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You get what you pay for. Free is only free for one reason only. That's for the free site to try and capture the Market, Visitors and exposure.
People know and understand Charging. Free raises many questions in people's minds, and the main one being is Quality of advertisement and results coming from that.
I'd rather pay £50 per year, be assured of quality traffic - than a free listing that delivers zilch.
Alexa rank is a rough measurement of traffic to any site only, but it's still the only way of 'ranking' websites for traffic. (As far as I know)
PageRank is a guide to 'quality'. Actually popularity is more accurate, as a site's links have a lot to do with the end rank. The more links, the better the site. I prefer to make my own mind up about a site's worth, than have a decision shoved down my throat.
Directory Selection Criteria
Selection of a directory has many factors, and the main one being relevance. Some companies shouldn't be advertised in a diectory full stop, as directories aren't often the most effective medium for promotion.
Although, budget wise, they might be your only reasonable traffic generator. Directories can be a good
long term investment, and effectiveness will very much depend on if/how each one advertises, enhanced services offered and popularity.
Directories are the poor man's method of advertising - used because 'it's another link out there' and is therefore spiderable, or for the PageRank boost. The long term link is more advantageous, in that most directory services are for 12 months, thus are guaranteed a link at a low price. Low price is why directories are used, but that will surely change over the years, as some directories become highly popular.
Popular directories do deliver the visitors and can give very good exposure for services, but this depends on each publication's development budget. A word of warning - Many directories won't deliver the traffic you think they will. The only way of knowing this 100% is to test each one, but this really isn't possible as there are far too many to test.
Why are directories used?
1. PageRank Boost
A good link placed in a popular directory can help increase PageRank. Website quality is another issue entirely, and I don't believe any directory is capable of raising a site's quality. That's down to the webmaster and content.
2. Link Count
Links are good, sometimes free and directories can help a good site to gain free links over time.
3. Brand Recognition
Ah, yes the battle ground for major companies. Very expensive indeed, but necessary for the likes of Coke Vs Pepsi etc to maintain market share and to drive sales. Great if you have millions to burn.
4. Search Accurancy/Time Saver
The reason why directories are cool! Some directories are a Godsend, if you can't find certain important stuff fast.... use one.
These are the most popular reasons for use, in no particular order of importance. Speed is obviously a factor as is the brand thing.
This year I'll use Yell.com and will post my findings on here for all to see. I'm most curious to see just how much traffic Yell can send me, but I'd be surprised if it amounts to more than 100 visitors for a year's advertising. I'm more interested in the brand promotion that Yell could deliver..... I'm fed up with the claims of "We'll send you #*$!xxx visits this year, and it's only going to cost you £1000"
Can any one suggest me how I select a good directory
PR of the directory is just one of the many elements that make a good directory. See if -
1. Directory and all its pages are indexed in Google, without the Supplemental Results tags.
2. The directory is linked from few high PR pages or many average but relevant sites. Latter is better.
3. See if the directory ranks well for any of the phrases which it apparently promotes. Few directories that had high PR weren't even ranking for their own names :)
4. Quality of editing. Are the sites in neighbourhood are related to each other? Do editors allow you to use just keyphrases as Title? and many other signals of quality.
5. Age. An older one that has weathered the tests is perhaps a reliable one.
6. The directory apparently uses some readymade directory script? Quite common when you are unable to distinguish between directories that use similar script.
7. A "Similar Pages" search in Google shows other directories. Lets you know if the directory is looked at by Google as a directory at all or not and to some extent lets you know if the directory has a network of other directories which may cause duplicate content, interlinking problems.
8. Is the directory just a collection of links or does it have some unique content also?
9. Is the directory of the type that believes in having all the categories up, leaving most of them empty?
The Contractor has given some valuable tips here in [webmasterworld.com...] msg #:102.
Free is really a thing of the past, and looking at the following is the key to whether you waste money or get a good listing that returns many times over what you paid. I don't think enough background research is done on directories, I mean who is this lot that you're about to spend tons of cash with. They might be a very trustworthy lot, then again they might be a bunch of sharks...
Exactly who is behind this directory
1. Who owns it? - Sole trader, Partnership. Can they be contacted? etc
2. How established is it?
What services does it offer
1. Are these services noticable by viewers? - If you advertise, can you be found easily?
2. Services unique in any way?
Check those rankings
1. What's it's Alexa Rank/Google PR?
2. Where does it's bulk of traffic come from?
3. Do they even advertise?
Has it been professionally designed?
1. Does it look cheap? Chances are if it does, then it's a high risk. Directories that have been invested in, are visited more often, should have better tools, ad services and probably better information.
2. If it looks expensive and in depth, then that could be a sign of the company's disposable income. Who know how much cash any company has, but I'd bet on the more professional looking site having more operating capital any day.
Size of directory/company
1. Are they part of another group? Have more sites/Network?
2. Plans for expansion at all? Mergers or interested investors?
Check for a Press Release
Check those newspapers, mags and especially on the site itself.
If you can't find a Press Release, it could be that you aren't actually dealing with a good company, if they can't afford £200 to have one written and distributed, then I'd avoid, as the site's goal can't be that serious or in your best interests, and if I'm about to put my site in their hands, I want to know exactly how they will drive traffic to my site. Also, unclear info about their ad campaigns is a sure sign of cowboys at work.
Test them. If they don't deliver within 3 months, pull your site from them and use the cash elsewhere.
So many people don't know what they are doing, and these simple checks can discover much - and save you loads of cash!
For example, I took out a free entry (including a weblink) with Kellysearch niche directory, and within the last 2 years they failed to send me 1 visitor - yet they are a MAJOR force in the niche marketplace. That's how I know why many directories don't deliver. I happen to know how much Kellysearch spends on advertising each year, but that don't matter if the listings offered simply don't work for advertisers. Everyone thinks it's so easy to make a directory profitable and satisfy advertisers, well, I say it isn't, and worse still people pay out, and don't get any return whatsoever. Selecting a directory is tough indeed, especially with the unproven ones, and people just won't spend money on something that doesn't work.
Just be careful when selecting a directory whether paid or free, as it's your cash you could be throwing away and this situation is going to get worse once free listings are dispensed with.