Check the site has a strong result for domain age (that is, it wasn’t created five minutes ago), domain authority, Alexa rank (popular with ‘real’ people) and Google PageRank. All these trust factors help show that the site is worthwhile being listed on.
Does the directory rank well for your chosen category? Basically – try typing in your chosen keyword phrase (e.g., copywriter Sydney) and see which directories rank highly. It’s probably worth listing on those that appear in the first three or four search engine results pages.
You get what you pay for (sometimes)
Free listings sites are often not as good as paid ones.
If the site has auto submission, with no human checking your listing, the quality probably isn’t that great.
Keep good company
If the site allows dodgy listings from gambling sites, porn or ‘get rich quick’ schemes – again, it’s probably not a great idea to list your site there.
A suitable category
If the site is good it will have distinct categories for all companies. Choose the one most relevant to your industry. Sites that just link randomly with no organised structure are not worth bothering with.
Keyword-saturated back links
June 2014: It’s not longer the go to include a relevant keyword (so for me that would be ‘copywriter or seo consultant’) in the back link to your website. Instead go with your brand name or URL.
Keep it local
Google likes local directories. (In Australia it even uses reviews from Truelocal.com.au in it’s Google Places listings.) So try to find a legitimate directory in your local city. Adding your site to hotfrog and Gumtree certainly does no harm.
Here are a few good directories I recommend:
Little and often
Rather than submitting your site to 1,000 directories in a single day, try to spread out your linking over a period of time. Google is likely to see any spike in directory submission as spamming and your site might be penalised.
Mix it up
If you use directories solely to drive links, you probably won’t see the SEO result you want. Try to create a mix of keyword-saturated back links from social media sites, comments and guest posts on respected blog, article submissions, reciprocal links on friend’s websites and the like. It’s also worth finding a site in the same industry as yours but in a different country – so no direct competition, as Google likes links from ‘site type a’ to ‘site type a’.
For more on this subject, checkout the following articles:
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