Directories, directories, directories! We see them everywhere. Seems like a new one pops up every week. So as a web site owner/marketer, are they friend or foe? We will explore this in today’s featured article entitled “Directories: Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em”. I also have another great SEM/SEO Q&A session and a recap of some of the newsworthy events in the world of search engines. Let’s get on to it!
In this issue…
- SEM/SEO QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
- FEATURE ARTICLE – DIRECTORIES: LOVE ‘EM OR LEAVE ‘EM?
- SEARCH ENGINE HEADLINES
- CLOSING COMMENTS
SEM/SEO QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Here are some SEM/SEO related questions that I answered which were originally posted on forums of which I am part of the moderation team.
Q: Why do SE’s allow you to submit? Especially if (as the consensuses say) they don’t really like it when people submit their site in the first place?
A: My personal belief is that by having a URL submission function, the search engines avert thousands upon thousands of emails asking them how one gets included in their index.
Can you imagine how many emails Google gets each day from people asking questions like “has my web site been banned?”, “how come I don’t show up in the index?”, “why is this spammer on the first page?”, etc.? Now add to that all the email they’d receive if they did not provide an Add URL function? It would be a lot.
That is why I think that Google, Yahoo and MSN have Add URL pages. It is basically a necessary evil. Do they actually index those URLs that are added this way? I personally believe that they don’t but they have never admitted to it.
Q: I understand that the end goal is to optimize the entire site, but where do you usually start? On the product pages where the keyword text will more often be most relevant, or do you just go from page to page alphabetically in a standard roll through of the site, or perhaps do you look at the site stats and then optimize the most popular entry pages/most viewed pages?
A: As far as optimizing pages, I always start with the home page but from there it will depend on a variety of factors such as the client’s budget, whether the site is static or has a CMS, whether the site is a e-commerce site with a product database, etc.
The usual strategy is to identify specific pages and/or sections that can then be optimized for the keyword phrases they are targeting. With small sites, this can be done all at once but with larger sites, I think it is a ongoing process because even when you get to the point where you have “optimized the entire site”, new pages can be added, the optimization strategy can be tweaked, keyword selection can be modified, etc.
Q: We have decided to code 2 sites (Flash and Non-flash) and we were wondering IF we would get penalized in anyway (i.e. two sites similar content on 1 URL?)
A: Is the Flash site “all Flash” or is it html with Flash inserts? If the latter, yes you will have duplicate content which is fine with Google but could generate a penalty with Yahoo. If the latter is the case then I would exclude crawlers from accessing it with a robots.txt file. If it is “all Flash” then there is no need to worry because in that case you do not have several pages of duplicate html text on the site.
Q: Are site maps important when it comes to obtaining good search engine rankings. Seems to me I remember reading a thread that said something about this, but can not find it.
If they are important/ helpful, what are some tips on creating a good one?
A: If you have a rather large site, they can be good for both search engines and end users in providing a categorized map to all your pages.
A well organized site map that is accessible from the home page will allow search engines to not only find the map but then find all the other pages that are linked from it. A site map can also allow you to utilize anchor text that is related to each page.
FEATURE ARTICLE – DIRECTORIES: LOVE ‘EM OR LEAVE ‘EM?
Web directories have been with us since the early nineties when the Internet really began to take off with the birth of the World Wide Web (the graphical portion of the Internet). Yahoo! was one of the original directories and although they have now evolved into a full blown search engine, they still have their directory in place. In the last year we have seen what seems to be an invasion of new directories popping up all over the place. This leads one to question whether directories are still useful? Do people still use them to search? Can they provide any marketing benefit to your web site? These are some of the questions we will explore.
Web Directory vs. Search Engine
First a quick refresher on the difference between directories and search engines. Directories differ 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 or category. Most directories have search functionality but the websites are still listed in specific categories.
As far as inclusion of your web site, typically a search engine will find your site on its own whereas with a directory, you have to submit your site for inclusion. Sometimes the process of getting into a search engine’s index results from their crawler finding your site listed in a directory.
