Web directories are definitely not what they once were, however, we have witnessed the evolution of directories and websites that play that role in a modern setting – with significant success.
Think Yelp or TripAdvisor. These websites are directories of sorts, and they’ve grown enormously from their ability to provide intelligent, useful information (or value) to the user. On the other hand, there have been instances where we’ve seen Google pull down or demote dozens (if not hundreds) of directories that have no real value, while others are left to function freely.
Yet, there are not many things a new blogger can do (on a small budget) to gain that required initial visibility to go from there.
Can web directories still be an option for a new site?
When the internet started to expand in the late 1990s, a lot of users found it difficult to locate information about specific subjects. Search functions were a lot less developed then and it was a challenge to obtain results for specific keywords (even Google didn’t have a streamlined system for displaying relevant results back in 2000). So in order to give users broad access to information on a variety of subjects, web directories were set up.
Initially, there wasn’t much competition and the first directories received high rankings and lots of visibility. At the same time advertisers started appreciating the potential of directories for setting up a business model for their operators that financed itself. In addition, web directories offered new opportunities for SEOs who posted their articles with strong backlinks.
Getting a website listed in a directory used to be a sure path to web traffic and success. However, all this changed as search engines developed, and since 2012 when Google released Penguin, the value of article directories dropped significantly – particularly in relation to link building.
How to still get value from directories?
Think traffic and reputation management, not link juice, DA, and all sorts of terms I cannot stand. Check those directories on social media (are they active? Are they up-to-date? Are there other people talking about them?) and get an idea of their web traffic through tools like Alexa, SimilarWeb or a more web analyzers
Any web directory that is created for the sole purpose of helping you boost your ranking should be avoided. If they have a list that is genuinely designed to help people, then search engines will treat them well as well.
Here are trusted directories with solid traffic that are able to direct leads to your blog:
- BOTW – They offer the same service but for a fee. Once a link is submitted and payment is made, they manually review it and only include it in their directory when they’re satisfied it meets their level of quality.
- Curlie (former DMOZ) – is an open-content free directory that is managed by editors in a community called Open Directory Project. These volunteers are impartial and take time to review each submitted link before they only put it in their directory if it meets or exceeds their criteria.
- DirJournal – A web directory that has been in the industry for years featuring business listings as well as several topic based blogs. Several payment plans are available. Bear in mind that payment is not a guarantee of acceptance.
- Jasmine Directory – Another great web directory with great metrics. You won”t find as many listings as in other directories but linking to NYTimes or various universities it”s a clear sign that they add resources manually as well, as they state they do.
- Alive Directory – one of the oldest web directories out there, it has a rigid editorial discretion and an intuitive layout. As a webmaster or business owner, you can submit your website to general or topic based industry categories.
- Aviva Directory – most webmasters must of heard about this directory. A few years ago, in the “Alive and Aviva” era, the blogosphere featured these two directories heavily. Many webmasters reported positive SERP signals by having their websites included in Aviva Directory.
Find niche directories
In general, the more specific a directory is, the more valuable it is. This isn’t always the case, however you’re more likely to find what you’re looking for if you go through a niche directory. For instance, if you search through a directory dedicated to chemical engineering, or other specific field, any listings you find will most likely be of high value.
Niche directories can be huge, especially there’s some non-profit organization or an active community behind one. A few great examples of niche directories which are worth every effort include:
- Biolinks: All about biology, this is a great directory founded by BIOZONE, an international publishing house based in New Zealand, with offices in the US, United Kingdom and Australia.
- Startup Inspire: a great directory offering exposure to new businesses and websites
- Game Top Sites: a solid directory listing lots of gaming blogs and apps. If you are launching soon, here is a solid list of directories to get listed.
- Alternative To: This one specializes in technology, SaaS and apps. Get your site listed if you want to be found when someone is searching for your competitor
You need to start somewhere and getting listed in solid directories is your first step to leaving footprint on the web and start building visibility.
When you think about it, the criteria we’ve used to determine whether a directory is effort-worthy is basically the same criteria that makes any website valuable to the user (and this value easily translates into high rankings). Even if you don’t see the immediate value of directories, there’s no harm in using them as one more tool in your campaign to gain exposure.
Spend enough time crafting each submission. Take time on your website description, title, and any other information that you think may be of value or that your link requires.