Once you have your website up and running, one of the first things you need to do in the world of site promotion is submit your site to the directories. If you are new to this, then one thing to understand is that directories are not search engines, it’s a common mistake. Directories list websites and organize them by category and subcategory. Each category is broken down into smaller and smaller subcategories so that your website is listed in the most accurate way possible. The category/subcategory should apply to the whole site and not just one page or section, so be sure to select the right one. Submitting your website URL with misleading or incorrect information can cause a delay or rejection for your site.

Web directories exist to catalog active websites. If a directory was able to accurately list every active website around the world it would be the perfect directory. However, the fact that it is so easy to start and abandon a website means that no directory is perfect at any moment. Directories try to weed out any websites that are no longer active, so that people can find information that is up-to-date and accurate.

There are several reasons that people submit their websites to the directories, but the most important is that search engines send spiders through these sites to find active, categorized websites that have already been compiled by the directories. So, by listing your website with important directories, search engines find your website with all the proper information and correct links. Another reason to submit your site URL to the directories is that each directory creates an inbound link for your site. In its most basic form, an inbound link is seen as a vote for your website by the search engines when they try and determine what pagerank you should have. So, the more quality directories that list your website the better your chances are for improving your pagerank within the search engine results page.

Directories can be either free or paid with the paid directory fees ranging from the small $5 to the pricey $300 for Yahoo! and other top level directories. However, most paid directory fees range between $25 and $50. The quality of the directory is not determined by how much it costs to submit, in fact many of the best directories are free. You need to evaluate how useful the directories are for you, especially when it comes to niche directories. There are hundreds, even thousands of web directories from which you can choose and if your budget allows you can submit your website URL to every single one of them. For most websites it makes sense to submit to a combination of free and paid directories and to seek out the niche directories that serve your area of interest.

You can handle directory submissions yourself or in-house, but to do so you need organization and a plan. Do your research and compile a list of directories and then you can begin the work of submitting. Each directory will have its own policy for how you submit your URL and website information as well as a different category/subcategory structure, so it can take a bit of time to handle each one. Gradual is best in any case, so plan on submitting to 25-100 directories a week and you will be on target. It is important to keep track of what directories you have already submitted to so that you don’t duplicate your work. First, that’s a big waste of time for you and second, most directories will punish you for submitting your website URL multiple times.

Just a small sampling of the paid directories that are out there:

  • Yahoo!
  • elib.org
  • This Is Your Year
  • WhatUSeek
  • Business.com
  • A few of the free directories that are available:

  • dmoz
  • vlib.org
  • Open Directory Project
  • World Site Index
  • lii.org
  • webworldindex.com
  • Internet Public Library
  • info-listings
  • Niche directories are also useful and important for your website, especially if you are trying to shift your focus to niche marketing. These directories cater to one specific area of interest such as women, mothers, cars, electronics, celebrity gossip, etc. You can run a search for these directories using a search engine and begin looking for those that specifically target your industry. There are websites that have already compiled lists of niche directories that might be of interest to you, so check them out and see if they have what you need. Web Directories’ listing of niche directories, DirectoryNiche.com , and Internet Search Engine Database’s niche directory list are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to niche directories. Put in some time and find the best ones for you!

    Submitting your website to directories can be a huge time commitment and if you don’t have that kind of time perhaps the best solution is to outsource. There are many companies that handle directory submissions. Most of these companies charge between ten and fifteen cents per free directory submission and have various packages that let you choose how many directories you want ranging from one hundred to several thousand. Using a qualified outside firm will save you the time and administrative headaches that come with managing the directory submission process.

    If you decide to handle the directory submissions for your website yourself, then be sure to pay attention to the requirements for each directory. Every directory has its own system and some difference in their policies for how to submit your URL and information to their site. Be certain that you use correct spelling and grammar as this represents your company in a very public way. Also, if a directory is manually edited there is a good chance that they will reject your site for such sloppy work.

    However, if you go this route be sure to take some time and comparison shop and evaluate your options. Looking over the competition you can see a range of prices, various quality of directories they submit your site to, and different reporting tools so you know what has been done and what hasn’t. Also, look carefully at the spelling and grammar used on these business websites because if they can’t spell things correctly on their own site they sure as heck aren’t going to spell things correctly for you and that puts your website at risk for rejection by the directories and makes you look bad when the links go public.

    Whatever you write as your company profile or summary be sure that it is timeless and will hold up to being on the web for several years. Try to describe your stock or service in general terms rather than listing individual products or even brands. If you sell sports equipment then list the kind of sports such as tennis, golf and soccer gear rather than saying Wilson, Nike and Puma since you may change brands over time.

    Whether you handle your directory submissions strategy or you hire out the process be sure that you submit to directories over time rather than all at once. The big search engines take notice of how you get inbound links and use it in their pagerank calculations. If Yahoo! or Google sees that your website went from having only twenty-five inbound links to have four hundred or a thousand in just a week they know that you probably did it by blitzing the directory submissions rather than in the organic interest in your site. Take your time and submit your website to a limited number of directories at a time so that you can build the links more in a slow and steady way.