Do People Search By Directories Anymore?
Should we worry about making sure our sites are listed in directories? Do people still use directories or go straight to a search engine such as Google to find what they are looking for? To answer this question, I went to my server logs which track all activity on my sites. As I expected, the majority of traffic coming to my web sites was from search engines, but to my surprise I did see some directory referrals as well. They were not in great numbers but all the same they were still there.
Therefore I would say directory inclusion, at least in the free directories, is important because they may send you some traffic. It may not be in great quantities but with the ever
increasing competition on the web, I’ll take traffic from wherever I can get it. Besides if it is free, why not take a few moments to submit your site?
The Disappearance of Free Directories
Free directories are becoming more scarce all the time. Most are now requiring some kind of fee for inclusion whether that be a one time fee or some kind of recurring fee. We have to ask ourselves then if it is worthwhile to pay these fees or should we just forget about paid directories altogether?
For the little bit of traffic they may bring you I would say no. However, there are additional benefits a good directory can provide. The first benefit would be to brand new sites that are trying to gain inclusion into the indices of the top search engines and the second is that they will contribute to your site’s overall link popularity score.
Directories Help New Sites
It is often asked if one should submit their site to Google, Yahoo and MSN, all of which have pages where you can submit your URL. However this is not the most effective way to get a brand new site into these top engines. In fact, I personally believe that the only reason these three engines have an ‘Add URL’ page at all is simply so they will not get bombarded with e-mail requests for inclusion. Ask Jeeves doesn’t even have an ‘Add URL’ page. Neither does the smaller search engine WiseNut.
What is one of the most effective ways then to get listed in the top search engines? Get listed in one of the top directories. All the major engines I mentioned beforehand crawl directories and when they crawl them, then find new web sites to add to their index. This is their preferred way of finding new sites.
So if you have a brand new web site, submit it to some of the top directories, both free and paid and you will find that your site will soon afterwards be included in the top search engines as well.
Directories Help Build Link Popularity
What is this “link popularity” anyway and why do you need it? Link popularity is a score that is accessed to a web site based on how many external and internal links are pointing or linking to any particular page. External links would include those that come from any other web site other than your own whereas internal links would be those that come from within the same domain name. Link popularity is also based not only on the “quantity” of links but the “quality” of those links as well. Therefore to have a good link popularity score, it is not necessarily required to have a large number of links pointing to your site but rather a good number of quality links.
This is where directories can help. Many of the top directories that I will mention shortly have good link popularity that can be passed on to your site. They also have specific category pages that are related to the nature of your site. In a day and age where link popularity is becoming more important in order to be found in a search engine, directories are a fairly inexpensive way to increase your own link popularity.
“Can’t I just ask other web site owners to link to my site or exchange links with me?” Sure you can but this can be a very tedious and cumbersome task. First there is the time-consuming task of finding other quality and relevant sites to seek links from. Then there is the reality that most link requests go unanswered. I get tons every month that are simply deleted. “But if I build a great site, won’t others naturally link to it?” Maybe they will but how does one get to the point where they have a great site and to where it is “out there” so people can find it? A lot of hard work!
Therefore I firmly believe that directories can be foundational for building link popularity and a very important reason why a web site owner should make sure they are included in them. It is a step in your marketing that you can easily control. It is a task that can be completed quickly and then you can move on to other things.
There are not many free directories left. Some of the ones I am listing below require that you become a volunteer editor in order to submit sites for free. Otherwise they charge a fee. Here they are.
- AbiLogic - Free directory that usually includes sites within one month. They also have paid options which can speed up the process.
- Gimpsy – Free directory that only includes sites that are some how interactive. In other words, the site has to allow a person to do something like watch a video, take a survey, shop for a product, etc. They also have a paid option that speeds up the process of inclusion.
- JoeAnt - Free if you are a volunteer editor. Otherwise the cost is $39.99 to submit a site for inclusion.
- NetInsert - Free directory in which you insert a meta tag on your home page, NetInsert then recognizes that tag and automatically places you in the category associated with it. A very neat concept but I imagine over time the directory will become filled with spam.
