May 122011
 
This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series SearchMe! Getting Better Results When Trying To Find Answers

Are They Keeping You From Being Found in Directories or Blog Search Engines?


Signing the social contract on the Mayflower. What does this have to do with directories?

The Mayflower Compact, signed into law in 1620, was, in essence a social contract in which the New World settlers consented to follow the compact’s rules and regulations for the sake of survival.1

Much like the Mayflower Compact, inclusion into some directories is decided by a minority and done by the hands of unpaid staff through a process that seems obscure, antiquated, and unfair. Indeed, DMOZ, also known as the Open Directory Project (ODP), bases the entire directory upon its Social Contract with the Web Community.

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Has Anything Changed? :: Pay-to-Play Directories :: Blog Search Engines


Are There Any Good Reasons To List Your Website or Blog in Directories or Blogging Search Engines?

I’ve been spending some time increasing my understanding of local search as a serious strategy for businesses of all kinds. (In no way am I an SEO expert — don’t aspire to be one, either — but I do want to know enough to perform certain services while engaging experts for others.)

With this in mind, I’ve started revisiting the idea of submitting websites and blogs to a wide range of directories — not just local search directories. But I’m wondering about the effectiveness of this activity. I’m on a fact finding mission and if you have any experience to share, please have your say in the comments area.

Obscure and Antiquated?

Printed directories like Yellow Pages RIP

There was a time when getting listed in all the directories was all the rage.

The process was so arduous, specialized software hit the market to make the process as painless as possible. (The price of the software is what really hurt.) The services of those who claimed SEO knowledge were largely ignored primarily because of the low quality directories they tended to hawk.

Although it has become fashionable to gleefully proclaim, “Google is taking over the world!” the truth is there are thousands upon thousands of places to do research and find information relevant to our goals and aspirations. Search engines — as we know them — are only a fraction of those tools.

The benefits of being listed, and subsequently found, in some of those places, namely directories, is one reason directories remain a hotly debated topic.

DMOZ, The Open Directory Project

The Open Directory Project (ODP) is the most comprehensive human edited directory of the Web, compiled by a vast global community of volunteer editors. . . . The ODP powers core directory services for some the most popular portals and search engines on the Web, including AOL Search, Netscape Search, Google, Lycos, and HotBot, and hundreds of others.

The Open Directory Project has an Alexa Ranking of 473.2 That means a backlink from it is worth its weight in virtual gold. But trying to get that listing (which is about the only way you’ll get that backlink) is the subject of conflicting views and opinions.

Phil Craven sheds some light on its usefulness as a tool for the average website owner:

Not many people actually use DMOZ for searches in the same way that Yahoo! is used, so the directory itself is of little value in generating traffic. However, its data can be freely downloaded, and any website, however small, can use it. One not so small website that downloads and uses DMOZ’s data is Google. In fact, Google’s directory is nothing less than the downloaded DMOZ directory.3

That quote was from a little while ago. Of course, Google is much more now, but . . . their original press release did, in fact lay, out the weight they were giving to the Open Directory Project. 4 )

Some recent thoughts from other webmasters, designers, bloggers, and small business owners . . .

  • Highly respected in the area of small business marketing and local search directory strategies, 2009, GrowMap weighed in on the DMOZ question in DMOZ Now Largely a Waste of Time and concluded just what the title says.
  • On the day I was writing and researching this article, the Professor points to the continuing conversations raging (yes raging!) around DMOZ5 and Google’s continued use of it.6

Of course, DMOZ is not the only directory out there. Many free and pay-for-submission directories exist. Too many of them are stale, out of date, not well maintained, and (thereby) filled with categories that are of little use to anyone. Though not quite meeting the fate of our formerly trusted Yellow Pages, some of them don’t seem far behind.

The usefulness of including directories — of any type — in the mix generates a mixed bag of opinions. Some of the opinions are positive; some thoughts are at least leaning towards revisiting this strategy.

A Strategy That Still Works?

Scotland-based Shaun Anderson, SEO consultant at Hobo Web, conducted what he calls a “false positive” experiment in answer to his SEO peers who say “directory submissions don’t work anymore.” He set off a lively discussion as noted by the excerpted comments. 7

“I haven’t submitted any websites to any directories for years now; maybe time to review the strategy.” — Gene Munro

“I’ve never dropped directory submissions for my clients, every month while link building for them I add a few directory submissions to the blend.” — SEO Bedford

“It proves that directory links count at least a little…” — Trade Show Booths

“Of course links from authoritative sites are most important and we are working on that. In the meantime, I’ve considered directory submissions, article submissions and social bookmarking.”8

Free Directories or Paid Submissions?

