Best Web Directories in 2016

While there is no shortage in the number of existing web directories at the moment, finding one that hasn’t been chalked down to a mere “link scheme” can be daunting. So what are the best web directories online business owners should use in 2016? Web directories can significantly impact on your online visibility by directing a healthier flow of traffic to your site and also improving your search engine rankings. On the flip side, there are numerous illegitimate web directories, most of which farm links from more reputable directories (DMOZ is a commonly targeted directory), which can potentially ruin you.

Matt Cutts on Choosing a Quality Web Directory

Matt Cutts is the head of the web spam department at Google. He explains in a blog post and a short video which criteria should be used when selecting a reliable web directory.


In a nutshell, Matt highlights the following points:

Choosing the best web directories are important since Google tends to favor them in 2016 as well. Submitting to a directory is therefore advisable but there are a number of things you should know about the directory beforehand.

These are:

  • The level of discretion employed by the directory when approving new links.
  • The number of urls contained in the directory.
  • The quality of urls contained in the directory, and
  • Is there a fee?

To elaborate further, Matt advises us to stay away from web directories who exercise little to no editorial discretion when it comes to approving links. In addition to rarely rejecting any submissions, these directories often let you choose exactly where you want to categorize the site. These types of spammy web directories are the ones Matt and his team penalize, usually by lowering their toolbar page rank.

Criteria for Choosing this Best Web Directories 2016 list

Other than the level of editorial discretion used by a website, Google often tends to favor web directories that list top notch websites, strictly review submitted texts and also possess solid guidelines. When looking for a reliable Google compliant web directory, there are a few dos and don’ts that should be adhered to.

The Dos

  • Always pick quality over everything else. This is always a good litmus test to indicate the proficiency of a web directory and their level of editorial discretion.
  • Go for a web directory that rejects some submissions. Once again, the editorial discretion of a website will tell you a lot about their general standards.
  • Use online tools and plug-ins to measure the quality of various directories. The MOZ bar is by far the best and is available as an add-on on both Chrome and Mozilla browsers.

The Don’ts

  • Do not go for a web directory simply because it is old. Their age does not necessarily vouch for their worthiness or legitimacy for that fact.
  • The Page Rank of directories is no longer a reliable source when it comes to choosing directories, look for Alexa ranking, Domain authority and so on.
  • Steer clear from directories that allow the use of superlatives and marketing or promotional text. These include “best”, “leading”, “number one” et cetera. Objective content is often the mark of a proficient web directory.

That said, there are more than a few websites out there that are Google compliant. However, in terms of content quality, editorial discretion, usability and even aesthetics, these 5 web directories prove to be worth every last penny.

So, there we go:

1. Best of the Web (BOTW)

Since its inception in 1994, BOTW has been a fairly consistent and reputable web directory. One of its best qualities is its very useful and high quality content. This is a clear indication that the site has top-notch editors constantly seeding the categories and updating the content.

In terms of aesthetic appearance, the design of the BOTW oozes subtle sophistication. While it is not shouty or flashy, the simple design stands out as one that has been created using superior web directory software.

On the quality control front, BOTW drops the ball a little in terms of poor and/or inaccurate site listings with scanty descriptions and a notable lack of useful keywords. While a few bloopers such as these might be forgiven, these skimpy, keyword starved descriptions seem to be the norm on that turf.

On the plus side, BOTW has displayed unwavering integrity throughout its 22 years of operation. It is currently priced at $299 per year for a permanent listing for commercial purposes.


Perhaps the only reason DMOZ might stand on a higher pedestal than other web directories is because of its massive size. The web directory is perhaps the largest on the internet.

The aesthetic design is as simple as you would expect a directory that has largely remained unchanged since 1998 to look like. On the plus side, this minimized appearance does not take up your entire screen so usability is enhanced. Other than the colorful lettering used in the “Kids and Teens” category, the rest of the categories take on a monochromatic one-worded title.

The greatest plus side of this giant directory is its extremely user-friendly design. Its categorical structure is easy to browse through and also includes useful divisions of up to three subcategories. Although the site descriptions could use a little boost, the general consensus is that DMOZ is one of the best in terms of usability.

Although the Achilles heel of the site is the use of fragmented sentences rather than grammatically correct sentences in their site descriptions, it is quite an overlookable flaw especially when you consider the fact that the directory is free.

3. Jasmine Directory

Jasmine Directory takes home the trophy when it comes to aesthetic design. Not only does it use an attractive denim background in its header, the directory also makes use of anti-flash colors such as white and light gray with soothing blue or black texts. And to totally responsive. Tested it on my Ipad, looks awesome both in portrait and landscape mode. This makes it very comfortable to use.

Appearances aside, the web directory exhibits marvelous intuitiveness in category name choices. Although very effective on its own, this is further supplemented by a very accurate and impactful use of @links together with above the line and below the line features. The categorical placement of sites within the directory is admirable and it also boasts of a sensible taxonomy.

To compensate for the low number of outgoing links, the site carries enough quality content to make it very useful. Category and site descriptions are excellent with good, grammatically correct sentences and a sufficient use of the required keywords. The web directory also includes active blogs that cover a wide range of topics.

On a listing details page users can find a Google Map embedded address of the approved business, a permanent thumbnail, the main URLm phone/fax and more.

Despite being the youngest web directory in this list (established in 2009), Jasmine Directory is well on its way to becoming one of the most resourceful web directories on the internet. It is priced at a low $49/$79 for a lifetime listing.

4. Aviva Directory

Powered by PHP Link Directory Software, Aviva boasts of the most impressive display of aesthetics compared to all the other web directories on the internet. The bulk of its top-level categories features compounds which are separated by an ampersand and this could be the reason for the flawless appearance of the site.

The taxonomy of the directory is well thought out and better executed. One notable thing is the unique difference of the layout from that of the Open Directory Project, which makes Aviva set itself apart from a large number of directories. @links are present where they are supposed to be and nowhere else.

Despite the skimpy site descriptions, you cannot fault the site for its marvelous use of non-spammed keywords and grammatically correct sentences instead of fragments. Sites are listed accurately under the appropriate categories, most of which are deeper than you will find in most web directories.

Aviva is a well maintained directory and you will be hard pressed to find any dead links or empty categories. The standard charges are $45.95 per year while the Express charges are a one-time fee of $149.95.

5. DIR Journal

Although the aesthetic appearance of DIR Journal is nothing to write home about, it is still sufficient enough to be termed as above par and to enhance the usability of the site.

The directory features an incredible taxonomy that comprises of well thought out category names and an excellent use of @links and above and below the line features. Save for the regional tree, all the categories have been informatively described.

The directory carries enough content to prove more than useful. The site titles and descriptions are a significant upgrade from the expected skimpy or fragmented descriptions used by other web directories.

Overall, the web directory deserves a spot at the podium as one of the best out there. It is well maintained, has high quality content and also features extra content and some useful tools for webmasters. It is currently priced at $59.95 a year or a one-time fee of $159.95 a year.

So, in my opinion (I also talked to some fellows working at some reputable SEO agencies).

The web directory industry does not seem to be slowing down whatsoever, and this is good news for those looking to make use of the rapidly growing directory bandwagon. Picking your directory carefully could mean a world of difference to your site.

If you have any questions, please ask below!