If you’ve thought at all about optimizing your website for search engines, then you’ve probably considered submitting it to directories.
We all know you need links to rank on search engines and links are hard to get. Compared to other options, directory submissions are straightforward and the likelihood of success is high.
But you’ve also probably read that directory submissions have little effect, or that in some cases they can actually be harmful.
So, should you do it? Is it worth it?
It Depends on How Many Links You Already Have
If your website is well established, has a ton of high quality links, and ranks fairly well already, you can probably skip the directories.
Remember that the value of a link is roughly proportional to how hard it is to get. Because directory links are relatively easy, they’re less valued by Google and other search engines than, say, a link from within a blog post on a high-profile blog.
So if you have a great buckling profile already, adding a few directory links is not likely to help you much. The possible exceptions are Yahoo.com and Business.com (see below).
By contrast, if your site is has limited backlinks, then you should probably submit to at least a handful of directories. These will help give you an initial web footprint.
It Depends on Which Directories You’re Considering
There are a lot of directories out there, ranging from great and extremely valuable, to positively harmful. When evaluating directories, you should have two things in mind: high quality and relevant.
A high quality directory is one that has high standards. Submissions are reviewed by real editors, and websites are rejected if they are low quality or non-relevant.
A relevant directory is one that has lots of high quality sites that are relevant to yours. Photography directories are good. Directories where you are lumped in with bingo, casinos, and iphones are generally not.
Two of the highest quality general directories are dir.yahoo.com and business.com. Both of these are paid directories. But if you are willing to invest in your SEO, most professional SEO will advise that you submit to these.
Apart from the big two above, the best directories to consider are photography-specific directories. Here are some good possibilities:
- Photolinks: www.photolinks.com
- Photographers Index: photographersindex.com
- The Photographer Directory: the-photographer-directory.com
- Photography & Photographers: www.photographyphotographers.com
- Photography Pros: www.photographypros.com
- Photographers.com: www.photographers.com
- Photoclicks: www.photoclicks.net
- Cool Photoblogs: www.coolphotoblogs.com
- DPhotoJournal: www.dphotojournal.com/photography-directory/
- Photography Sites: www.photographysites.com
- Photography Corner: www.photographycorner.com/directory
- Best Wedding Sites: www.bestweddingsites.com
- Wedding Photography Directory: www.weddingphotographydirectory.com
- Wedding Photo USA: www.weddingphotousa.com
It Depends on Whether You Can Get Relevant Anchor Text
This is a consideration that doesn’t occur to most people. “Anchor text” is the actual text used in the link back to your site. Usually, most sites use your business name as your anchor text. If you are John Smith Photography, then most directories will link to you using John Smith Photography.
The important point here is that link anchor text matters, not just the link itself. If other websites link to you as “John Smith Photography” then Google assumes you should rank well for that phrase. If other sites link to you as a “Chicago wedding photographer,” then Google will assume you can rank for that phrase. In short, Google weighs anchor text almost as much as the quantity or quality of links to your site.
So even if you have a strong link profile, if there are ways you can get high quality directory links that use your all or part of your desired keywords in the link anchor text, then you should submit to those directories.
There’s a catch, of course. Generally, high quality directories don’t allow you to do play with keywords like this. They’ll automatically link to you with your business name. You can sometimes find ways around this, but they require creativity and diligence: finding the right directories, planning your business name around your keywords, using partial keywords, etc.
For more, also see our Photographer Guide to Link Directory Submissions.
Have you submitted to directories? Do you think it helped your rankings? Let us know!
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