Most of the non-academic, free directories I encountered were garbage, moldy, antiquated, spammified, and long forgotten. Keep in mind, I only performed a cursory search. If there are any useful free directories out there, I hope the maintainers are paying attention to:

  • Freshness of the directory
  • Quality of the sites included
  • Relevance to your business focus

Otherwise, what’s the point?

Given what I initially saw, I moved on to see if paid directories seemed to be in better shape. (Again, the free directories I’m speaking of are not the academic, scientific, or specialized research type, which are generally up-to-date, searchable, and sensibly organized.)

Unfair Advantage: Just Pay-To-Play

At first glance you sometimes can’t tell whether a directory is free or if you have to pay a fee to have your website included. There is one paid listing directory that holds a sponsorship spot on the ComLuv site. I’ve probably seen it 50 times but never visited the site until I began working on this article. Actually, I thought it was a free directory.

Human edited directories: Directory Journal small business listings

After my short-lived experience with the other awful free directories, I hadn’t planned to bother looking at it. But, after remembering it (and giving weight to the fact that it was listed on my beloved ComLuv), I reconsidered. And I’m glad I did!

It has all the good features listed above, a pleasing interface, and a blog. Some of the other directories I visited could take a lesson from this one!

Directory Journal for Small Business Websites - Categories

Up-to-date?

You’ll probably agree that anything that incorporates all the most popular social media avenues can be considered up to date.

Directory Journal for Small Business Websites and Blogs with Social Media and Articles

Directory Journal writes and maintains several blogs
to complement its directory listings and encourages engagement
with its content through popular social media avenues.

The few websites I checked from various categories were of decent quality, meaning no spammy crapola. They had up-to-date business communications and all seemed to be going concerns. These were not overwhelmingly “blogs” (but the websites might have included a blog component).

Directory Journal (dirjournal.com) is a paid submission website directory, so you’ll have to pay if you want to be listed here. I wouldn’t consider it a blog search engine as its biggest focus is on being a well-maintained, mostly traditional directory.

UPDATE & DISCLOSURE: May 2013 This article was written almost exactly 2 years ago. At that time I didn’t have any affiliation or relationship with Directory Journal or its principals. As of the beginning of this month, I’ve been engaged by DirJournal.com to perform writing services for the directory and associated blogs.

Blog Search Engines

If the site you submit is a blog … or a blog resource … and the site does not contain illegal content, then it should have no problem getting approved. However, we frown upon submissions that lead to splash/welcome pages, site under construction pages, password protected blogs, spam blogs containing self-promoting links and blogs which contain very little content. The editors have the final decision on approval/rejection of a submission.

Blog search directories: Blogarama paid submission directoryI don’t know when they appeared on the scene exactly, but blog directories and blog search engines slipped right in between article submission sites and traditional website directories.

The traditional article submission directories (like EzineArticles) mainly exist so others can reprint (and therefore spread) your writings. Then there are what I call social writing sites, as well as a new crop of guest posting sites.

They can be considered pseudo-blog directories or blogging search engines of sorts — but not really.

~ People don’t tend to reprint articles from them.
~ While they can be searched, people don’t tend to visit them to search for articles.

But they do get read, voted on, and commented on.

Back to the point . . .

I wanted to know about the “traditional” type of blog search directories. With a little hunting, I came across Blogarama (blogarama.com).

Blogorama Website Directory Paid Submissions

Once again, the key question is, how up to date is the information contained within these blog search directories? And do the categories listing the blogs make any sense at all?

Find Anything Useful?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I did find some worthwhile listings in a few categories. There were up-to-date blogs included within the categories on topics such as alternative energy and green sites, family finances (not just credit repair drivel), parenting, and small business metrics.

Best in breed directories: Blogorama Blog Search Directory has Paid Submissions and Up-to-Date Categories

    Search. Categories. Rated.

  • A search on “social media” yielded Nodal Bits (nodalbits.com / @NodalBits) with current articles including the much-discussed photo released from the White House Situation Room and an article on how to do screen grabs from an Android smartphone. (Ironically, Nodal Bits is a blog about SEO!)
  • I did another search, this time on “Linux,” which yielded Foogazi (foogazi.com) with a recent write-up on OpenSSH tricks and using the SSH fuse filesystem.
  • Clicking around in the categories, I selected the Green ~ Alternative Energy area to check out the kinds of blogs that would find listing there beneficial. Coming upon Green Home (greenmi.net / @greenrglobe), I clicked through to the website and was pleased to see it was an excellent resource on the topic.
  • Finally, I hit the aggregated Popular Category just to see . . . One of the sites that looked interesting was The Canadian Profiteer(canadianprofiteer.com) which turns out to be … not about internet marketing (!) … about banks, mortgages, retirement, and real estate, to name a few of their finance-related topics. A current headline (dated within the last 30 days) featured news-worthy items like Best Buy Customers Hit by Data Breach.

