How to Evaluate a Directory Before You Submit a Site

One of the most frequent questions we receive is...

How did you choose which directories submit to?

That's a really good question actually. There are a lot of directories out there, some are free, some charge, some charge a lot, and not all of them will be worth your time or money. Some of them might even contribute to a Google Penalty!

We consider a number of factors in determining which directories to include for the primarypurpose of building PageRank, Authority, Trust and Traffic.

We use these factors to decide what general directories to include in our Directory Master Chart, and you can use the exact same criteria to evaluate whether a directory or any other similar service is worth submitting your site to, specifically when looking to raise your link profile in the major search engines and hopefully some referral traffic as well.

Here's our process:

Check The Links

First, we check to make sure that search engine spiders could follow the links in those directories. While getting traffic from your directory listing is nice, it doesn't usually tend to be a significant amount. Most of the time, the benefit to being listed comes from the fact that you're building a network of trusted incoming links.

To determine if the search engine spiders can follow a directory link, check to see if that directory is using direct links to the sites listed within. Some directories use redirected, nofollow, or JavaScript links, and none of these link types will help the spiders find your site. We excluded all of the directories that were not using direct links.

To further clarify, let's say that your site is called www.your-site.com and you're being linked to from a site called www.their-site.com...

A direct link in the HTML source code would look like:

<a href="http://www.your-site.com/">Click here!</a> 

A JavaScript link would look like:

<a href="JavaScript:void(0)" onclick="window.open('http://www.your-site.com/')" onmouseover="status='http://www.your-site.com/'; return true;" onmouseout="status=defaultStatus; return true;"">Click here!</a> 

A redirected link would look like:

<a href="http://www.their-site.com/redir.php?r=http://www.your-site.com/">Click here!</a>

And a nofollow link looks like:

<a href="http://www.your-site.com/" rel="nofollow">Click here!</a> 

There are variations on these types of links, but most will look very similar to the examples given above.

After checking to make sure that the links were direct, we also checked the meta tags at the top of the directory page's source code in the <head> section to make sure that they do not contain this tag:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow"> 

Is the Specific Page Indexed?

Next, we check to see if search engines were crawling and indexing the directory, but not just some pages of the directory, specifically the category page where we will likely be getting a listing. This can be done using the site: command offered by most search engines.

For example, let's say we have a Golf Cart site we want to submit to BOTW. Find the category where your site would likely get a listing in, such as

botw.org/top/Business/Shopping_and_Services/Sports/Golf/Equipment/Carts/

Grab that page's URL, then go to Google and do a site: search to see if the page is in the index. Like this:

site:botw.org/top/Business/Shopping_and_Services/Sports/Golf/Equipment/Carts/

Result - Did not match any documents. - we struck out on that one, the URL wasn't in Google's index, therefore would not likely be much benefit. Either find another category and test it to see if it's indexed, or skip that directory. There are many categories at BOTW that are indeed indexed, just not that one.

If you find that very few of the directory's pages have been indexed, then you'll know it's mostly being ignored by the search engines and thus is a bad directory to submit your site to.

Also, by clicking the Cached link found near each of the site: search results, you can see how recently that search engine indexed the page. The more recent, the better—as it means the search engine is actively crawling and indexing that directory.

Overall Quality

We also look at the overall quality of the directory, especially in regards to advertising. If the directory is full of run-of-site links to pharmacy or gambling sites, it's probably a bad idea to have your site listed there.

If the directory says anything about submitting to rank better, increasing your page rank, or anything similar Run Forest, Run! That directory will eventually be penalized by Google if it hasn't been already.

Check PageRank

Finally, we looked at the PageRank of the directory's homepage and to a lesser degree, the PageRank of the actual directory page we expected our site would be listed on. Although PageRank isn't the most important factor when choosing to submit to a directory, it helps us gain an idea of how highly Google regards that particular directory. Obviously, the higher the PageRank, the better.

In cases where the PageRank is very low (PR=0—3) this could indicate the directory is not an important one at all—or even that it's been penalized by Google. These are the directories we avoid submitting to.

Don't Overlook Niche and Small Local Listings

Niche directories, resource pages and local listings with a very clear editorial process can be a goldmine for both search referrals and to assist in Local Search Ranking if they target the same geographic area. These directories will not have random links to the pills, porn and mortgage loan sites, you will be able to see they are laser focused on their topic, and very likely a labor of love on behalf of the editor. They may not be easy to get a listing in as most are maintained by individuals or small companies with an interest in their topic area.

Use the same guidelines we suggest for larger directories while evaluating them, however even if they use rel=nofollow, or use redirects in their links, don't ignore them as a great source of referral traffic.

Summary

So there you have a peek into our rationale. Each directory in our Ultimate Directory List passes the criteria set forth above. If you happen across any other directories that are not (yet) included in our list, we recommend that you apply these same standards to determine if it's a worthwhile place to submit your site to if your intention is to increase your Page Rank.

Teaching you how to fish!