to submit a list of keywords. If they do, simply submit a short list of single keywords separated by a space. Do not submit an exhaustive list of repetitive phrases as they will most likely be rejected. You can list these as a comment tag right under the comment tag for your "directory friendly" description in your code. For our example site, it looks like this:
<!-- arizona builder builders construction licensed contractor contractors home improvement real estate licensing -->
As you can see it is short and each word is listed only once. The only directories mentioned in this article that allow you to submit keywords are IllumiRate, WebSavvy, Web Word and Wherewithal/Xoron. This is as far as we will cover this subject because it is really not that vital to the success of your directory submissions.
Article written by David Wallace (August 2003; updated June 2004)
About the Author:
David Wallace is CEO and founder of SearchRank, an original search engine optimization and marketing firm providing keyword analysis, organic search engine optimization, link popularity enhancement, pay per click management, search engine friendly web design and ongoing campaign maintenance.