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|Criteria for Assessing Free or Paid Directories|
What criteria to check when deciding to submit to a free listings directory?
This is jaymin,
Please tell me how can i determine the quality of free directories over the net for posting my site.
Your question relates to free directories and free typically goes hand in hand with inferior quality, that is, quality comes at a cost and that cost usually has to be met by charging a fee. Therefore, most of what I'm about to identify as 'signals of quality' are unlikely to be found in any 'free directory', as least one of any industry weight and industrial strength.
1. Is it simply another DMOZ clone? Forget it. Use the DMOZ.
2. Is the directory a niche authority? Does the directory benefit from inbound links from other authorities in the niche - such as legitimate .edu links or legitimate .gov links? (Not links from some student's page on a .edu URL or from another page with the appearance of selling paid links.)
3. Is there evidence that the directory delivers traffic? How robust is the evidence? What is the source of the inbound traffic? Do reputable operators in the business space confirm that the directory delivers?
Authoritative inboud links to a directory likely supports the proposition that those visitors arrive intent on clicking out to websites listed in the directory. Look for indicia of quality inboud traffic which would suggest quality outbound traffic. For example, a bona fide link from a government science or health site, to a health or medical related directory, would likely drive prequalified traffic to that directory's listings.
4. How "thin" is the directory? How many quality, descriptive, useful outbound links are there? How deep is the data about the listed sites? Are the listings just a hotlink and a few words? Is that the type of information that someone performing a search would be satistifed with?
5. Would you use the directory instead of some other search tool? Why? What's a signal of quality to you? (How about answering that, here?)
6. Is it a "take all comers" directory or does it appear selective? Many "free directories" are free due to the minimal investment of time, ergo poor quality. Are there spam type links? Is the directory filled with links falling into certain categories (affiliate sites, other directories) versus being authoratative in some niche? "Free" is not synonymous with "poor quality" but free directories, in order to survive as something other than a labor of love, usually need to be married to some income source. A good free directory is likely to be supported by income coming from direct advertiser relations, etc.
7. Does it appear to be part of a network of directories? What are the signals of quality of the other directories? (See #1-7 above.) Is there evidence of directory link exchanges and efforts to artificially boost Pagerank? (Pagerank, in isolation, is soooo 2002-2003.)
8. Compare a scan of the directory with a scan of a search engine: Which does a better job of finding what you are looking for?
9. Is the directory taxonony natural, comprehensive, understandable, logical? In other words is it eash to drill down into the directory to find what you are looking for? Are there many dead ends - where you click on the hierarchical links only to land on a 'no results' page? Yech!
10. Does the directory offer a directory search function? In other words, if you can't follow the taxonomy can you get to your results by keyword search of the directory? How well does it work?
11. Do pages load rapidly? There's nothing quite so painful as thin directories that load slowly.
12. Are the pages cluttered with ads? Is there a big Adsense block above the fold? What is the quality of the user experience? Is it easy to scan?
Signals of quality, the ones that may motivate you to chose to list your website in a directory, may also signal the quality of the outbound traffic from the directory. The two elements - qualities of the directory itself and the (likely) quality of outbound traffic - somewhat go hand in hand. The recurring question is "does a directory work better than the array of other search options?" Work better isn't synonymous with drives more traffic. Better may mean fewer but more focused, prequalified leads. Thus, the rise of the niche directory.
Forget page rank, unless you are going to analyze the PR of every interenal page - not just the home page. Absent other important indicia of industry authority and local trust Pagerank is ephemera.
The list above is "off the top of my head" but it's a subject matter I've studied for quite some time so I'm pretty well equipped to discuss the essential elements.
Keep in mind the perpetual dilema: Those who have found successful ways to source traffic to their websites may be motivated to NOT share their findings publicly. So, how does one find a "quality directory"?
Be mindful that what you read in forums and other public spaces about "quality directories" may tend towards the promotional, with those directory operators enamoured of their special qualities or qualifications - such as their index page Pagerank - tending to emphasize that one variable as if it's something of some importance. The items listed above may not be as easy to digest as Pagerank but chances are you will get a better outcome for your effort by targeting according to the criteria I've outlined.
Are there any other signals of directory quality? Put 'em up.
(That doesn't mean list your favorite directories or examples of directories that you think are quality directories. The focus is on developing criteria to judge merit. Lists or mentions of directories will be removed.)
[edited by: Webwork at 11:09 pm (utc) on Feb. 9, 2007]
I'll add another somewhat related question. I've read that links in directories that use a 302 redirect to enable tracking can cause ranking issues. Does anyone know if this is still a concern? Seems like all the directories in my industry use 302s.
