In the last couple years, there was an intense debate regarding the usefulness of web directories. A few years ago, anyone on a low budget could submit a website to (say) 50 web directories and a decent traffic as well as Page Rank was assured.
Since Google changed the whole process of back-link acquisition years ago, all those “PR6 directory, submit now!!!” directories lost their utility because some of them were banned by Google, others just dropped and so on. Basically web directories that accept any website after the submitter pays a review fee are spam directories. Why am I saying this? Well, if anyone can get it, regardless of the submitted resource quality, what’s the utility of a directory?
We saw dozens of duplicate directories, directory networks and there is no wonder Google tries to limit the potential of such directories. Matt Cutts, the Google Spam cop, highlighted in a video that “Paid directories ARE in fact held to the same standards as paid links. Many paid directories have no other goal that to collect money as part of a linking scheme, and therefore have visible PR demotions and more as a result of these patterns. Other, higher quality directories, have more stringent editorial guidelines and do not accept all sites. The higher the editorial oversight, the more trusted these directories are by Google.”
So, it’s simple: if a web directory has a qualified team to add websites as resources based on high editorial guidelines, Google still trusts those directories.
However, a good web directory involves a specific degree of financial investment, too. No one is going to accidentally discover a website, get in love with it and link to it and mention it on his own websites. People are scared to link to newly discovered resources so they prefer to link to Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo, SEJ, Mashable and so on. So, we can’t blame directory owners for perceiving a few bucks as a review fee. We talk about someone’s time and effort to review sites, manually add them, check for broken links, develop tools, advertising costs and so forth.
The bottom line is that web directories are still useful and they will always be. Not all of them, of course, but a user can easily figure out if a directory is worth submitting to or not. Here are a few tips:
- Editorial discretion-open categories like “Web Design”, “SEO”, “Real Estate” and verify if there are any listings with spam titles (like “Best SEO Company India” while the official name of the website is “seodeck.com”-you got the point)
- Is there any other information besides the titles and description? If the answer is yes, than it’s ok.
- PR distribution-check out if the categories and subcategories have any PR. Usually, only the homepage of spam directories has some PR.
- Backlinks profile-use tools like Opensiteexplorer to examine the backlinks profile. From the first few results you can figure out if that specific directory violates in any way Google Guidelines.
This about it this way: whats better, if you’re listed in 30 reputable directories or in 5000 spam directories?
Stay away from web directory submission services, better take the time and submit your website to best web directories (here’s a list of strongest directories, the list is updated every month or so) than ruin your SEO efforts paying $100 someone to bulk submit your website to thousands of spam directories.