Web Directories: All You Need to Know

Remember the classic yellow pages where you used to find a telephone number for a company? A web directory is the online counterpart of the classic yellow pages. And you can list your business on web directories in the same manner.

Web directories were the search engines of the early Internet age. Now, it’s an outdated method to look for something on the Internet. But that doesn’t mean that we stopped using web directories. We use online directory listings for a lot more things.

When was the last time that you ordered a pizza from a local pizza parlor? Most probably, you searched Google for something like “pizza shop near me”. You were able to find the shop that you like because they have a strong online presence.

Searching “pizza shop near me” on Google gives the nearest pizza stores in your area.

Optimizing your profile on web directories will help your business stand out from the listings. This is true especially if your business thrives on local consumers. We’ll get to everything that you need to know when it comes to web directories.

The Birth of Web Directories

When the Internet started, there were only a few website owners and users. There were also no search engines that can be used. You need a good memory to remember all the domain names of all your favorite websites.

But, as people started showing up on the Internet, remembering the domain names became so much harder. That’s why Yahoo! decided to make a directory for all the famous websites on the Internet. Now, you only need to go to Yahoo! to access all of your favorite websites.

Yahoo! directory had multiple categories to sort out different websites.

The list was alphabetized and categorized to make it easier for search algorithms to give you the best of the web. Soon, web directories made money by boosting search results and selling ad space on their websites.

Fun Fact: The name Amazon.com used to be Cadabra Inc. However, Amazon starts with the letter “A” and can be seen easily on web directories.

The Death of Web Directories

With the Internet growing bigger, web directories became less accurate when it comes to search results. It became harder for users to find what they are looking for. Good results were also mixed up with the bad ones, making it inconvenient to use.

Thus, search engines took over the place of directories. With a search engine, you don’t need to browse for categories. All you need to do is input your search query and the engine will do the rest for you.

Some might claim that web directories are still useful in finding what they need on the Internet. But people have been using web directories merely for link building and marketing purposes only. Soon, they realized that it was an inefficient technique with no assurance.

Are Web Directories Bad for SEO?

If you wonder whether web directors are good or bad for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the answer is that web directories are problematic., Web directories once played a vital role in search engine optimization but Google doesn’t value web directories now because of misuse and irrelevancy.

Is Google a Web directory?

Google was a web directory before, but now it is a search engine. Google stopped working as a web directory on July 20, 2011, but it’s important to know the difference between a web directory and a search engine.

Web Directory vs. Search Engine

The main difference between a web directory and a search engine is the way results are brought up. From this difference branches all other differences between a web directory and a search engine.

In a web directory, results are arranged by a real human. Search engines, on the other hand, crawl the Internet using “spiders” or “web crawlers”. These are bots that read web pages all over the World Wide Web.

Another important difference that you need to know is the optimization needed to rank higher. For search engines, on-page and off-page SEO is needed. Your content should also be keyword-optimized to help crawlers understand what your website is all about.

For directories, local SEO (more about this later) is needed to make your business appear more often on queries. Make sure you’re listing your business on the right directory to reach the right customers.

Web Directories for SEO

There was a time when web directories were the go-to basic SEO strategy to rank your website. However, because of the abusive use of the strategy, Google decided to penalize those who use web directories.

Google’s Head of Web SPAM, John Mueller, also said that web directories do little to no impact to increase your traffic. Most people that use a web directory nowadays are digital marketers that use this black hat tactic. Thus, this traffic won’t be converted to your site’s traffic, making this tactic utterly useless.

Placing your link on a web directory will earn you a link from a site that has no organic traffic on its web pages. However, if you are operating locally and your primary consumers are just your neighbors, it’s good to place your business in a business directory.

And you need to understand what local SEO is.

Local SEO

Local SEO is suited for local businesses that need people coming through their brick-and-mortar stores. Most of these businesses only have a single branch – the local community branch. A transaction will only happen if the customer visits the physical store.

What if your business does not make it to the top of the directory listings? Will you still have visitors at your front door?

In reality, yes, you will. Those people passing by your store can be your customers as well. But doing local SEO for your store will further increase your brand’s visibility.

Let’s say you have a restaurant and you want people to easily find it online. When a customer inputs “restaurants near me” on Google, it will search its index for food businesses near your address.

Your website should be listed with the updated NAP (name, address, phone number) details of your business. This will make it easier for Google to pinpoint your location on the map. Make sure to add your website and social media links to the directory to gain visitors.

How to Submit a Website to Directories

You can submit your website to different directories – some for free and some for a fee. The idea is to submit your website to as many directories as possible to increase your brand popularity.

There are also a lot of categories to list your site. Your link should be related to the category where you’ll list your site. Doing this will make it easier for humans who review your submission to find value in your posts.

Here’s a simple step-by-step process of submitting a website to a directory:

1. Double-Check Your Website SEO

Remember that you are submitting your website to a real human being. Make sure that the site you’re presenting is optimized for evaluation. Fix all broken links and pages on your site and provide content that brings value to your visitors.