That's a good point; there's no valid reason for directories to mask or clutter the link with 302s, js, nofollow or anything else - a quality directory simply has no need to add to their page bloat in that way.
And on a related subject, neither do they need to have a separate page for 'details' - specially when that page adds nothing to what's in the listing.
Page appearance is also important; directories that use ads at the top of the category should be avoided, specially when they try to 'pass off' these ads as entries. Directories that have zero entries 'Above The Fold' due to ad placement are cr*p.
No quality directory would ever ask for a reciprocal link; why would they? It's unnecessary, bad manners, a sign of desperation - and a serious risk of becoming an opt-in member of a link network.
Above all BE FUSSY - the number of quality directories is small, the number of cr*p directories is very large.
[edited by: Quadrille at 10:28 pm (utc) on Feb. 9, 2007]
|Therefore, most of what I'm about to identify as 'signals of quality' are unlikely to be found in any 'free directory', as least one of any industry weight and industrial strength. |
I disagree; there are a fair number of top quality free directories, general ones, as well as niche and regional / local directories.
Indeed, many 'paid for' entries are no better in any way than 'free' ones; while some 'paid for' directories do reinvest some of the income in improvement, SEO and promoting the directory (and therefore the listed sites). And many 'paid for' directories are no different to any other cr*p directory, except that they levy a charge.
Whether you want your listing for referrals, or for SE benefit or both, you should keep an open mind; the fee has to be a factor, but the investment of time is usually a bigger issue. Just being "paid for" can NEVER tell you anything about quality. Look at each on their merits.
And do not ignore the isue of acceptability. With a free directory, even ODP, you can - and should - make your submission and walk away. If you've read what qualifies, and your submission followed guidelines, you'll likely be accepted. If not, no point wasting more time looking back.
But if you've paid, you have to look back - even if it means finding that you've lost your cash!
[edited by: Quadrille at 10:50 pm (utc) on Feb. 9, 2007]
The worst that can happen to you for submitting your site to 500 directories is nothing. I have done this with sites that compete for some nice 2 word local phrases. If there was some way to hurt a site by doing this everybody would run out and do it to the their competitors. I know somebody that spends a ton of time trying to keep a list of quality free directories. I can spend the same amount of time submitting to all of them and get the same affect. As a matter of fact I will get more out of it. Google is not the only search engine. Also some of these junk pr0 nofollow directories might actually bring traffic. What if their is a pr0 directory that is new and may have PR to pass in the future. As normal you people are all paranoid about nothing.
Don't ignore directory submissions to free directories they are an important part of any link campaign. Some of the places that do it for you don't charge much at all. It is worth the low cost of getting done. I have seen direct proof of this.
That's fair comment; all you will lose is your time and or money; and that's a quick calculation you have to make.
But there is one safeguard - NEVER link back to a directory / link farm / link exchange. Inbound links from cr*p directories will NOT harm you unless 'part of a pattern', so if your outgoing links are clean, you have nothing to fear.
But like all SEO, it's a matter of using resources sensibly. Why waste time and money on cr*p :)
In general, a little bit of paranoia is advised on the web ;)
[edited by: Quadrille at 12:38 am (utc) on Feb. 10, 2007]
Great point do not trade links. I forgot to add that. I think you missed my point. It takes more effort to make sure you only submit to good places than it does to submit to all of them. If you don't submit to all of them you may miss some that bring value. Don't just skip over PR0 websites. Remember you are still getting anchor text value.
"Please tell me how can i determine the quality of free directories over the net for posting my site."
First, go to Google and do a search for "your-niche directory". If your business is real estate, then search Google for "real estate directory" or "real estate directories".
Start checking each of the Top 30 of Top 40 directories. See which directories seem to be using spamming techniques. Avoid these ones of course.
Gather a list of the best directories and start submitting your site following each directory guideline. Exchange links when it makes sense. Pay for the ones that make sense. Stay on topic.
[edited by: zafile at 2:11 am (utc) on Feb. 10, 2007]
|I think you missed my point |
No, I got your point - I just don't agree.
The only directories where you can just blindly submit without investigating are cr*p by definition; they are simply accepting everything that comes their way; they are link exchanges. Therefore there's really no point in submitting at all.
If you ...
1. Are selective - investigate, examine and pick Quality Directories
2. Read their guidelines and submit a conforming entry to the appropriate category
... then you have a high chance of acceptance and the link you get will be worth the effort
But if you blanket / blindly submit, then all the Quality Directories will delete your submission and / or label you as a spammer, leaving you only the cr*p directories. and the links you get will be of negligable value.
