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[edited by: engine at 1:05 pm (utc) on July 7, 2008]
[edit reason] no sites, thanks, see TOS [/edit]
No, you will probably not get a lot of help from most free directories. Google pretty much ignores all but the most high-quality directories these days. If you can just submit and automatically get a link, then that link will usually be ignored.
Google is looking for backlinks that are editorially given - that is, a person on a quality website has intentionally decided that a link to your site on their page is good for that site's users.
Put up an amazing SEO tool and many people will link to you. Good sites and bad sites.
There is no rule of how many links you should create per day. My advise is to have a plan that is diverse. Directories, Articles, Social Bookmarking, Bloggers, and reg Link requests... Youll get there eventually... Its hard work and it takes time!
In addition, many sites have zero value; and that includes many, many directories.
There's plenty of discussion already about that, but increasingly, it's Quality that counts with links, and definitely with directories.
I have a site with fewer than 20 links that frequently tops sites with *thousands* of links; times change, and quality is the way to go.
In addition, be very, very wary of directories that request a reciprocal link, which could - and frequently does - have a negative effect on your site's ranking.
Yes, there are exceptions to that, but very, very, very few. The vast majority of Quality Directories have no need to make intrusive requests; they simply list the best, and bask in their reflected glory. Plus those unasked links that Good directories pick up as they go along. ;)