- Open Directory – The last true free directory. You cannot pay to be included. Downside to this is that it can take a long, long time to get included. It all depends on who the volunteer editor is of the category you submit to. Some editors are very active but most are not. My advice is to submit to Open Directory and then forget about it.
- Skaffe – Free if you are a volunteer editor. Otherwise the cost is $39.99 to submit a site for inclusion.
- SiteRanking.com – Free directory but requires a reciprocal link.
- Web-Beacon – Free if you are a volunteer editor. Otherwise the cost is $39.99 to submit a site for inclusion.
- Web World – Free directory that can take up to 6 months before your site is included. They also offer a paid option to speed up the process.
- WoW – Free directory that also has paid options. WoW is one of the best directories for free inclusion because they are very quick to review and include your site. You just better make sure you submit according to their specific rules or it will be deleted.
There are many, many directories that you can pay for inclusion but I am only going to list what I feel are the current top twelve. These directories have good PageRank on their main index pages and on many inner category pages. They also have a wide range of categories so that it is easy to find one that is relevant to your business. Here they are.
- Arielis Web Directory – $25.00 one time fee.
- Best of the Web – $39.95 annually recurring fee. Great PageRank on interior pages.
- BlueFind – $49.95 one time fee.
- Business.com – $199 annually recurring fee. The top B2B directory on the Internet.
- GoGuides.org – Requires paid membership which then dictates how many sites you can submit. $39.95/mo. allows you to submit up to 20 web sites a month; $29.95/mo. allows you to submit up to 10 web sites a month; $19.95/mo. allows you to submit up to 5 web site a month.
- Microsoft bCentral SBD – $49.00 annually recurring fee.
- SevenSeek – $40.00 one time fee. Great PageRank on interior pages.
- Site-Sift – $24.95 one time fee.
- SunSteam – $45.00 one time fee.
- Uncover the Net – $39.00 one time fee. Great PageRank on interior pages.
- Yahoo – $299 annually recurring fee.
In summary, directories are still a very viable aspect to successful online marketing. Take advantage of them and you will soon realize their benefits. If you would like to learn more about how to submit to directories, I would invite you to read Proper Directory Submissions, a two part series I authored a while back on the process of submitting to directories.
Written by David Wallace
Shameless Plug: If you want to get listed in these top directories that I mentioned in this article but would like a professional service, please visit our Directory Submissions section where we have affordable packages that will include your site in all these top directories.
SEARCH ENGINE HEADLINES
Here are some of the latest headlines related to the search engine industry.
InterActiveCorp Buys Ask Jeeves For $1.85 Billion
InterActiveCorp announced Monday that it has agreed to a $1.85 billion buyout of Ask Jeeves, a search engine that has long been overshadowed by Google and Yahoo.
Google Loses French Trademark Appeal (link no longer active)
A French appeals court upheld a ruling against Google’s advertising policy in a decision published Wednesday, ordering the Internet search engine to pay euro75,000 (US$100,300) in damages to two companies whose trademarks it infringed.
Marketers React to Yahoo! AdSense Alternative
Many marketers would welcome Yahoo!’s launch of a contextual ad network for smaller publishers — providing it’s different from Google’s AdSense program.
After 10 Years, Yahoo Still Searching
David Filo remembers the days in 1994 when he and fellow Stanford University doctoral candidate Jerry Yang would get together with friends to conjure up big ideas for making a business out of the Internet.
Well that is all I have today. Hope you enjoyed the newsletter and that you will take advantage of what directories can offer your web site.
This month is special for two reasons. First of all, our company turns 8 years old this month. While that is not a long time for a company, it is ancient as far as Internet marketing companies go. Secondly and more importantly, this month I will be celebrating my 14th wedding anniversary with my lovely wife, Irma. Seems like just yesterday we were saying our vows and on our honeymoon. Time does fly when you are having fun. She has given me 14 wonderful years and I look forward to many, many more as we grow old together. Thank you, Irma!
Have a great April and I will see you next month!