Web Directories 101
Post updated: 22nd February 2022
What are Web Directories?
Web Directories are online directories of websites, often sorted into Categories or Topics. Web Directories are similar to Search Engines except they are usually sorted & edited by real people (rather than Bots).
Why are Web directories important in regards to website marketing & SEO?
Some of the important Web Directories are also used by many Search Engines to index / list new websites, and therefore web directories can be an invaluable tool for marketing & promoting your website and also for your website's SEO. Submitting your website's pages to web directories will ensure that your site is (eventually) included in all major search engines and therefore can help improve your sites traffic & ranking, too.
Are all Web Directories free? and why should you pay?
Some Web Directories are free to submit to whilst others may charge a fee. Sometimes a fee charged is to ensure quicker inclusion or a premium listing, and may be an annual or a one-time only fee. Sometimes you can pay a premium to ensure that your listing is more prominent or top of the list in your chosen category or group (often called "Featured Listings").
Another benefit of paying for your web directory listing is that it is more likely that a paid Web Directory will still be around in 6 months time...... The simple fact is that NO business can survive very long without earning enough / any revenue (case in point - see reference t DMOZ, below...)
Which Web Directories should you submit to?
In general, the more popular (and many human-edited) web directories usually charge fees, however it is still very worthwhile submitting your site to free directories as well as paid directories. One free web directory, DMOZ Directory (...formerly known as the Open Directory Project) was one of the most important and highest ranked web directories on the internet, however, DMOZ closed in 2017 because AOL no longer wished to support the project. Many search-engines actually used DMOZ web directory to find & list new websites, so a listing in DMOZ was an essential ingredient to any website's SEO & marketing strategy.
Here are some alternatives to DMOZ:
Best of the Web Directory. (Freemium)
Started in 1994, Best of the Web Directory is a commercial web directory providing websites categorized topically and regionally. Free listing is very limited (eg: no website URL in listing) and the paid listing is quite expensive (USD $296 per year) however if it is worth it for your business and brings lots of traffic and sales etc then it is worth it.
Curlie Directory. (Free)
Curlie is the largest human-edited directory of the Web. It is constructed and maintained by a passionate, global community of volunteer editors.
A1WebDirectory provides website listings with short descriptions for reference. Site organized by continents and topics.
ZEEF. (Free )
ZEEF is a curated Directory for Development & Tech Resources. Experts curate the best technology and development resources online.
ProLinkDirectory offers a quality free link directory. They aim at creating a useful resource for both people in search of services (like Moving & Relocating, Personal Finance, Attorneys) and business owners looking for more exposure.
KnowledgePicker is a community-driven catalog of learning resources. Links to resources are organized by topics (broad to specific) and rated/reviewed by users so you see which ones are the best. It's free and open for everyone. IMPORTANT NOTE: Currently the site is archived whilst it is being rebuilt and will be relaunched in the near future. Until then, no new content can be registered or existing content updated. Visitors cannot create new user accounts or login to their existing accounts.
GoWorkable (Free) is a Web links, business and companies catalogue website to showcase your website products or services, easy free listing submission, user review, rating and feedback, many categories, and also human edited to offers high quality content.
Votable is an open content web directory for podcasts and non-fiction media.
World Site Index. (Paid, but inexpensive fees)
Another web directory that is definitely worth considering is World Site Index, which allows (paid) premium listed sites to publish their news on the site for a fee. Listing fees start from only £7.99 (non-refundable fee.) for a Standard Submission. It is a one-time fee, so it is very good value, and if you wish you can pay extra to have your listing featured above other listings for an annul fee of only £14.99 (non-refundable fee.).
You should also read their submission guidelines before submitting your site - see: http://www.worldsiteindex.com/site/submission-guidelines.html
Are there tools to help submit to Web Directories & Search Engines?
You can purchase URL Submission Software to assist you in the task of submitting & re-submitting your website to Web Directories and Search Engines, or you can pay one of the many URL Submission Services to do the task for you for a modest fee (recommended for busy webmasters / websites). There are some things to consider / beware of when deciding to use submission software though (see list below).
Things to consider when submitting to Web Directories:
There are a few things to beware of when submitting to web directories & search engines:
- Some web directories do not allow submissions using automated submission software, and can ban you if you attempt to submit using it...
- Some submission services use automated or semi-automated submission software - ideally, you should probably try to use one that uses only human submissions. (submission software that might be OK with Google etc today could be banned tomorrow...)
- Some submission services do not provide their customers with lists of the web directories & SE's that they have submitted to on the customers behalf. Some unscrupulous companies have been known to submit to paid web directories (knowing that the submission will fail without the fee being paid) in order to complete the submission quota (...there is usually a clause in the contract saying that they cannot guarantee your submission will be accepted by every site etc etc)
- Sometimes it is better to pay a small fee & be in a web directory that can send you traffic or can provide a good value back-link (such as a PageRank of 5, etc), rather than one which is free, has a low PR, is so crowded that no-one will ever find you, and because the website earns no income will be closed down in a very short time....
- Don't be tempted to pay huge $$$ for a permanent listing - if that website or web directory closes down next year you won't be thinking you got such a great deal......
- Do consider the PR (PageRank) of the web directory (...or in fact of any site you may link to). A listing in a web directory is exactly the same as a back-link in terms of value to your site. A back-link from a website with a high or even reasonable PR is very valuable, and Google & others take into consideration these back-links & other factors when assessing your site. So when you buy a listing in a web directory, you are probably getting more real value from the back-link than from any traffic that might eventuate......
- And lastly, submit to the main web directories & any specialized web directories for your particular niche, and then concentrate on providing great content rather than spending hours a week regularly submitting to 1000's of search engines & directories - because the best sites will always get found regardless....