The SEs are wise to directories; webmasters need to get wise too :)
[edited by: Quadrille at 2:12 am (utc) on Feb. 10, 2007]
Your method takes longer and that time is better spent on getting more quality links. Free directory submission are not a major part of seo like meta tags and keyword density. Just do it the quickest way possible and move on to something more important. Spending quality brain power and time on trying to pick the right free directories to submit to and studying their submission guidelines is a waste of time.
If you were making a car you would not spend all your time on picking out the right material to line your glove compartment. You would want to spend most your time on things that get the thing to move.
If somebody told me I could only choose between one DMOZ listing and having my site submitted to 500 directories I would pick the 500 submissions. The 500 submissions have more value. Most of you think a DMOZ listing is the answer to all your prayers. It is not. I am talking from experience. I have done the submit to a zillion directories and seen results.
I'm always amused by those that seem to have such big opinions about why directories should be run certain ways without knowing all the details.
|there's no valid reason for directories to mask or clutter the link with 302s, js, nofollow or anything else - a quality directory simply has no need to add to their page bloat in that way. |
Lot's of valid reasons, such as counting traffic, being able to hide links from competitors that try to SCRAPE your directory, being able to throttle scraping crawlers trying to go thru your 302 redirect to find out who it links to... etc.
As long as the directory has "disallow: /redirect.php" or whatever in the robots.txt file it can't hijack your listings, perfectly safe.
People that think 302s are crap feel that way because you aren't passing PR and the purpose of the directory was NEVER to pass PR, it was to provide listings of sites by category or location, and provide traffic to those sites.
If you want PR, you came to the wrong place.
|Are the pages cluttered with ads? Is there a big Adsense block above the fold? What is the quality of the user experience? Is it easy to scan? |
By this definition both Google and Yahoo are crap with ads everywhere and maybe a couple of listings above the fold, funny, people still use them.
Someone has to pay the bills and in a GOOD free directory that's well optimized will have Google ads are every bit as valid and relevant content as the directory listings themselves. If the ads happen to push your listing down the page then pony up a few bucks and be a sponsored listing on the site or quit complaining if it's a FREE directory.
|No quality directory would ever ask for a reciprocal link; why would they? It's unnecessary, bad manners, a sign of desperation - and a serious risk of becoming an opt-in member of a link network. |
Spoken from a perspective of someone that wasn't around during the old days, before search engines existed, dominated, and now have everyone in a panic trying to play by their rules.
Directories RULED the net before Alta Vista, Inktomi or Google were ever known.
Have you forgotten about the concept of the link network?
What you call "a sign of desperation" is what I call how the 'net evolved in the first place as reciprocal linking built the "web". Asking for a reciprocal link is NEVER bad manners but REQUIRING one is!
That's how many good directories are found is from the links on their members sites and those networks of links are how the search engines figured out who the authority sites were in the internet in the first place, and how the search engines were able to categorize the types of sites those directories linked.
A sign of QUALITY are sites that have high link visibility without even using a search engine in the first place.
What happens the day Google dies?
I'll still have traffic, what about you?
What the heck, I'll save you the trouble and call my directory crap and the 600K visitors a month idiots that couldn't tell quality if it bit them on the butt.
Damn nice post incrediBILL, some BIG hints in there ;-)
I forgot one thing...
The only TRUE signal of quality, IMO, is if they intend to spam you or not.
Many directories are just fronts to collect email addresses and you should always use a different email address when you register per directory so you can quickly filter out the bad ones. Although I run a directory, I'm not naive to what others do, and it's certainly easier to get rid of spam by just setting "firstname.lastname@example.org" to bounce than it is to change your primary email address.
|no directory needs your email on a long term basis (except periodical pay for entry directories). |
That would be an opinion and incorrect.
My site uses the email address in several ways, starting with validate the submission and as the user ID in order to edit the submission latter. Additionally, the email address is also another method to determine if the site is still active many months later.
By sending out a quarterly email to confirm a valid email account works well when used in tandem with link checking scripts. Considering how many domains end up in domain parks or porn sites, and my link checker can't detect them all, a bouncing email is another signal the site is no longer used by the original owner. If the email bounces, the account is deactivated for manual review, as the account owner can no longer maintain the account since the email address is used to edit and validate the submission.
Besides, we add new features a couple of times a year, and some features require people to upgrade their submissions in order to participate in new features. It's kind of hard to notify them that they need to update their submission without an email address.
Like I said in my previous post, there are LOTS of reasons why many directories do many things with a lot of misinformation about why certain practices are bad. You can't lump any single practice into a signal of poor quality unless you understand why sites do these things in the first place.
