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Directories and their importance for search engine rankings

Note: Updates to this article: Directories and their importance for search engine rankings

About directories:

A directory is simply a web site that contains a categorized listing of links from around the web. They aid surfers to locate the 'best' and most informative links for a particular category. For example a category may be called 'Home and Garden' and in this category there is list of links about home improvement and gardening. Directories consist of a collection of categories into which links are seperated. Categories can have sub-categories to make the division of links more specific.

If you read my link popularity article you will learn why directories are important tools in building link popularity and as a result help improve search engine ranking. They are an excellent source of inbound, one-way links, which are the most powerful types of links to help build link popularity.

There are a multitude of varied directories on the web at present. They range from general directories that include categories for almost everything, to specific directories that contain categories to match specific area/s of interest e.g. web sites about fishing. It is helpful to get your web site listed in as many directories as possible as this will help you beat the competition in rankings.

Getting your link listed varies between directories as each has their own different process. Some directories require a fee but most do not. A lot of directories offer a mixture between free and paid listing. When you pay to get your link listed in a directory it is normally added within a week and it is guaranteed to be added. On the flipside a directory offer a free listing can take anywhere from a week to several months to add your link, and also there is no guarantee that the link will be added.

Some directories use other approaches to get your link listed. For example the Joeant directory ( requires you to register as an editor in order to submit a link. The Zeal directory ( also requires you to register as a member but first you must complete and pass a 20 question quiz to prove your worthiness.

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Directories to submit to:

Getting listed in quality directories such as DMOZ or Yahoo can be more beneficial for your link popularity than a lot of links from smaller, newer directories. It is therefore useful to know which to submit to. The following is a listing of some of the higher quality directories:


The most important directory that exists on the web today. Getting listing in this directory is critical if you aim to achieve top rankings..

  • Listing - Free

  • Time to get listed - 1 to 6 months, maybe even longer

Yahoo Directory

After DMOZ, probably the next most powerful directory to get listed in.

  • Listing - Free or paid

  • Time to get listed - Free inclusion can take several months, paid inclusion a few days

Zeal & Looksmart

These two directories are very closely related as Looksmart owns Zeal.

  • Listing - Zeal: Free for non-commercial sites (sites can only be submitted after passing a 20 question quiz) but paid for commercial sites.
    Looksmart: Paid

  • Time to get listed - Zeal: Free inclusion can take 1-2 months, paid inclusion a few days
    Looksmart: A few days


JoeAnt is a directory that is growing in popularity.


Operates differently to other directories. Web sites are organized according to question asked.

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Information needed to submit to directories:

When submitting a link to a directory you will more than likely be asked to provide the following information about your web site:

  • URL
  • Title
  • Description
  • Keywords that describe it

One thing I recommend that you do before submitting is to prepare this information in advance and to use the same information when submitting to all directories. As much as possible place keyphrases that describe your web site into the Title text and Description text you submit, especially into the Title text (this is known as anchor text optimization).

When a directory asks you to provide keywords that describe your web site it uses these keywords to locate your site when someone performs a search within the directory. So for example if I submit the keyword 'lawn' I have a better of chance of being listed in the directory's search results when someone searches within it using the keyword 'lawn'. However focus more on writing keyphrase-rich Title and Description entries than Keywords when submitting.

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Tips when submitting to directories:
  • Submit your link to the most appropriate category
    Every directory will tell you this as it makes their job easier when it comes around to listing your link. This point should be stressed though as it not only makes the directory editor's job a little easier therefore speeding up your listing, but also the search engines will look at the other links that surround you on the page you are listed on and if they are of a similar theme to your own this can boost your rankings.

  • Be patient
    One point to remember about directories that provide a free listing, be patient. If you are not paying to be in the directory then your link listing has a lower priority than paid listings. It can take several months to get into some directories so it can be frustrating. The best thing to do when you submit is to put it out of your mind.

  • Keep a log
    One of the most useful things to do upon submitting to a directory is to write the name of the directory and the date of submission into a log of some sort (try an Excel sheet). This prevents you from submitting to a directory more than once (keeping the editors happy) and gives you the satisfaction that you are getting something done. When your link gets listed in the directory mark it off in your log. Job well done!

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Submitting your link to directories is an excellent way to build your web site's link popularity and improve search engine rankings. There are many directories out there, ranging from the general to the specific, each with their own link submission processes. Prepare keyphrase-rich text that accurately describes your web site to submit to the directories. Choose the most appropriate category for your web site before submitting.

Submitting to directories requires a little effort and a lot of patience. Your search engine rankings will thank you for the extra effort.

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