2. Choose the Right Business Directory

You should list your website only in directories that are related to your business. If you’re running a restaurant, you’ll list your business in Zomato or other directories related to food. This is a great way to increase your brand’s popularity in your niche and your community.

If you list your website under a completely unrelated business directory, the person that reviews your site can mark your link as spam. This can also be harmful to your SEO.

When choosing a business directory, it’s not bad to be picky about it. You have to choose the best directory that will match your content naturally.

3. Choose the Right Category

If you look at a web directory, you will see that there are organized resources based on certain categories. Sometimes it’s hard to choose the right category for your link. Your submission could get denied if you choose the wrong category for your link.

There are a lot of categories to choose from, like these from HighRankDirectory.com

Find the most appropriate category for your blog post. If your article talks about Health, your web listing should be categorized under Health. Some directories also have sub-categories that you can optimize as well.

4. Submit Your Link

The last step that you need to do is to submit your link to the directory. When submitting your link, you have to make sure that you’re submitting the right URL. Fill up the description for your business and don’t forget to include your contact details.

Also, use the real title of your site. Update every detail that you place on every directory. Make sure that everything is consistent across all listings. This will improve the quality of your submission.

Some Tips Before Submitting in Directories

  • Don’t submit just to gain backlinks. Make sure that you’re getting listed in quality directories to maximize your website’s potential.
  • Don’t spam directories with listings. List your website only in relevant categories.
  • Avoid listing your website on a web directory that requires placing a banner on your site. This can harm your SEO.
  • Update your NAP details across all listings.


Dental Directories

List of Paid and Free Directories

As mentioned earlier, using a web directory to increase your site traffic does not work anymore. However, there are web listing sites that are still potent in bringing consumers directly to your front door. Listing your websites on these local directories is a must.

These local directories are reputable and used all over the world, making them acceptable for search engine use. These sites have general users that inquire about all kinds of services.


UK Directories

1. Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is still on the top because of its multifunctionality. It’s connected to the Google search engine and Google Maps for more accurate searches.

Google My Business results can easily overtake organic search results.

Optimizing your resources on GMB can easily gain you a spot on top of Google’s SERP. GMB results appear first when you search for local services. You can easily overtake organic search results in SERP if you optimize your GMB listing.

2. Facebook

Facebook has become more than a social media platform – it also became a business marketing platform for SMEs. Local businesses create Facebook pages that attract a lot of attention. And partnering with Facebook ads will further boost your brand’s visibility online.

An example of a local business page on Facebook.

Your Facebook page should contain resources and links related to your company. It should also contain all contact information for your business. Don’t forget to include pictures, reviews, and location on Google Maps.

3. Apple Maps

With almost two billion iPhones in circulation, Apple Maps is one of the widely-used web directories for companies all over the world. These iOS devices use Apple Maps instead of GMB to search for local businesses around you.

Local businesses appear on Apple Maps upon searching for “restaurants near me”.

Apple Maps also has a high domain authority. Although Apple Maps has a specific niche, it is still used by most iPhone users. The directory is organized and features a lot of sites and general service.

4. Bing Places for Business

Even though Google is the top search engine out there, you can’t discount Bing Places for Business as a directory. Bing is the default search engine used for Microsoft Edge, which is the default browser for Windows OS. Bing Places holds 6th place in Alexa ranking, making it a competitive web directory.

Bing shows results based on location and TripAdvisor recommendations.

After placing your links on these directories, you can research and look for other sites to register your business. Here is a list of paid and free general and business directories:

Free Web Directories

Web DirectoryNiche
Yahoo Small BusinessGeneral
MapQuest (Yext)General
Better Business BureauProfessional
Angie’s ListHome Service
HomeAdvisorHome Service

Paid Web Directories

Web DirectoryNiche
Canny LinkGeneral

Web 2.0 Directories

Web 2.0 directories are listing sites that transitioned to a web 2.0 model. These websites can be used for establishing your brand’s name across different platforms. This will gather your site a good amount of authority.

However, if you’re listing your links on web 2.0 directories for building links, you’re doing it wrong. You could be penalized by Google if you get caught doing this black hat technique.

Here are some examples of web 2.0 directories:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are web directories profitable now?

Web directories are useful for generating an additional amount of money with various options. Here are a few ways to earn money from running a web directory:

  • Selling the lists.
  • Running ads.
  • Marketing to the target audience.
  • Complimentary services.

2. What are the best ways to monetize your web directory?

Selling ads and building a membership directory site are the best ways to monetize your web directory.

3. What is the difference between a web directory and a root directory?

The top of the web directory list is the root directory and the website stores its files in the root hierarchy.

Final Word

Placing your site on a web directory isn’t a means to gain links to your site. This can hurt your site and end up getting penalized by Google.

However, if you want to improve your brand credibility and visibility, focus on improving local SEO and listing your business in local directories. This way, customers will be able to find your brand on the market.

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