Just protect yourself from bad sites and let good sites do what needs to be done without stigmatizing them needlessly.
Back to running my crap site...
I'd also check to make sure the page you are likely to end up is in the cache and isn't supplemental.
I run two high quality directories. I do paid listings, and I ask for links back for free submissions.
Does this mean my directories are crap? No, they are edited by me, and me alone, and I visit every site that gets submitted and run over each one with a fine tooth comb.
Do I care that engine X or Y now doesnt believe reciprocal linking is ethical? Not at all...
Most site submissions fail inevitably, and I always send a mail back telling the submitted why.
I do not use adsense, but would if I felt inclined to.
None of these things make my directories crap by any means. They have outlasted 90% of the websites that have came are fallen over the last 5 years. None of them have ever been penalized, deindexed.
|I'd also check to make sure the page you are likely to end up is in the cache and isn't supplemental. |
Would having your site listed on such a page harm it in some way?
Whose cache? Google's? MSN's? Yahoo's?
I'd say any directory (or other site) that offers free (and non-reciprocal) link to your site is a bit of a gift horse (that should not be looked too closely in the mouth). I'd simply go ahead and submit. As has been mentioned earlier in the thread, the worst that could happen is that you'd not get any benefit from the resulting link but, then again, you'd never know until you tried, would you? :-)
There are always fine exceptions to general rules; that does not invalidate the general rules.
The advice being given here is given to protect the webmaster who is trying to assess a 'safe' and useful place to submit their Pride & Joy to.
Of course, as directories are created by human beings there will be a variety ... and so there should be. But I stand by everything I've said - and 90% of the advice given by others in this thread.
CainIV - by the sound of it, you have a directory to be proud of - but I am sure that you would admit that the vast majority of directories ARE cr*p - especially those that ask for a link back. I'd suggest to you that you'd almost certainly lose nothing by NOT doing that; I'll bet you don't need to :)
No-one in this thread has suggested that using adsense is bad; it's a matter of HOW it is used; passing off adsense as category content isn't very nice (!), and squeezing the content off the visible page suggests the directory does not value that content.
But it would be a mistake to look at all this advice as a checklist; get the 'big picture'; if the directory looks good, but misses on one point, it's not the end of the world. If a directory falls down on several points, it must raise doubts.
It's all about choice; my favorite directories are those that put the 'user' (ie the searcher) first. Some directories that are built for webmasters are OK (often more by luck that planning!), but I have no time for directories that exist simply to make money for the owner. And you can usually spot them quite quickly.
Comparing SEs and Directories is chalk and cheese; the web is waaay too big for directories map it all (as ODP well knows), and SEs are not about to disappear. But plenty of us still use them, especially in niches and localities.
A year ago, directories had a very bad name, due to the tens of thousands of spam directories that grew out of the link farm fad; that craze is over, but the rehabilitation won't be complete until *everybody* knows the difference between Quality Directories and cr*p directories.
302's are big nono for me. I have had my sites removed from directories that use them! A higher PR directory used to be able to SERIOUSLY harm a fledgling site in the SERPs. I do not know whether that has changed, but I am not taking any chances!
A lot of 'out of the box' cms s use them for their link pages and most people who use them have no idea what they are doing!
I do try to stay clear of those and tell all my clients the importance not to be included in such 'directories'!
|Besides, we add new features a couple of times a year, and some features require people to upgrade their submissions in order to participate in new features. It's kind of hard to notify them that they need to update their submission without an email address. |
Sounds like a link exchange, not a directory; the single defining feature of a directory is that there is a human editor; if you surrender that responsibility and control to the submitter, then it ceases to be directory in the accepted sense of the word.
And yet the links are obfuscated too ... so why would people choose to be in the exchange? No link benefit, few referrels, once visitors read the owner-added descriptions ... Sorry, I just don't get it!
I see no value for visitors or webmasters.
|Sounds like a link exchange, not a directory; the single defining feature of a directory is that there is a human editor; if you surrender that responsibility and control to the submitter, then it ceases to be directory in the accepted sense of the word. |
Please don't be insulting.
You definitely have some funny ideas about the definition of directories as having a human editor doesn't mean you have to take all control away from members nor relinquish all control to members.
There is that concept of the "queued items pending review"...
Say for instance you added a LOCAL index to your directory and just wanted to give members that are virtual only, something hard to always determine in my niche, the ability to opt-out of the local listings, how else would you let them do this without email contact?
