Hands up who remembers the heady days when online directories seemed to rule the world? Back in the day, when DMOZ was THE place to submit your site, when Google used DMOZ to inform its search results? I certainly do: I was an Admin and Meta Editor at DMOZ and, with tens of thousands of other volunteers, spent over a decade hand-selecting websites to organize and list. Fast forward to 2020 and the digital landscape is completely unrecognizable from the simpler days of the late 90s and early 00s. Are online directories still relevant? Is it worth submitting your website? Yes. And yes.
Although SEO has changed beyond all recognition and Google’s algorithms are now so much more complex, a listing in a quality directory is still worth your while. To understand why, it’s important to look at web directories not just as a source of valuable link juice, but also as a source of traffic and credibility. All three of these things, links, traffic and credibility, come best from human-edited directories and paid listings.
Why Human-Edited, Paid Directory Listings are Relevant in 2020
There are hundreds of online directories where you can submit your website for free. Good luck with that. Depending on the spam level of the place you submit to, you may even harm your chances of ranking well; you certainly won’t boost them very much.
However, a contextual link from a relevant, high authority directory will help. Directories like Best of the Web, which employ humans to independently verify and edit each listing, provide credibility and context; the human touch also ensures that such directories are largely free from spam and broken links, giving an overall higher authority to the link you receive.
How to Choose a Directory to Submit To
When you’re selecting a directory to submit to, there are several things you should check out before parting with your cash and submitting your site.
Look at the Directory’s History and Credentials
How long has the directory been around for? How many sites does it currently have listed? Is it an established name, or a newcomer on the scene? If the latter, is it likely to last?
Check that Internal Pages are Indexed by Google
You can do this easily by typing ‘site:directoryurl’ into Google; the results will show you how many of the directory’s internal pages are indexed. If not many are, this will clearly reduce the likelihood of your listing in that directory getting you a ranking boost, direct traffic or improved credibility. BOTW, for example, has over 72,000 pages indexed by Google.
Check the Directory’s Traffic
How many visits is your chosen directory getting every month? There’s no point submitting to a directory where crickets are singing. There are numerous easy ways to check a website’s traffic – check out some of the more popular options here.
Check the Directory’s Domain Authority (DA)
Domain authority is a ranking developed by Moz, which predicts how well a website is likely to rank in search engine results. It’s a widely used metric for determining whether a link from a particular site is likely to be useful in boosting your search engine rankings. There are a multitude of tools which incorporate DA rankings in their analysis, but if you’re new to this, you can check DA for free here.
Does the Directory Provide Added Value for Users?
Look for added value above and beyond the directory listings themselves – useful content, guides, or blogs, for example, which will make the directory attractive to ordinary searchers, providing you with a greater chance of direct traffic from a listing.
How Current are the Directory Listings?
Some directories publish daily or weekly updates of new listings added or show dates on their blog content or articles. If the directory is regularly adding new listings or providing new content, that’s a healthy sign that it will continue to be relevant.
Top Five Online Directories in 2020
Here is our pick of the best online directories in 2020, based on all of the above.
I admit to a certain amount of bias here, but BOTW is widely acknowledged to be the best of the current crop of online directories, and it has a history of being the best too, having been online since 1994. For a lengthy period, BOTW employed the services of several former DMOZ admins, metas and editors and it is still the leading human edited directory.
Every submission to BOTW is reviewed by a staff member and categorized and listed appropriately, giving you a contextual link which will drive traffic to your site. In addition to the standard Best of the Web Directory, we also have a UK and Ireland standalone directory, plus a blogs directory and our Local Directory to help your business get found by customers near you.
With a DA of 65 and monthly traffic averaging between 70k and 90k visits, submitting your site to Best of the Web is an investment worth making.
A relative newcomer, having been online since 2009, Jasmine Directory has a DA of 59. It has built a reputation as a popular directory, with every submission being human reviewed. Jasmine also has a popular blog with interesting articles, and does well in traffic rankings.
Aviva has been around since 2005, and is known for insightful articles, blogs and resource lists, as well as its human-reviewed directory listings. Many of Aviva’s directory categories have their own feature articles, and it also has a regional directory and a blog directory. With a DA of 54, Aviva is another good bet for a paid directory listing.
Dirjournal, or Directory Journal to give it its full name, was established in 2006. It has a clean style, with local search as well as directory categories. Dirjournal also publishes a wide variety of content, including blogs and guides, and a weekly social media and search roundup. It has a DA of 57 and incorporates user reviews of some websites too.
JoeAnt was created in 2001 by former Go.com volunteer editors. Its look is not as slick or professional as some of the other directories, but it does have a strong DA of 56 – and it’s also by far the cheapest in this list, with a paid listing starting at $39.99. JoeAnt also gives you the opportunity to become an editor yourself, in which case you can list your website for free. If you’re on a tight budget and looking for a directory link, this is a good choice.
Overall, in 2020 it still pays to think of quality paid directory submissions as one piece of your digital marketing strategy. While not the be all and end all that they used to be, a solid contextual link from a human-edited directory is still likely to boost your traffic, increase your visibility, add credibility to your site and enhance your search engine rankings. What’s not to love about that?