What are directory links?

Directory links can be a useful source of inbound links and a good way to obtain the initial 200+ links to your site but do not consider them a substitute for quality inbound links. Submission to SEO friendly general directories and niche directories (directories specialised by industry or geography) should be done carefully and methodically. (See update at end of post).

The most important directory is the Open Directory Project or DMOZ as it is called (from its original name Directory Mozilla project). DMOZ is important not only because it is the largest and highest quality human edited directory but also because it is made available free of charge for use by other sites. Hence it is used by AOL, Yahoo and even as the basis for the Google Directory. In fact there are hundreds of other sites that use either the whole DMOZ directory or just significant parts of it, as you can see here Sites Using ODP Data. This means that one entry for your site in DMOZ, depending on the category in which you are listed, can result in many additional links.

Before submitting to DMOZ it is absolutely essential to read and understand the following guidelines; How to suggest a site to the Open Directory, Submitting Your Site, Site Selection Criteria, Titles, Descriptions.

Failure to adhere to any of their requirements is a guaranteed route to rejection. However even if you have got everything right acceptance into the directory can take anything from a few days to a few years! So once you have made that perfect(!) submission the best advice is to forget all about it because there is nothing you can do in practice to speed up the process.

As far as other directories are concerned it is very important to avoid all those that:


  • Require a reciprocal link
  • Disallow the robots to crawl their pages
  • Redirect and do not link directly to the listed pages
  • Use the rel=”nofollow” attribute


Locating all the available directories and ensuring that they do not do any of the above would normally be a very time consuming task but fortunately we have Dan’s excellent SEO friendly free directory list. Dan not only spends time keeping the list current but he also provides the list free of charge as an .xls download.

If you save Dan’s spreadsheet with three additional columns; Date of Submission, Category URL, Accepted/Rejected and User Name/Password (for those directories that require registration) you will have a very good worksheet with which to record your directory submissions.

The submission process itself can be made much easier by using automatic form filling software like RoboForm. A simpler and free solution which is just as good is InFormEnter a Firefox extension that adds a small clickable icon next to every input field in a web form. You can can select the item to be inserted from a dropdown list, so no typing is required. Here is a partial screen shot of InFormEnter form filling a directory submission:


You do not want every directory to contain exactly the same title and description. Therefore before you start make sure that you have 3 or 4 different carefully constructed titles and descriptions and mix them up a little during your submissions. Include your original DMOZ submission title and description in your 3 or 4 choices.

Also you will need a unique email address that you can use for the purpose of submissions only, something like submission@yourdomain.com. If a directory asks for an email address it is better to have one that is not only from the same domain as the site being submitted but also one that you can dispose of at a later date should you start to receive endless spam.

Lastly, is it worth paying for entry into a directory? There is no hard and fast rule but usually it is not worth paying to get into general directories. However if there are important trade or niche directories for your site’s sector then it can be a good link for traffic and worth considering.

Nearly two years after this post was made Google has started to take algorithmic action against some directories. It is not yet clear exactly why some directories have been hit while others have not but it is now even more important to choose your directories carefully.

Here is some advice from Matt Cutts in April 2007. He says when considering submitting to a directory he would ask questions like:

  • Does the directory reject urls? If every url passes a review, the directory gets closer to just a list of links or a free-for-all link site.
  • What is the quality of urls in the directory? Suppose a site rejects 25% of submissions, but the urls that are accepted/listed are still quite low-quality or spammy. That doesn’t speak well to the quality of the directory.
  • If there is a fee, what’s the purpose of the fee? For a high-quality directory, the fee is primarily for the time/effort for someone to do a genuine evaluation of a url or site.

He adds “If you put on your user hat and ask does this seem like a high-quality directory to me”.

Follow his advice and do not submit indiscriminately to directories, check each one before submitting and if in doubt – don’t!