I am in the industry long enough to have witnessed both the growth and decline in the popularity of “web directory” phenomenon.
Web directories emerged prior to search engines as the means to help people discover websites online. During Google times, web directories were used to build backlinks and extra visibility for a website. Then they became popular among link builders – from where the concept abuse started.
There is an argument that link building hasn’t killed web directories. What happened instead is that directories were no longer needed (search engines did the job) but is it really so? To me, it’s the same as to say that Wikipedia is not needed thanks for Google Knowledge Graph (yes, I realize the knowledge graph is being built based on Wikipedia, hence the sarcasm)
The difference between web directories and search engines is that high-quality web directories are heavily moderated. The purpose of today’s web directory is to provide the well-structured database of high-quality websites.
Hence good directories can still be useful:
- To build your site co-citation signals
- To put your site in the most relevant immediate contest
- To build more brand name mentions and awareness (to help build digital footprint)
Below I am listing selected directories that are still driving value to your website (if you are listed there) but more importantly, provide valuable user experience.
Requirements to be listed
Why is it here?
No “mirror” and non-original-content sites”, no sites with illegal content, no sites with mostly affiliate links
The fact that Google still trusts Dmoz enough to show “anchor text or listings from” it is pretty self-explanatory.
“Sites must serve as a resource for businesses or business professionals”. They actually have very strict guidelines listed here
Listing your site there actually drives traffic and brings trust. Note: I did find a few a bit forced “exact-match anchor text listings there” which I’d avoid if I were them
No sites with broken links, only family-friendly sites, sites with cross-browser support, no sites with pop-ups,
Each site has a separate page listing * some stats, helpful links as well as description and most useful pages from that domain. That could become a powerful brand name asset! They also offer free webmaster tools and have a separate “local” directory
“Our users expect relevant results with appropriate ratings”: sufficient content and contact info (for business websites) are required
I actually LOVED the site search feature ** showing different features of each website: It shows the site is very-well curated!
Cross-browser support, no sites with “under construction” pages
It’s hard not to mention Yahoo when talking about directories. They say it’s too expensive to justify it though.
No pharmacy, affiliate-only, redirected sites (The guidelines are rather vague: “it is difficult to name the exact websites we reject”)
Best results are labeled. Category pages have lots of content beyond links. They provide 100 / 300-word review for each site (So they write the copy themselves: Neat!)
No websites with illegal or pornographic content, no affiliate or MLM sites, no mirror and non-original sites
The site overall is very user-friendly. I liked the individual listing pages: They have “related articles” and the ability to comment and rate
I actually couldn’t find clear quality guidelines on their submission page (I can assume it’s located elsewhere)
Positions itself more as a “human-empowered” search engine (they claim to have a crawler of their own), has a great focus on community
*Dir Journal listing screenshot:
**JoeAnt search results:
I wasn’t able to find any arguments pro or against the below directories (or something worth noting in the “Why is it here?” column above), so I am just listing them because I know they have a very good reputation:
- Aviva directory: One of the oldest, best-known directories out there. They say it’s trusted and can even drive traffic.
- Alive Directory: Interestingly, it shows number of clicks on each link (A good sign it’s actually able of sending traffic)
- Skaffe: I like that they show Google Plus button and have “Address” and telephone. I wish they supported that more (most listings provide no telephone; I couldn’t find a zip code that would have any search results)
- Lots of local directories are listed here
- Web App Directories to Promote Your Startup by Justin McGill @jus10mcgill
- Major Search Engines and Directories at Search Engine Watch.
What are your thoughts about web directories nowadays? Please share your thoughts!
Google’s Penguin algorithm cast a long shadow over link building in SEO. With many kinds of links apparently getting devalued, some wonder what the search engine considers important or relevant anymore. Even anchor text has come into question. What’s an SEO or a site owner to do?