Directory Listings

Directory listings were the first of the paid vehicles within search and are commonly done at a site known as a directorya site typically maintained by human editors who list Web sites by their subject. Figure 3-2 shows that someone looking for information can sometimes find things more easily by navigating directories than by searching. Searchers looking for "hospital whiteboard" might find nothing useful, but by following directory links find exactly what they are looking for.

Figure 3-2. Using directory listings. Sometimes people can find what they want using a directory when searching for the same thing would end in failure.

Directory listings typically guarantee you a blurb about your Web site (or a part of your Web site), with no promise of where you will show up in the list (top? bottom? middle of the pack?) or how many people will click your link. The directory's editors decide what subject category to use for your site, although you can request a specific category. Most organizations get just one link from a single category to their site's home page, but medium-to-large companies that have Web pages on multiple subjects can get multiple directory listings.

Yahoo! was the original directory, and is still the most important. Although Yahoo! has expanded as a company into many other pursuits, ranging from organic search to e-mail to shopping, the Yahoo! Directory was how it all started. None of the other paid directories, such as LookSmart, are critical for search marketers to target nowadays because they have plummeted in popularity.

One free entrant, Open Directory (, uses volunteers as editors and is the only competitor to Yahoo! Directory worth spending any time on. Open Directory is also referred to as ODP (Open Directory Project), but its most interesting alias is DMOZ (Directory Mozilla), so named because it is the open source directory counterpart to the open source Mozilla browser.

Directories frequently syndicate their results to many sites. Yahoo! shows its directory at several search sites, including Yahoo! itself, AlltheWeb ( and AltaVista ( Almost all search engines show Open Directory results, including Google (as its Google Directory) and AOL Search. Remember, however, that far fewer searchers use directories than use search queries.

Directories are an inexpensive way to get attention for your site, and they help your search result rankings, too, just as links from any well-respected sites do. Search marketers need to target Yahoo! Directory and Open Directory in their plansin fact, getting a directory listing is often the first thing to do when starting out with search marketing. Let's take a closer look at how directories can be part of your search strategy.

What It Costs

Open Directory is free. For the longest time, Yahoo! Directory was, too, but today Yahoo! offers free directory listings only for nonprofit organizations. Yahoo! charges an annual fee for every directory listing by a for-profit business.

Currently, Yahoo! charges $299 for a site submission ($600 for "adult" sites), which guarantees only that your site will be reviewed. That means Yahoo! charges you, and then it examines your site to decide whether it will be listed. If your site is rejected, the money is not refunded, even though your site is not listed.

When accepted as a Site Listing, your Web site is ranked in alphabetic order by your organization's name. The $299 fee covers the review and a one-year listing. If you fail to renew your listing in 12 months, it is deleted.

If many people click your link, it might be added to a special Most Popular list that is shown above the alphabetic site listings. If your site is not popular, you might be able to upgrade a Site Listing to a Sponsor Listing that shows your site above the alphabetic list (in addition to its place in the alphabetic list) for between $50 and $300 per month, depending on the category. Yahoo! Directory limits the number of Sponsor Listings it accepts, so you might already be shut out by your competitors. In Figure 3-3, you can see an example of a company that upgraded to a Sponsor Listing.

Figure 3-3. High-visibility directory listings. You can upgrade to a Sponsor Listing in Yahoo! Directory to be displayed at the top of the heap.

Reproduced with permission of Yahoo! Inc. © 2005 by Yahoo! Inc. YAHOO! and the YAHOO! logo are trademarks of Yahoo! Inc.

Although Open Directory is free, you might find that you pay for it in other waysnamely, your time. You need to be patient waiting for the editors to consider your site, and you might need to follow up several times to finally get their attention. For some, saving $300 is not worth the aggravation.

The Benefits and Challenges

It is wise for a search marketer to pursue directory listings, both paid (Yahoo! Directory) and free (Open Directory) for several reasons, including the following:

  • Increased traffic. Although Web users have gravitated more to full-text search the past few years, a sizable amount of traffic still pours in from directory listings. Web users still use directories in large numbers, and your site benefits from those extra visitors.

