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How important are website directories to improving your search engine ranking?
Is dmoz.org still important? What about others?
Out of the many techniques which constitute SEO, building backlinks has emerged as one of the most effective ways to give websites a higher ranking in the search engines. While a slow organic growth of inbound links will eventually cause upward motion in rankings, it is often necessary to give things a push in the right direction by listing sites on a quality web directory.
When you submit a site to one of these directories, you gain the advantage of having a high value inbound link from a website which receives a lot of traffic of its own. This is helpful for a few reasons which we'll cover here in brief.
First, an inbound link from a popular website is considered to be more valuable by Google and other search engines. Basically, the more popular the website that the link originates from, the reasoning goes, the more popular the website it points to must be. For this reason, a backlink from a web directory can be far more effective in boosting your visibility than one from a less popular site in your own industry or a re*****cal (two-way) link exchange with another website.
Secondly, if you choose popular directories to submit a site to, you're also providing potential visitors another chance to find your website. While they're not as popular of a vehicle for finding web content as the search engines themselves, you may be surprised by how many hits you receive from these directories. Every little bit really does help when it comes to SEO.
Link popularity really does matter to the search engines - and of course, webmasters should certainly carry out their own link building campaigns as well as using web directory submissions to drive traffic and move their sites up the search engine page rankings.
Like SEO itself, link building is an ongoing effort and especially early on after establishing your website, you'll have to put in some work in order to get the ball rolling. Once your site has achieved a certain level of popularity and traffic, inbound links will continue to grow on their own, though it never hurts to have more links to your site, especially from popular sites in your own industry.
One note of caution though: it really does matter which web directory you choose. Don't submit a site you own to low-quality 'link farm' sites which feature no content other than pages and pages of links; this used to get results for webmasters, but the search engines have long since been fine tuned to spot this and links from these sites will now either produce no benefit or in some cases, even cause your page rank to drop! Used judiciously, a listing on a high quality web directory can help get your site moving in the right direction - just be sure to choose wisely.
Here are a couple lists of free website directories.
There seems to be a wide range of these directories out there. Most look the same but I have noticed some have a fee, $10 or more to be submitted.
Is there a difference in the free vs ones that cost?
Usually paid ones are higher quality links. I'm personally not a fan of paying for directory submission but some people do. Directory submission is just a small point on the map of SEO. I would say social bookmarking and niche related blog commenting trump directory submission any day. BUT, it is important. You have to complete the puzzle.