Nothing obscure or antiquated here! It appears that inclusion in some of the blog search engine directories could be a good thing, even if you have to pay for it.

The final section below gets us to where I started from . . .

What About Technorati’s Blog Search Engine?

Popularity has its place, but that as the primary metric defeats the time and effort put into pseudo-scientific “algorithms.”

I didn’t tell you this at the onset. This is where I started: trying to decide if Technorati held any usefulness for my clients or me.

Technorati was listed as one of the big boys, a new kid on the block you wanted to get to know. It was so popular, the earlier versions of WordPress used it to deliver the Incoming Links section of the Dashboard. But as Google gained muscle in the blog searching arena, Technorati was ousted from the dashboard, being replaced by Google Blog Search. 9

A few observations:

  • There’s a lot of useless, pointless, popularity-based drivel
  • On the flip side — with a little digging — you can find some excellent blogs
  • The really huge sites sit at the top, leaving no room for the type of sites you might want to visit on an every-few-days basis, which makes it hard to discover what you would be interested in.
  • They ask you to “claim” your site, write a post just for them, list a weird token ( like 4CV865JYU2NQ ) somewhere on the page — just to be listed.

It’s still awfully popular but David declares, Buggy Technorati is practically useless and Annie Wallace, writing for Orphic Pixel, showcases what she calls some of the Worst Blogs Online & Why Technorati Likes Them.

I still don’t know if it is useful or not. We’ll see.

Next Steps

I like the erudite manner in which SEO Design Solutions sums this up (which is really a fitting introduction to the entire topic):

Traditional link directories were originally intended as a resource (before the onset of search engines) and at one time did hold a significant purpose to provide additional visitors to your website. … Even though things have moved on from using directories for traffic, they can still pack a wallop of link equity if targeted properly (using a drip down approach). — SEO Design Solutions10

I plan to revisit this topic somewhere down the road.

For now, I’ll continue to concentrate on getting acquainted with the many excellent local search directories available to small businesses. I’ll let you know when I’ve been found.

What’s Your Take On Using Directories?

Please share your opinion and experiences.

  • Which directories do you find useful?
  • Do you ever visit directories in search of blogs or websites?
  • Have you gone the Local Search route?
  • Ever pay for submission? Did that bring results?

Resources

Background on Open Directory Project (DMOZ) from Wikipedia
Google Blog Search Ping Engine
Ice Rocket Blog Search Engine :: A blog about Finding Great Directories

Image Credits
Photographic Reproduction of Signing the Mayflower Compact11 ~ RIP (Rest In Peace) Yellow Pages12 ~ Rusty Bricks13





Footnotes

  1. History in the making! The Mayflower Compact via Wikipedia  [↩ go back]
  2. The Open Directory Project had an Alexa Ranking of 473 on the day I checked, May 8, 2011.  [↩ go back]
  3. Phil Craven, Web Workshop   [↩ go back]
  4. Google’s original March 2000 Press Release: Google Extends Award-Winning Search Service with Addition of Netscape’s Open Directory Project. New Google Directory Significantly Enhances Search and Browsing Performance with Broader Access to Web-Based Information, Website Ranking, and Improved Search Within Categories.  [↩ go back]
  5. The Professor points to the allegations of corruption in DMOZ practices  [↩ go back]
  6. From Google’s Webmasters Forum, Why is Google Still Using DMOZ?, August 2009.  [↩ go back]
  7. Scotland-based Shaun Anderson, SEO consultant at Hobo Web, conducted what he calls a “false positive” experiment in answer to his SEO peers who say “directory submissions don’t work anymore.” He shares his finding in Is This Proof Directory Submission Still Works?, January 24, 2011  [↩ go back]
  8. Forum question: Which links will be better?.  [↩ go back]
  9. Technorati removed from WordPress dashboard. Incoming links replaced in WordPress 2.3 – Software Development forum discussion at TechArena . WordPress.org forum member raises question, “When did wordpress switch to google for incoming links?”  [↩ go back]
  10. From Part 2 of the SEO Design Solutions tutorial, SEO Best Practices: Search Engine Marketing & Promotion>/a>, June 2010.  [↩ go back]
  11. Image: Photographic Reproduction of Signing the Mayflower Compact in 1620 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons (enhancements by Author)   [↩ go back]
  12. Image: RIP (Rest In Peace) Yellow Pages from the Branded Web Solutions Photobucket Collection, Internet Marketing.   [↩ go back]
  13. This Flickr image led me to Phil Craven’s page (Thanks RustyBricks!)   [↩ go back]

