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 (www.dmoz.org), 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 (www.alltheweb.com). and AltaVista (www.altavista.com). 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:
Although it is always a good idea for your Web site to get listed in directories, beware of a few pitfalls:
Despite the challenges, paid directory listings are among the best investments you can make, and the steps to get them are simple.
How to Get Started
There are three steps to get listed in a directory:
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 resource-zone.com/forum to check on your submission's status.