Utilizing Popular Directories as Free Link Sources
If you're a webmaster, you've probably spent almost as much time going after link exchanges as actually building your website. Gaining in-bound links, especially from websites with a higher PageRank than your own, can increase your own PageRank on Google, and help your site attain a better overall ranking in Google search results. Proposing link exchanges with other sites that have similar content to your own is a good idea, but the process can be terribly time consuming. So what else can you do?
Most webmasters tend to underestimate the usefulness of online directories in propagating links to their website. No, I am not talking about FFA pages or the thousands of small directories only the website owners and perhaps two other people know about. I am talking about the big directories, such as The Open Directory Project (ODP or DMOZ), Yahoo, Zeal, and even Buzzle.
Getting a listing, or multiple listings, in these directories can bring direct traffic to your website. But perhaps most importantly, these directories act as a propagation source for other sites that are looking to place relevant links on their site. For example, someone who has website about tropical plants may want to place a variety of links to other sites with the same topic. Chances are good they will go to one (or more) of these directories, pick out some links, and place them on their links page. Now, if your website has something to do with tropical plants, and your site was listed in the directory and category they took links from, you might have received a free link from this other website without ever having asked for it. You would probably be surprised just how many new sites fill their fledgling link pages with websites listed on Yahoo, ODP, and other directories.
Furthermore, various popular search engines directly use one or more of these directories to populate their search results. For instance, Google is known to use, and look favorably upon, sites listed in ODP. In fact, Google's so-called directory is populated almost entirely with ODP categories and websites. And because ODP data can be freely placed on any website or within any search engine, literally thousands of websites and search engines use their data. Free links galore!
There really aren't many search engines that directly use the Yahoo directory, but that doesn't devalue a Yahoo listing. A website listed in the Yahoo directory will benefit due to direct traffic from that listing, as well as the possibility of better placement in the Yahoo search results. Yahoo is the most used search engine behind Google, so good placement within their results is important. And as mentioned previously, many websites will "borrow" links from the Yahoo directory to place on their own site. There is no doubt that getting listed in the ODP and on Yahoo will lead to more links beyond the one or two you get in the directories.
Smaller directories, like Zeal and Buzzle are also worth submitting to for the same reasons. Zeal is a particularly good deal because site submission is free (once you are a Zeal member) and the links in the directory are used throughout the Looksmart Network, which includes the sites Looksmart.com, Wisenut.com, Findarticles.com, and more. Buzzle is an informative directory that contains useful articles as well as links. Getting listed within the Buzzle directory costs $59 (nonprofit sites are free), but it may be worth it considering you are getting a link from a good site with decent exposure.
There are many other high-quality directories you may want to consider. Good places to look for directories are, ironically, in the ODP and on Yahoo under the category Directories or Search Engines. Yahoo is especially helpful in that it lists the most popular directories first.
Bradley James is the Chief Editor at GoogleAdvisor.org. He has a computer science degree (BS) from Truman state University, and is currently working on his MS degree at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro. He is especially interested in search algorithms used by such search engines as Google and Yahoo.
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