Lot's of other examples but it's not worth arguing about what works.
|And yet the links are obfuscated too ... so why would people choose to be in the exchange? No link benefit, few referrels, once visitors read the owner-added descriptions ... Sorry, I just don't get it! |
OK, you must've missed these fine points:
A. It was built when only directories existed, no search engines, and protecting your data from your competitors was a primary objective.
B. Scrapers are a bigger threat than ever, back to that protecting your data thing.
C. It's not designed to pass Google PR, if you want PR you need to go elsewhere, I'm not a PR broker. Besides, I never said I didn't expose those links to Google, I said I won't let Google crawl thru the redirect code.
|I see no value for visitors or webmasters. |
That's probably why it's so popular and #1 rated in it's field for 10 years since it has absolutely zero value.
As a matter of fact, almost 1,000 new submissions a month and traffic increased 150K visitors over the last 3 months so it must really suck.
Not every online business was built around a SEARCH ENGINE or for Google PR purposes, but some people just don't seem to get that. As a matter of fact, some directories thrive simply because search engines (and other directories) are inadequate for their niche and the tens of thousands of sites competing for the top spots simply cannot rank and the few directories that do rank in those spots provide them all of their traffic.
I've actually seen a few log statistics pages of my members that shows my web site sends some of them over 90% of their traffic.
Ever had a large corporation hand you a $30K check for a 3 month ad campaign?
No value whatsoever, none, I should just go out of business.
Crikey; Didn't mean to touch that nerve.
I'm really sorry I'm not telepathic; but I'd still say that the discussion here applies to a large majority of webmasters and a large majority of directories; Yours is quite clearly a 'special case', and I'm sure some of the qualities you describe would make that point to potential submitters.
Additional signs of "quality"...
Is the directory listed in DMOZ or YAHOO directory?
Those are both hand edited HUMAN directories so if you're about to submit to a site that isn't in either of those, think twice, actually I'd run screaming in the other direction.
Being listed in Yahoo and/or DMOZ should be considered a positive, but given how much a Yahoo directory listing costs, and given how long it can take to get listed in DMOZ, not being listed there should not be considered an automatic negative.
|Yahoo directory listing costs |
If you're serious about being in business, free or paid directory, it's just another cost of doing business.
Problem is those pesky human editors turn down real junk, awwww....
In your industry are the market leaders present? If not, what is in the category? What is the organic listing to paid submission ratio of that category?
My industry has nothing to do with it.
Google's Webmaster Guidelines plainly state:
|Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites. |
It's a signal of quality that the search engines examine (several top SEOs say this) when ranking your site and serious businesses use those directories.
Google need quality sites to get listed by recognised authorities, such as quality directories; they value the Human Being Once Over that accepted sites have had.
It's a key aspect of off-site optimization; vital for new sites.
And that is why it's almost certain that directories are a 'special case' for Google; some are recognised as authority, others are seriously discounted. No, I have no proof, and I do not think the little green bar is a clue :)
But I'd take it as highly likely that a directory with a high reciprocal count would NOT be taken as an authority; any form of 'organised link exchange' goes against Google's current policies. Though I'm sure there are exceptions. With the small and finite number of well-established quality directories, I don't think you can rule out some manual flagging by Google.
[edited by: Quadrille at 3:03 pm (utc) on Feb. 11, 2007]
|Please tell me how can i determine the quality of free directories over the net for posting my site. |
I just checked the profile for Jaymin, who started this thread. I was hoping to get a sense of where this person was coming from in asking that question.
I run a successful niche directory and so I certainly have a bias, but I think that all of this talk about directory quality is off the mark, when it comes to the topic of this thread. Seems to me the answer to Jaymin's question is, "Why bother?" Just submit your site to the free directory and don't be concerned about it. Seems like everyone here agrees that there isn't much to lose by doing so, right?
That said, I can't help but chime in on what I think makes for a free directory worth submitting to. I ask myself these questions:
What are the chances of it making money for me?
If it works, can I do anything to stand out and get more traffic from it?
|I'd take it as highly likely that a directory with a high reciprocal count would NOT be taken as an authority |
Ah well, that's not true for all cases, perhaps age of site make a difference, who knows.
|I do not think the little green bar is a clue |
When you look at the Google import of the DMOZ directory, it defaults to showing who it ranks top by PR, not alphabetically, and that's a huge indicator if you ask me. Maybe I'm biased having been ranked on the top of that heap of 40+ competitors since I can remember when.
|What are the chances of it making money for me? |
If the site has no real PR, no Alexa rank, and you see that sites getting listing only get a couple of visits, assuming they even expose those numbers, probably not worth your while, unless it's just to get the link.
| This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 (  2 ) > > |