Technically speaking, the difference between a search directory and a search engine is that the former is compiled by human effort. These humans – usually referred to as ‘editors’ – decide to approve or disapprove a directory submission and usually rank them as well.
Little Engines that Could
Directories offer a service – that service being a list of what the Web user was searching for, at least in theory. From a business owner perspective, aside from listing your business, directories can help your Web site in terms of natural search engine rankings (SEO). An approved submission creates an inbound link to your site related to that keyword/topic. In the secretive world of how search engines rank Web sites, the directory rankings may have an impact on getting your company ranked on the major search engines, although some people believe the impact isn’t as great as it once was.
When and How?
You should only submit your site to directories when it is in show-to-customers ready. Put your best foot forward for these editors! Most directories don’t allow spam – meaning, you can only submit your site under one category. If you have a large site with lots of subdomains, you may be able to successfully submit to more than one topic but thread lightly here.
To get started with directories, go to the big ones first:
(Also, make sure you explore professional directories in your specific field.)
With the exception of dmoz.org, these cost money. You pay a fixed annual fee versus per click.
If you have a Web presence and want potential customers to find you, you can’t ignore these directories and expect to have success with your search engine marketing programs. Getting listed costs a little bit of money and a bit of time but should pay off. As always, make sure you have an analytics package on your site that is tracking inbound traffic to your site to measure directory results.