Recently a client asked me if he should submit his website to the DMOZ directory. After all, the website he is seeking to surpass is listed there and seems to have very little by way of incoming links. Hoping to make “all things equal” in terms of search engine optimization, he concludes that being included in the DMOZ directory will improve his standing as well.
So what is the right answer? Should he submit to DMOZ? What about other directories? Let’s review a bit and see what makes sense.
So what the heck are directories? There are a number of internet directories found online, and in their purest for they are a who’s who of what’s what. For example, if you run a medical website, you would want to be included in a medical website directory that is well known in your industry as this may help others seeking what you offer find you. Industry specific directories are fantastic for this kind of traffic. And if the directory itself is reputable, then you get a good quality back link to boot!
However, not all directories are created equal. When search engines really began to view links as a popularity vote (consequently using them to help determine ranking) the idea of internet directories really took off. But in most cases they evolved into something different than a useful resource… they evolved into link farms (even if they don’t call themselves that!) To get a link in a directory, you either had to provide a link back to the directory or pay a fee. While reciprocal links aren’t ”illegal” by search engine standards, the fact that 2 websites are “voting” for each other tends to nullify the vote, especially if they are unrelated to each other (mortgage linking to gambling would be an example of unrelated, where real estate and appraisers would be related.)
There are a number of good directories to get included in. The best as mentioned above are those that are related to your industry, so certainly search for those first. Next would be general directories that do not require a reciprocal link or payment. This provides you with a one way incoming link which is much more preferable. Found By Design clients can ask for a free Directory Submission tool that will help assist in finding and submitting to these directories.
The Best of the Best
As the client mentioned in his question, DMOZ is a directory that you WANT to be included in. However, this one is very tricky. You see, the special thing about DMOZ is that it is the largest “human edited” internet directory. Since it is not edited by computers and people must evaluate the websites requesting inclusion, there tends to be a higher quality to the websites in this directory. In addition to that, your chance to get in is limited due to the number of requests vs the number of editors to review websites. So if you request inclusion and are denied, you may not have the opportunity to submit again for a long time. Resubmitting right away will be considered spamming and they won’t even look again.
The best shot at DMOZ is a mature, well structured and maintained website that offers useful content to the public. If your website articles and pages are only self serving you may find it hard to get in. At the same time, a website that is still young may have a tough time getting in. So before you submit, you should really evaluate your website objectively and determine if you think you have a good shot of getting included.
Yahoo! Business Directory
The other directory you WANT to be in is the Yahoo! Business directory. Thankfully, this one is a bit easier to get into, but you have to consider that there is a fee to be included here. While paying for links in general is HIGHLY discouraged by the search engines, this one is an exception. The fact that it is Yahoo! and that you are willing to pay the inclusion fee shows the search engines that you are serious about your business and you plan to be around for quite some time.
Sure you can buy advertising links just about anywhere, but these are short lived and most fly by nights won’t even bother spending the money for Yahoo!’s directory. They want the instant business so they will focus on the paid ads everywhere else (another reason to be cautious about paying for links!)
So my answer to my client was simple… Yes, you want to get included… but not yet. Let your website mature a bit more and then evaluate submitting again later.