About Vernessa Taylor

Hi, I'm Vernessa Taylor. I write most of the articles, tutorials and reviews around here. Join in the discussions, share your thoughts, ask questions and lend a hand when you can. Need something? Ask! Check out my About page to learn more about me and my work as a technology consultant and internet coach. Don't forget to connect with me on Google+ and Twitter @CoachNotesBlog.

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  15 Responses to “Obscure, Antiquated, and Unfair (Do Directories Really Work?)”

Comments (15)
  1. Great post Vernessa…

    I submitted my sites and blogs to directories. I admit, I went the free route and whether it’s actually benefited me or not is still up in the air. Directories like DMOZ, I had a hard time finding the right categories to include my sites. So time consuming, I failed miserably on that one.

    I don’t really have any serious thoughts to this topic to be honest with you. I do know from speaking with a few friends of mine that they hate Google. Hey, to each his own right! So never discount the other search engines because I’ve seen a lot of my traffic coming from Yahoo.

    Guess this topic will still be up for debate and I can’t wait to hear other people’s opinions on this subject. So, guess I’ll be back!

    Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..If You Don’t Edit Your TweetMe Button Now- You’ll Hate You LaterMy Profile

    • Hi Adrienne,

      Like you, when I first got started, I headed over to DMOZ. If I recall correctly, I actually submitted some sites but never heard anything back from them and forgot all about it. (I no longer own those domains!) One thing for sure, the debate about it’s usefulness for everyday business is still going on.

      I don’t think all directories can be discounted. I’m wondering who are the audiences that use them (not everyone is a blogger). Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences to date.
      Vernessa Taylor recently posted..What Time Is It In The Rest of The WorldMy Profile
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  2. Hi Grace, welcome! It’s a bummer to be misled by anything. Can you share which directories you issues with and what you mean by being guided in the wrong direction? That would be useful information for readers here.

    Thanks for your comment today. :)
    Vernessa Taylor recently posted..Diverse Venues: Guest Post at GrowMapMy Profile
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  3. Hey Vernessa,

    I am actually trying to answer this question for myself as I type this. Which is of course why I clicked on this post when I saw the title :-).

    Everyone seems to say forget about directories, but I keep thinking that if they aren’t spammy and have a high domain authority, they would still count as a new root domain link back to your site which should help a little.

    The biggest question I am trying to answer is that everyone says you should never get a link from a site that sells them because google could nail you. However, pretty much every directory has a “featured link” that you can buy. So should I never get a link from any directory that offers that, which is almost all of them? What about yahoo? Yahoo is still selling a link in their directory, and at a steep price.

    Don’t even get me started on DMOZ. I submitted my site 2 years ago and never heard a peep. It is ridiculous that they can’t even give you an idea if you are ever going to get in. Then of course they warn us not to dare submit again or we might never be listed. I didn’t even know if my submission ever went through. So about 6 months ago I submitted again. Guess what, still nothing. :-)
    Damon recently posted..Legal Helpers Debt Resolution Review – Secret Business Plan ExposedMy Profile
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    • Hey Damon,

      It seems when a blogger or website owner such as yourself starts wrestling with this question, he’s on his way to new heights! :) (That DMOZ thing is a real bummer!)

      I could be wrong, but paying for a link in a big, up-to-date directory must have backlink benefits in addition to the value you gain through visibility. Your link is front-and-center, highly visible, and hopefully, highly relevant to the category where it is featured (unless it’s on the front page). (I’m thinking along the lines of Pay-Per-Click visibility and relevance.)

      The blogging world can be a bit myopic when it comes to considering directories as part of an overall strategy. I mentioned academic, research, and scientific directories because bloggers don’t tend to think of them. There are hundreds of specialized directories where our businesses fit, and where our writings would contribute to the body of knowledge. Someone just has to do the research (and hopefully the process of being listed is sensible). :)

      Whatever you discover as you search around, please share — and I’ll do the same. I appreciate your insights! And welcome to CoachNotes Blog!
      Vernessa Taylor recently posted..All About The Suds: Business Development VideoMy Profile
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  4. Hey Vernessa,

    At this point, I am going to roll with selective free links placed on higher authority directories are going to be ok. By the way, I appreciate you giving me a shout out on twitter to that article I wrote about Legal Helpers.

