So it seems that the answer to whether web directories are still effective in the 2020’s as a website promotion tool is – it depends. For the vast majority of directories, it’s not worth the effort to submit your site. In fact, some marketers would recommend that you avoid them.
It may be worth being listed in about 1% (or less) of the directory sites currently on the web. Of those, some will have greater value than others.
To promote a site successfully, you need to be able to find the good ones.
Types of Web/Link Directories
In your search for directories to add your site, you may come across a range of directories with different geographic, topical and functional goals:
- Business Directory – conventional listing of businesses (also known as company directory)
- General Directory – mixed listings of websites, businesses, useful resources, blogs etc
- Niche Directory – focused on specific topics ie Gardening Directory, Sports/Soccer Directory, Marketing Directory etc
- Local Directory – targeted on a geographical region, country or city
- Web/Link Directory – a directory where listings all have links (ie websites) rather than directory listings that do not necessarily have links (ie postal addresses, people’s names etc)
Ultimately, they all serve a similar purpose and one type isn’t particularly better than another.
It is the integrity of the content/listings that differentiate the free-for-all sites from the quality controlled guides that are human edited.
How to Identify a Decent Directory
In the Web 1.0 days of the 1990’s, websites was mass submitted to as many directories as possible. In the 2020’s, it’s all about being very picky to get an intentional link.
It’ll be hard to find, cost more than you expected and only be one of countless things you need to do to promote a site, but it’ll be a link worth having.
To find the right web directories, the first step is to focus on quality and relevance:
- Top Quality – there’s no compromise, you only want to be listed in good directories that are worth getting into. Among other things, this normally means they’re human edited, and more often than not, you’ll have to pay.
- Highly Relevant – relevance is extremely important. This is why industry related and localized directories are some of the best links a site can have. Within a general directory, make sure you’re listed in a suitable category.
The ability to assess the quality of a directory is a critical part of finding appropriate directories to get listings.
There are 3 key areas to analyze – the directory’s SEO metrics, the quality of its listings and how it is indexed in Google:
#1 Strong SEO Metrics
To find a decent directory, you should analyze its SEO metrics (ie Domain Authority, Referral Domains, Google indexation etc).
There are various widely accepted metrics used to gauge and compare the quality of websites:
- Page Rank (PR): Page Rank is a link analysis system used by Google to measure the importance of a web page. It is very outdated and no longer accurate or used.
- Domain Authority (DA): Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking metric created by Moz (a leading SEO company) as a more accurate measure to replace PageRank.
- Domain Rating (DR): Domain Rating (DR) is the latest and most reliable search ranking metric developed by AHREFs (the industry leading SEO tool).
- Referral Domains (RD): The total number of domain names with links to a web page or domain.
- Total Backlinks: The total number of links to a web page or domain name.
- and other more specific ones such as Trust Flow, Citation Flow
A directory’s domain name related scores can be used as a broad, high level indication of quality. To get a more detailed confirmation, you will need to dig into its page level metrics and link profile.
#2 Good Listings
A quick way to assess quality is to simply take a look at what sites are listed in a directory:
- Quality Sites: Properly curated directories will try to have the best websites for each category. You can get a good idea by going through some topics you’re familiar with to see if you know any of the sites listed.
- Relevant Listings: Sites should be correctly listed in the right categories and be suitable for the directory’s focus (especially for niche/local directories).
- Inappropriate Listings: Needless to say, shady or questionable sites are a warning sign. Even if they are willing to pay to be included, a human editor will spot and reject them.
This process may be subjective. Don’t rule out a directory just because it doesn’t contain all the top websites for a particular category.
Instead, try to spot the ones to avoid.
#3 Indexed in Google
There are directories that could have decent metrics and respectable listings but they may not be indexed in Google properly. This is a big red flag.
It is important to get listed on (and hence a link from) a directory/category that can be found in the search engines.
This can be easily checked by entering a “site:directoryname.com” search [without the speech marks””] into Google.
In the search results page:
- You should see all the web pages from this directory that Google feels is worthy of being included in its listings.
- If there are no listings returned, that means the directory has been de-indexed for engaging in bad practices and doesn’t have any value anymore.
- Ideally, the category page you plan to get listed in should be indexed in Google too.
- If there are very few category pages indexed or if there are only a handful of results, this may be an indication that something’s not quite right.
To most webmasters, bloggers and online marketers, this will sound extremely complicated. Others may be surprised at the amount of effort needed just to get a link.
Very few website promoters will invest so much time to evaluate directories when submitting sites. That is why they will get ineffective listings and then conclude that web directory submissions don’t work anymore.
Hopefully, you are now clear about how useful directory links are hard to find.
Once you’ve found them, make sure you submit your site correctly to get an approved listing in the right place and with the link you want. Find out more in our guide on how to make a successful web directory submission.
This article is part of WebsitePromote’s Guide to using Web Directories for SEO & Website Promotion.
- PART 1: Are Web Directories still Effective in the 2020’s
- PART 2: How to Find Good Web Directories
- PART 3: How to Submit & Get Listed in Quality Directories
- PART 4: Directory Submission Services – too Good to be True?