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What they are looking for is HIGH volume LOW quality.
We have run control tests on directories alone - free directories - and have found negative rankings as opposed to positive rankings.
When you say "alone" do you mean if a site's backlinks include ONLY directories and no quality links?
If it is a general directory, but has a relevant category, would that be ok?
So, while the toolbar PR may inflate, their outbound 'link juice' is lost at the same rate. Meaning your link has a much lower value.
I'd spend time looking for authorative and specfic directories if I were you.
There are scant few specific "directories" in my niche.
My point is to get creative in how you look for them. Most definately a 'think outside the box' type of search. Combining 'add url', 'submit url', 'add site', 'submit site' or 'submit website' with your keywords in searching might be productive too.
joined:July 23, 2011
Standalone directories are dead
Google just recently shut their directory