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Can you please explain to me the methodology of using the links that you already have indexed by directories. For example in Google when I do a link: search it has no record of my ODP listing or my Google directory listing, how can I make google and other SE's aware of these valuable external links
If I submit the directory URL it will also spider all of the competition sites as well, is there a way around this ?
Thanking you in advance
Through personal experience many SEO's have realized the benefit of links from major directories, the reason (besides the direct traffic)? Most search engines give some kind of link popularity boost for these types of links. Below I'll cover 2 of the more documented methods that the SE's use.
Page Rank was first introduced by Google. Page Rank takes the traditional link popularity idea and adds a twist. With page rank your link popularity is scored by adding up the link popularity scores of all the sites linking to you. With this method you want to link to the biggest most highly -connected sites available. Since you probably already have links from the major directories this is one of the easier ways to improve your link popularity.
Hubs and Authorities
With the "hubs and authorities" methodology search engines mine the link structure of the web and use that info to give a boost to pages that can either be considered a hub (a site that contains many links to good authority sites on a particular topic) or an authority (a site containing information on a topic that is pointed to by many good hubs}. With this method getting links from directories indexed, is the first step to becoming an authority.
"If I submit the directory URL it will also spider all of the competition sites as well, is there a way around this"
As far as I know there is no way around this, But unless your already ranking very well, this shouldn't be too much of a factor, you'll gain much more than you'll loose....
However, as Brett pointed out, most spiders will eventually find and index the main category. It's just a matter of time.