    It is a struggle every day to keep up with all of the financial rip offs and scams that cash strapped consumers are being victimized by. So the additional help to get the word out was much appreciated. I actually had a good time with that article as you probably noticed :-)
    Damon recently posted..Homeowner Forecloses on Bank of America – Ya, You Read it RightMy Profile
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    • Hi Damon,

      You have one of the only sites I’ve ever come across about debt reduction and finance that has a blog with interesting, up-to-date articles. There might be others but the owners don’t appear to engage the community in a meaningful way. So I was happy to retweet your article. :)

      If you’re on BlogInteract, do me a favor and vote for this article. I think people are still trying to get a handle on where directories fit in their blogging scheme and this is another resource to help them along the path. (Do Directories Really Work on Blog Interact). Thanks.

      I’d love to know how you fare with the directories you’ve chosen. If you remember (even months down the road), drop back by this post and give us an update.
      Vernessa Taylor recently posted..No Hardhats Allowed – Online Project Management For The Rest of UsMy Profile
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  5. I have not heard of blog interact before, but I will go check it out right now and get signed up if it looks like it will help. I did give your article the good old (new) +1 though :-)

    Ya, it is hard to create a community around debt issues. It is sort of like trying to get other people to tell their friends about how I helped them resolve their STD if you know what I mean. :-)

    Lately though, I have been thinking about taking more of a personal finance turn with my blog and expand my articles to a much more broader niche and that will certainly help me to get more attention to the financial scams that I have been trying to bring attention to.
    Damon recently posted..Taxes on Debt SettlementMy Profile
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    • Hi Damon,

      Thanks for the +1. Glad you signed up for Blog Interact; there’s a decent community there and the fellow who runs it (Bryan) is really nice. I voted for your article.

      That’s a funny analogy (STD & Debt Resolution) but I do think you’re right.

      I ran into a guy a few days ago who is thinking about expanding his niche, too. See link below in case you want to see how he goes about the process. He’s pretty open with sharing his thoughts, maybe you two will find some common ground as you both move forward. He is @marketingm8 on Twitter and recently wrote Social Media development: Blogger’s niche.
      Vernessa Taylor recently posted..Guest Post on BasicBlogTips: Blogging LegacyMy Profile
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  6. Hi Vernessa,

    Though Directory submissions are time consuming but Directory submissions are one of the most important things to do when you are doing link building. It is also one of the most sure-shot ways of getting solid links to the website of your choice. There are a number of directories such as the Yahoo Directory and the open directory project also known as the Google directory. Most directories have human editors and they may object to multiple submissions. However, if you have a site that is big enough with several categories then you may be permitted to place your subcategories as sub domains and submit it accordingly.

    Another reason why people prefer directory submissions is because there are numerous benefits for directory submissions.

    Regards.
    John Cooper recently posted..IBS BlogMy Profile

    • Hi John,

      You are quite right. I agree with your assessment concerning “solid links;” that appears to be the general consensus amongst SEO professionals, too.

      An issue that seems to crop up frequently is one @Adrienne mentioned in her comment above: the difficulty in selecting the right category to submit your website or blog. Perhaps this issue causes sites to get rejected; however, with many directories being maintained by human editors, you would think they’d slot it in the right place and let it rip.

      I appreciate your comment today, John. Have a great end-of-week!
      Vernessa Taylor recently posted..Guest Post on BasicBlogTips: Blogging LegacyMy Profile
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      • Hi Vernessa,

        Thank you very much for replying.

        Well obviously this happens if the website is submitted in wrong category it just gets removed. Its good to spend some time thinking about the best category which is appropriate for the web or blog. Submitting in the appropriate category increases the chances of web to be added in directory.

        And its better to spend time for choosing best category for directory submission rather than re-submission.

        Regards.

    • John Directory submission hardly take 50 sec by using form fillers but the advantages is that you get do follow back-links after moderation.

      • Hi Zarah,

        You’re right but many directories strictly forbid automatic submissions, especially the human-edited ones. Of course, it would be quite a time saver if they did allow form filler software and used a more forgiving process when it came to determining the correct category.

        Thanks for your comment today, Zarah. Hope to see you back. I left a comment on one of your posts some time back. :)
        Vernessa Taylor recently posted..Audio Interviews: Young Fathers Speak UpMy Profile
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        • Thanks Taylor for your response,
          I mostly use form filler for directories submission but I mostly avoid playing with DMOZ its very sensitive and helpful for SERP point of view.

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