Who's helping who when you list your website in an online directory?
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Spending your way out of trouble.

When your web site feels like a voice crying in the wilderness, the temptation is to grab any offer of help that appears on the horizon. It is usualy at this point that directory style web sites with large well organised sales teams will appear promising salvation. Some may be from brands you may have heard of, many will be from smaller directories that exist to promote sites within your business or geographical area.

What is a Web Directory?

These are the Yellow Pages of the Internet carrying adverts to all the business within a certain Industry or location. Some will offer free inclusion for a simple advert, often with no direct link to your own site, and only charging only for a 'Premium' listing, which may include a larger more prominent advert, a position higher up the listings or a page with more details of your business and service and a direct link to your site.

In the early days ofthe Web when Search Engines were still in their infancy, many people would use directories as a means of locating resources on the Web. Names such as Yahoo, DMOZ, AlltheWeb, Gimpsy and others long since forgotten dominated website discovery. These were (and some still are) human edited lists of sites on the web, but as the Web grew and Search Engines got better atfinding what you were really after (and not what the more unscrupulous webmasters wanted you to find), the majority of search on the Web went over to Search Engines (91%of adults who had used the Internet had used a search engine to find information by 2005. [Office of National Statistics, October 2005]).

Are Directory listings worth the money?

It depends upon what the costs are, what the quality of the Directory is and what the quality and quantity of the traffic throughthe directory is. Directories will charge between zero and over £500 for inclusion,and unfortunately there is no relation between the amount charged andthe value of a listing. For example:

  • DMOZ probably the most important general directory to list in and Free, but you may wait some months to get listed.
  • Yahoo UK just behind DMOZ in importance and again Free for a private listing, but a long wait.
  • Gimpsy, great human edited directory that charges a small fee ($49 USD at time of writing).
  • JoeAnt, good human edited directory that charges a small fee or you can volunteer to be an editor and get in for free.
  • Best of the Web great human edited directory that charges a small fee (£99.995 PA or £199.95 one time payment)
  • Skaffe good human edited directory that charges a small fee or you can volunteer to be an editor and get in for free.  
  • Yell.com commercial directory with free listing option, though this will not provide a link to your site
  • Scoot commercial directory with free listing option, though this will not provide a link to your site
  • Splut commercial directory, but has an option to have a free listing, and if you link back will give you a better position

Who do I list my Web Site with?

Well the 'classic' directories are a no brainer. DMOZ and Yahoo area must and should be done as soon as you have a Web Site worth looking at as they will take a while to list your site (these are run by volunteers so give them a break). The other small fee or volunteer editor type directories are also worth it. Essentialy with a new site submitting to the best half a dozen directories relevant to you will get you on the map. After the obvious ones it all gets a bit fuzzy.

Some of the smaller directories closely linked to your Industry are worth while even for small fees. Often these directories are not as big so not as deep, which means your listing is nearer the top of the category. Plus they will carry more weight for your niche if they are full of similar sites. To find directories related to you try searching Google for terms such as:

  • "YOURINDUSTRYKEYWORD + suggest site"
  • "YOURINDUSTRYKEYWORD + add url"
  • "YOURINDUSTRYKEYWORD + directory"

where YOURINDUSTRYKEYWORD is the keywords you are trying to rank your Web Site for.

What is a listing worth to you?

 

When your paying, make sure you work out the bottom line.When you get to the directories charging up to £500 or more for a listing per year it's time to get out the calculator.

  1. First ask for the traffic figures for the page your link will be on, not the home page, not the category page, the actual listing page and divide that figure by 20 to get a 5% click through rate for that page (they may well need to call you back for this, but be patient).
  2. Next look at how many other listings are on that page, and divide the previous figure by that number to get the potential click through rate for your ad (you can improve this figure by writing better ads, but for now we'll take an average). The smaller the number of visitors the more each visitor costs.
  3. If your original traffic figure was in visits per month, then multiply the figure you worked out by twelve and divide your annual fee by that. This gives you your cost per click (write this down we'll need it later).
  4. As a rough estimate 5% of your visitors will convert to actual results (sales, bookings, leads), so multiply the figure you have now by 20 to get your cost per result.
  5. Take this off your average profit per result (the amount you actualy make on a sale or booking) and look at the figure left.

Was it worth it? If the figure is reasonably large then yes, book that ad, if it is low then think seriously about the alternatives before acting. If it is negative then leave well alone. If the Directory cannot give you the figures for your page straight away, ask them to email you when they have them, after all we cannot expect them to have every pages data immediately to hand.

What do I do now?

Make sure you know your Keywords and make sure they're realistic.  Submit to the main directories (DMOZ, Yahoo, etc) in an appropriate, not too crowded category.  Find your niche directories using Google and submit to those that seem worthwhile for your keywords.  Check out the value represented by a listing in the more expensive directories.  Make sure you compare the results of such a listing with the results of using some thing like paid search. If you would like any more information on this or any other aspect of responsible web marketing, please contact Appropriate Solutions for advice.