Studying business web directories pros and cons can help you determine how much time to spend on submitting to them. Not all web directories are valuable to increasing traffic, but some of them are. Payoffs can be increase visibility, higher search rankings and higher traffic, but there are also risks involved with overdoing it.
Business web directories (Pros)
The most important reason to submit to a popular web directory is that it is usually free or low cost advertising compared with the phone book. Make a list of online business directories by searching for “popular web directories” in Google. Familiar names that pop up include a mix of paid and free directories. Paid directories include Yahoo, Business.com, Best of the Web, LinksJuice and Uncover the Net. DMOZ and Anywho are well known free open source web directories.
Then find out how popular each directory is at traffic ranking sites such as Alexa.com and Quantcast.com. Anywho ranks in the top 5000 websites in the U.S. while Dmoz.org ranks in the top 1000. Both rankings are considered high traffic since there are millions of sites on the web. If a site makes the top 100,000 it may be worth your time, especially if it’s known within your target niche audience.
The great thing about paid web directories is that they weed out a lot of spammers. This means you don’t get lost in a shuffle of bad websites. Being mixed in with plenty of credible websites gives your website more credibility. Paid directories also help you improve your page rank with Google. Paid links are considered quality backlinks by the big search engines. Furthermore, directories work toward increasing the value of your one way links, which mature over time, giving the links higher priority in Google.
Directories that require approval for your links also count as higher quality in search engines than directories that automatically swap links with anyone. Getting listed on pages with high traffic will also help search rankings, not to mention bring users to your site.
You can target your audience with more precision by using niche directories, which can be found at DirectoryCritic.com. You can choose a niche like “automobile” and find several links to even more specific niches such as buying and selling, diesel power vehicles and used cars.
Business Web Directories (Cons)
Free link directories usually don’t drive as much traffic to your site because they list a lot more links per page, giving your link less visibility. Free links also don’t count as much as quality backlinks by the biggest search engines. If all you do is swap free links with low-rated sites or spammers, it will do more harm than good to your search rankings.
Getting listed in web directories isn’t necessarily going to increase your traffic, no matter how many of them list your site. For one thing, they are designed to show up in listings for your industry more than your business is. In other words, if you’re the only pet shop in an imaginary city called Lonersville, Oklahoma, you want top listing for those key words in search engines, but it may go to the web directory instead and it may take work for the user to find your link. In that sense, doing SEO for your own website is much more valuable than giving your niche away to a broader site.
Another drawback to using business web directories is that not all of them have quick turnaround times for posting or exchanging links. Some of them take several weeks, especially the ones that are under-staffed. Avoid low traffic directories completely and directories that are not clear about turnaround time.
Paying for several listings in web directories can also drain your budget, especially if your site isn’t making any money. Paying $15 per month is reasonable for a high traffic directory, but any more than that might be diminishing returns unless your site turns a profit. If it’s a site that you burn out on after a few months and forget about, don’t forget that signing up for directories with monthly fees can run up charges on your credit card over time.
You may get impressive results by submitting to about 300 free business web directories and concentrating on select high traffic or niche directories that require fees for long term listings. Directories flooded with links are not the best places to help your site. Find popular directories such as DMOZ.org where you can dominate in a niche. In some cases, experimenting with pay per click programs like Google AdWords might be more effective.