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Date Added: May 24, 2007 05:44:45 PM

What is a Web Directory?

If you have a website, it is essential that you know what a web directory is.  Simply speaking, it is a website that contains organized and categorized links to other websites.  There are significant differences between web directories and search engines.  The prior is simply a list of websites, based on category, subcategory, and subject.  The latter displays resulting websites and webpages based on keyword relevance of specific pages of the website.  Unlike search engines, a website within a directory will only appear in one or two categories since inclusion is based on the theme of the entire website in question.  Search engines will display individual pages of a website based on the keyword relevance on that specific page and therefore some websites will appear in the SERPs (search engine results pages) regardless of relevance to a person’s intended search.

There are thousands of web directories available on the World Wide Web including some of the most well known such as Yahoo, Lycos, and the Open Directory Project (ODP).  The Open Directory Project may very well be the largest web directory known.  It features extensive categorization, thousands of listings, and it is also available for free to other directories and search engines with agreement to the ODP’s terms of use.  Many websites and directories use the ODP’s content without acknowledgement, which is one violation of its terms of use.

Usually, directories are quite broad in their scope and list thousands of websites across many categories.  Many directories also feature a wide scope of regions and languages; however, some of the smaller directories focus on smaller niches based on particular languages, regions, or special sectors.

How to Be Included in a Web Directory

In order for a particular website to be included within a web directory a Webmaster must submit the website for possible inclusion.  Typically, editors will review all incoming submissions for proper content, fitness, and correct categorization.  However, there are various types of directory inclusion, usually based upon the price paid for submission.  Featured links, featured homepage links, and bid for position are basic methods of inclusion.  Usually, the higher the cost of inclusion, the more prominently placed the link to the website.

While some directories charge for inclusion, still others offer free inclusion.  Oftentimes, directories that do not charge for inclusion either allow webmasters to submit their websites for free for full inclusion, or reciprocal link inclusion which requires that the submitted website link back to the directory.

Advertising on Web Directories

Many webmasters choose to advertise on web directories to bring in much wanted traffic and click throughs.  In recent years advertising on such directories has fueled much debate and criticism as search engines constantly change their algorithms and methods of determining what makes one website more relevant or stronger than another.  Many web directories are likened to link farms.  (Link farms are directories that block their links from being indexed by search engines.)  Today, website popularity is strongly based on search engine optimization, or SEO.  It is important for webmasters to realize that SEO is not a complete science, but a collection of actions and methods.

A large part of SEO is link popularity.  Although it is not the only thing to consider, or the most important aspect for SEO purposes, link popularity is a contributing factor.  Link popularity can be achieved when a webmaster chooses to advertise on web directories.  Often, when a website is in its early stages, a wed directory is an excellent way to build link popularity.  The general population does not typically use such directories anymore, with the development of more sophisticated search engines, search engine spiders still regularly index the directories and their contents. 

Generally speaking, the more inbound links a website has, the more link popularity it will also have.  Because web directory inclusion means that there is an outbound link from the directory to a website, it will provide an inbound link to that website.  The more directories a website is listed in, the more inbound links it will have.

Because there are so many directories available out on the World Wide Web the debate as to whether they are worth the trouble is constantly sparked.  However, despite the fact that most people do not actively use directories when searching the Internet, meta crawlers and indexing bots do.  Well-designed and organized directories are perfect for indexing purposes.

Paid Inclusion

Many website advertisers choose to submit their websites to premium paid directories.  These paid directories will provide effective website promotion for any website.  Premium directories, as well as the less popular directories, can add much sought after page rank.  The way that this happens is that the directory will provide a strong back-link, which is a way of increasing and improving link popularity.

Inclusion into premium paid directories can be quite expensive, however, the cost is generally intended for not only quality inclusion, but also intended as a filter against erratic and irrelevant submissions.  The fee to advertise on web directories is usually per annum and will often cover the entire website, inclusive of all its pages.  Some paid directories may charge a pay-per-click fee in addition to the annual inclusion fee; this just depends on the particular directory.

If a webmaster is depending on paid (or free) inclusion of web directories as the website’s only method of search engine optimization the website will not remain strong in the search engine results pages for very long.  As mentioned SEO is a collection of different methodologies and practices that must be well balanced in order to be most effective.  Because paid inclusion allows webmasters to specify crawl schedules for their websites, it is particularly useful for websites that have frequently updated pages.

Although submitting a website to a web directory may be a more arcane practice in the world of Internet marketing and search engine optimization, it has not completely died as a practice.  While submitting to a directory will not achieve a number one status for page rank, it will bring in valuable inbound links, which in turn contribute to increased page rank.  To advertise on web directories is to take a step in the right direction.

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