  • Improved search rankings. As discussed in Chapter 2, "How Search Engines Work," one of the ways search engines decide which pages to show first is by analyzing links to each matching page. Links to your site from a reputable directory are influential because your site passed a human editor's quality test. Search engines weigh links from Yahoo! Directory and Open Directory heavily when ranking search resultswe cover this topic in depth in Chapter 13, "Attract Links to Your Site." It is possible that Sponsor Listings and Most Popular links, because they add extra links to your page, might help search rankings above what the alphabetic Site Listing link brings.

  • Simplicity. Unlike many search marketing techniques, directory listings are simple. You can submit exactly the wording that you want to appear in your blurbyou have no pesky content or technology changes to make to your siteand no technical expertise is required.

  • Low cost. For most businesses, $300 is a small price to pay for the benefits that paid listings provide, and an Open Directory entry is free. Almost any other search marketing technique costs more, so this is often the best way to start your search marketing.

Although it is always a good idea for your Web site to get listed in directories, beware of a few pitfalls:

  • Lack of responsiveness. Yahoo! Directory responds to paid submissions within seven days, but makes no promises for free (nonprofit) submissions. Likewise, Open Directory has no committed turnaround time for your submissions. To make matters worse, some companies have complained that when they have been listed under the wrong category, it took weeks to get Yahoo! to correct the error, and Open Directory is even slower.

  • Editorial changes. Although you can submit under any subject category, and you can send in any words that you want used, sometimes directory editors wield their red pens. What shows up in the listing is what the editor put there, even though it might not be what you wanted (or might not even be accurate).

  • Limited exposure. Whereas organic search can bring up any page on your site, directories link just to the home page of most businesses. Larger Web sites might be granted a dozen entries under different subject categories, and large, popular Web sites might have a hundred links, but that is about the limit. You cannot easily point someone deep within your site the way organic search can. Moreover, fewer visitors will come to your site from directories than from search engines.

Despite the challenges, paid directory listings are among the best investments you can make, and the steps to get them are simple.


If one directory listing for your company is good, wouldn't 20 be better? Yes, but the directories do not usually hand out so many. They are directories of Web sites, and typically list only the home page of a site under its appropriate category.

WebMD, the popular health information site (, believed it had a case for multiple directory entries because it has more than 100 disease and illness condition centers, each with hundreds of pages of information.

WebMD submitted 25 of its condition-center URLs to Yahoo! Directory (paying the fees) and were granted a directory listing for each one. But the Open Directory editors were tougher. Open Directory rarely provides a Web site with multiple listings. WebMD spent six months working with the editors in various categories in Open Directory, arguing that each condition center was equal in quality to the Web sites that were already listed in the categories.

Persistence paid off. Today, WebMD has about 50 Open Directory listings.

How to Get Started

There are three steps to get listed in a directory:


You submit your site. To submit to Open Directory or Yahoo! Directory, you navigate to the subject category that best describes your site, and then click the Suggest URL link (Open Directory) or Suggest a Site link (Yahoo! Directory), as shown in Figure 3-4.

Figure 3-4. Submitting your site to a directory. You can "Suggest a Site" within Yahoo! Directory and "Suggest URL" within Open Directory to submit yours.

Reproduced with permission of Yahoo! Inc. © 2005 by Yahoo! Inc. YAHOO! and the YAHOO! logo are trademarks of Yahoo! Inc. Reproduced courtesy of the Open Directory Project. Please visit for more information.


Editors review your site. When the editors review your submission, they examine all of the information in your submission form and visit your live site.


Editors list your site. If your site checks out, it will be listed. The editors choose exactly which subject category your site is listed under, and they edit the words in your blurb.

Typically sites are accepted, but if your site does not clearly identify your company, or if it cannot be viewed by all Web browsers, or your site is under construction, or it is not available all the time, your site might be rejected for a listing. Yahoo! reserves the right to reject sites for other reasons, too, but it rarely does.

Whereas Yahoo! Directory promises turnaround to paid submissions within a week, Open Directory uses volunteer editors who review thousands of submissions each month. It usually takes months for an Open Directory submission to be accepted as a listing, but do not resubmit if you get impatientthat just moves you to the end of the line. Instead, visit to check on your submission's status.

    Search Engine Marketing, Inc. Driving Search Traffic to Your Company's Web Site
    Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Companys Web Site (2nd Edition)
    ISBN: 0136068685
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2005
    Pages: 138

    Similar book on Amazon © 2008-2017.
    If you may any questions please contact us: