Lee Odden

SEO Basics: Are Directory Submissions Still Worthwhile?

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO, SEO Tips

Here’s another search engine optimization Q/A on on the topic of web site marketing via directories compared to search engines plus a bonus on the value of meta search engines.

These are real questions from a web site owner and due to the vintage nature of the topics, reflect the need for ongoing education and updates necessary for anyone involved in marketing through search.

What is the audience of the directories compared to the search engines? What is the benefit of being included in directories ?  What if I only submit my website to algorithmic search engines and not directories: Does it really matter ?

Directories like Yahoo’s Directory and DMOZ.org have been cited by several search engines as logical places for inclusion as part of an effort to acquire inbound links. However, as of October 2nd, 2008 Google no longer includes this recommendation in their Webmaster Guidelines.

The audience for directories as far as direct traffic is minimal and niche at best. However, if a directory is well managed and offers specific categories for specialized niche topics, then it may be worth inclusion. As with any other kind of online marketing, if it’s good for searchers, it’s good for search marketing and SEO.

Submissions to algorithmic search engines are not necessary. Search engine spiders/bots will find your pages through links from other web sites. If your site does not have many other sites linking to it, then content based link building tactics will facilitate search engine spiders finding and including web pages in their search results.

Think of links as the electricity that bring your web pages to life in the search engines. Strong sources will deliver more power as will a large number of sources. The key is that they are topically relevant and created in a way that technically allows search engines to follow the links to your web pages. See “Ensure Your Site is Crawlable” for more on that.

As a bit of a post script to the directory question, I have to say that our agency continues to submit client sites to Best of the Web. It’s part of our process and BOTW does a great job of maintaining editorial standards. Some, not all, of our clients do see traffic from BOTW.

What is the audience of meta search engines compared to algorithmic search engines?

Meta search engines like Dogpile and WebCrawler have niche audiences that rank at less than 5% of total search engine market share. According to (comScore’s August 2008 report), the share of search distribution is:

  • Google 61.9%
  • Yahoo 20.5%
  • Microsoft 8.9%
  • Ask 4.5%
  • AOL 4.2%

The reach and relevance of meta search engines is nominal for marketing purposes. Besides, meta search engines do not directly index web pages, they scrape search results from major search engines and present aggregated or filtered results.  If your site is doing well in the major search engines, then it is likely doing well on meta search engines.

These SEO Basics Q/A are a bit of a departure from the industry trend topics on digital marketing that we typically post here on Online Marketing Blog. Please share your feedback as to whether you’d like us to continue posting them. We literally have hundreds of them.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Directories have really not been a good source for traffic, not even Dmoz and Yahoo directory although people claim getting some traffic from them.

    Links from directories are just useful to get some good backlinks, if the directory is well maintained and good to provide a backlink to the website.
    Agree with you Lee, that search engine submission is not worth doing, as SE bots would naturally come to the website to index it. Only if there are some good backlinks to the website, and those can be got through directories too.

  2. While the SEO Basics are nothing new, I think there is value in them for both experienced online marketers and new entrants to the industry.

    As SEO experts, we all have a different flavor of pitching information. My readers are looking for X, your readers are looking for Y. Understanding that there may be overlap and that we both use different basic communications techniques for our different audiences is a good opportunity to learn from. Perhaps one of us has found the “missing link” that allows a critical element to be understood by the people needing it.

    On the flip side, I am pretty sure there are a lot of readers here who have the urge to pull out search engine and social media dictionaries to figure out some of the more complex articles. There are A LOT of very smart people out there who are just getting into this industry, and helping them understand the basics is critical for our businesses and industry.

    ~Barry Hurd

  3. Might sound cruel, but frankly if a site needs links from general directories beyond the Big 5, they have bigger problems ahead than directory links.


  4. Great thoughts on directories. I just do them from a link-building standpoint, but honestly focus more on articles and other context links. I’d love to see more of this kind of writing on your blog, so there’s my vote!

  5. I agree with Dan. I don’t see enought of this information on blogs or anywhere on the web. I’ve never gotten much traffic from Yahoo or Dmoz.com, but I’d be interested to hear if other’s have.

  6. I tried submitting at articledirectories.com i think was the site, and did not get any sort of traffic from there. submitting to directories for me hasn’t been a good experience. im a newbie as well so there’s much to learn, this blog helps out a lot thanks!

  7. Well the search engine submissions DO expedite the indexing process. I realized one of my sites with little content but more so a “COMING SOON” type deal with a sign up for more info for when it did launch… wasn’t indexed for quite sometime. I submitted it and it was pretty much immediately indexed after that. Now maybe the timing happened to be coincedental but I’d like to believe it wasn’t. 😉 As for directories, it’s always nice to get the backlink but you’re right — they shouldn’t be relied on.

  8. Thanks for reminding about the update in the Guidelines from Google, definitely a good idea to check for updates.

    Great point that niche directories can be valid. I was reviewing some of our web reports for some our real estate websites and found a free directory had not only been sending traffic each month, but those visitors were converting into leads.

    It definitely helps to evaluate which directories might be worth some time and which ones you can save on.

  9. The only reason to want to be included in any directory should be backlinks. Expecting traffic from it is unrealistic and a bonus at best.

  10. Other than a few niche training directories we’ve slowed down our search for directories quite a bit. Originally we were submitting for the inbound links and the hopes that someone would occasionally stumble across our site. We’ve found that the traffic from most of the directories is virtually non-existent.

  11. The directories must work some – as soon as I submitted to just a few for a new site it (the site) started getting traffic – I haven’t started advertising yet, so…
    I doubt it’s coming from the search engines!

  12. Hey Eric, I agree. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  13. Overall, I think if your process allows you to efficiently identify relevant, quality directories, then why not submit? Just don’t rely on them like people were able to do in 6 years ago.

  14. Avatar Engago team says

    Our experience with our B2B website is: hardly any visits from directories.
    We track every individual visitor as this is our service.

  15. Hate to disagree with Eric (Hi Eric) but outside of the US, the smaller directories outside of the ‘Big 5’ can be essential submissions.

    If you want to do well in local search, it can be vital to have locationalised backlink data (i.e. to be listed in local directories, or national directories in the right locational categories).

    I realise that such a tip is not necessarily a ‘basic’ one, but it is a very important one in creating the right back-link profile. Geolocational backlinks help with geolocational search.

  16. Unless the directory and your product/service is really nichey, I really don’t see a whole lot of value in directory links. People rarely use directories to locate business anymore and I doubt search engines place very much weight on those links.

  17. Directories are pretty worthless. Traffic is negligible and the SEO benefits are pretty sad too. Social Media sites are far far far better to submit too. DMOZ is a joke and ought to be delisted from the major search engines.

  18. local directories are a great way to market your comapny but are only truely effective if you know what you are doing. First you would need to know waht yoru goal is. Are you trying to reach new customers? are your customers just in your local area of nationally? here is a tutorial about local marketing that shows you a few listings that have been optimized. next you would need to know what components you should add to your local directory listng. Do you have a video you want added? Do you have Pictures? Should you add a logo? Finally you will need to know how to optimize it. There are only really four options: do it your self, use PPC, pay an SEO Company (that specializes in local marketing), use directory services. Each has a niche. Doing it yourself is free and also the least effective way, PPC is limited and if you use yellow pages or super pages you will end up paying 3 to 4 times as much for the same end results and will not be on the same part of the pages. By using an SEO compnay you are actually get the highest ROI just make sure they are not charging more than $300 per month casue if they are you are paying too much.Finally using directory services, this option is okay however they only list you in directories there is no optimization it needs to be added to one of the other options.JeremyPeakstudios.com 

  19. i was going to write something, then i read the comments and i think Eric Ward said something different than i was going to, yet, just as perfect.

  20. Directories are really not been a good source for traffic to a website but they do help in gaining good position in search engines if we consider the folowing points:
    submiting to niche directories,
    where the website been listed in directory having good page rank,
    directory is coming on top pages for targeted keywords in google or other search engines.

  21. Hey guys don’t underestimate anything.
    Yes i agree that there are only few directories which give relevant traffic.

    I advise to go for LOCAL Directories , Local Search Engines that are target based but must be optimized via LOCAL SEO
    Now here is a tip that i think might be useful.


    #1 Say if u are targeting a Directory with PR 8 , 7 , 6 then target the category which has got a great page rank.

    # 2 The category must be relevant and also ur site must have at least a PR of 1 so that u can gain value from the relevant directories.

    # 3 By having a good PR 2 or 3 for ur site, Directories would include ur site asap.

    # 4 Go for the category where u think most of the users would search for ur relevant category : ex Regional based

    # 5 Optimize ur Title + Descp + keywords + Anchor text with the Rich keywords in the content before u submit to Directories.

    # 6 LOCAL SEO Optimization must be made compulsory if ur GEO Based ex: NYC Online Store, Miami Hotels

    Hope this may reach the right ppl


  22. I have my clients who want to submit their sites to 1000+ available SE Directories inspite of its unusefullness..so how to convince them regd this? Any ideas pls..

  23. I believe they are still worthwhile, but again, there’s a lot of rubbish out there.

    We work on behalf of many local businesses, we submit sites to DMOZ, Yahoo Directory & BOTW primarily, but we also list them in as many industry specific and local directories as possible. Local ones in particular do seem to get a nice amount of traffic (we create our own as well, and the amount of businesses without a web presence we list on our websites we come top for is nice).

    However, a lot of terrible directories out there, like there are a lot of terrible forums and blogs, an SEO’ers job is to sort the wheat from the chaff and effectively promote their clients wares 🙂

  24. I understood it was removed as many novice webmasters were simply assuming that just submitting to directories would suffice. Sadly they would submit to thousands of worthless ones. They aren’t discounted just not being promoted anymore.

  25. I didn’t get much traffic from directories, yet when i analys my backlinks I will be glad if i found a Dmoz link.
    First: it took a long time to appear if you submit your site as a free service.
    Second: I think you can trade link submission with PR.
    It will drive traffic more than directories


  1. Directory Submissions Revealed on Tonight's SEO Rockstars | WebmasterRadio.FM Blog says:

    […] scoping out the landscape…when I found my buddy Lee Odden asking that age old question: Are Directory Submissions still worth anything? Do they help or hurt? Do they even matter? This really is an age old question […]

  2. […] SEO Basics: Are Directory Submissions Still Worthwhile? – A topic that’s pretty much a blast from the past, this post questions the value of submitting web sites to directories to attract traffic and for SEO. Google’s recent changes to their webmaster recommendations gives the impression directories are even less valuable than previously thought. Also this post earned TopRank a spot on “SEO Rockstars” at WebmasterRadio.FM. […]