phpLinkBid Blog

The Web Directory Primer

Posted 2008-11-15 in Guides

The Web Directory Primer is a thorough introduction to Web directories. Anybody involved with Web directories or interested in directories will benefit from this article. We'll explain the different types of Web directory in simple terms, and discuss the role of each one in online search and business.

What is a Web Directory?

A Web directory is an organized index of Web sites.

Just like the yellow pages in a phone book lists businesses by category, Web directories organize Web site links by category. A Web directory is also called a link directory, since it is a directory of links to other Web sites.

Similar to how a business lists their company in the yellow pages for offline exposure, a Website owner submits their link to a Web directory for online exposure. Having your link in certain Web directories can help with traffic, SEO and brand awareness.

Each Website in a directory is usually referred to as a listing - much like a listing in a phone book. Web directories usually organize links by category, but also commonly by region, popularity, or alphabetical order.

Types of Web Directories

Several types of Web directory exist, and many Web directories are combinations of the following types.

Free Directories

Adding your link to a free directory means you will be listed at no charge, and with no additional requirements. The obvious advantage of free Web directories is that it costs nothing to add your link. Some of the disadvantages are that free directories will often contain a lot of SPAM, and the overall value of a link can be substantially lower.

If the directory is human-edited then the quality may be much higher, but it can be much harder to get listed. The DMOZ is one of the most well-known free Web directories, but it's also an example of the many problems that can come with free directories. It's nearly impossible to get listed, you usually have to wait months to find out if you're approved, and some categories lie domant and unmoderated for years. If you do get listed, it's a nice link to have though.

Reciprocal Directories

Reciprocal directories are Web directories that require a link back to their directory before you can be listed. Reciprocal link directories can be worthwhile, but they require some work and management of reciprocal links in order to get listed. For non-technical types that are submitting to reciprocal directories, it can be annoying to deal with the reciprocal links.

Paid Directories

A paid Web directory requires some form of payment to get a listing. This can be a set submission fee for having your link reviewed, a recurring subscription fee or a one-time charge. Paid directories often combine a free directory with paid options to get your site "featured" in a category, or be displayed on the front page.

Listing in a paid directory can be a worthwile investment if the site is well promoted and managed. If the site requires payment for each listing, it is less likely to contain a lot of SPAM and will probably have less links overall.

Bid Directories

Bid directories are the newest type of Web directory to come about. A bid directory is an organized directory of links sorted by bid amount. The higher the total bid for a link, the higher up it is listed in the directory. Just like a business lists their company in the yellow pages for offline exposure, a Website owner adds their link to a bid directory for online exposure. By spending more on their link, they control how much exposure the link gets.

Usually, the highest bidder on the site takes the "link leader" position, and gets a sitewide link or other special benefits from the directory owner. This will often result in competition between link owners that keep bidding to maintain the highest spot on a directory. Since link owners can add to their bid at any time, they benefit from having full control over when and how much they spend.

Like paid directories, bidding directories usually contain fewer links and less SPAM than free directories.

Promoting Your Site on Web Directories

If you own a Web site and do any kind of online promotion, you might already realize the importance of backlinks for search engine rankings and Website traffic. Getting links to your site is important for getting visitors and getting listed higher in search engines.

Web directories can be a great way to build links with just about any budget. There are however some things to consider before adding your site to every Web directory you find.

  1. Submit your site to relevant directories in the relevant category for your link
  2. Use different link anchor text and descriptions - avoid submitting the exact same thing to every directory
  3. Focus on directories that are actively promoted and well maintained
  4. Spread out your budget and time across many directories
  5. Space out your directory submissions over time

Web Directories vs. Search Engines

Web directories are very popular and the quality of each directory varies tremendously. Some directories are extremely useful and well-maintained resources, and some are not. Still, directories play a distinct role in organizing the Web that search engines are unable to fill completely. Since many Web directories focus on a specific niche and are often human-edited, they can provide a much more relevant and easier to digest method of navigating the Web than search does.

Search engines are able to index massive amounts of information, and are often a more useful and practical tool for everyday use. Directories fill the void that search engine robots miss, and are very helpful tools for browsing on a specific topic.

Running a Web Directory

Starting your own Web directory can be fun and profitable. There are many scripts available, depending on the type of directory you choose to start and your budget. Here are some basic tips that every Web directory owner should follow:

  1. While most directory scripts automate link submissions and payments, don't launch a directory and expect it to run itself 100%. Invest the time needed to review & approve links and manage the site.
  2. Promote your directory with your target audience. Promoting and maintaining the site is important for a successful Web directory.
  3. Choose a name that is memorable, descriptive and catchy.
  4. Try to offer a valuable resource for users and advertisers. Adding articles, content and other incentives will make your directory stand out.

If you're getting started with phpLinkBid you should read The Ultimate Newbie's Guide to phpLinkBid for a comprehensive guide to starting your new bid directory.


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