Free Directory Submission: What to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

Free Directory Submission: What to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

Looking for quick easy links? Be careful what you wish for...

Despite rumours, directory listings are still useful!  These listings help diversify your link portfolio and will help boost rankings when used with other link building methods such as:

  • Articles
  • Link bait
  • Blogging

What to Avoid

avoid bad directories

Signs of dodgy directories:

The directory has more ads than content

The directory loses its main focus, which is to act as an index of links. The site loses value for the user and Google will deem it either irrelevant or not worth caching. Listing your link here is about as useful as Paddy Moogan without Twitter.


The site is promoting the sale of links

I’m going to let Google explain this one:

“Your site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity. However, some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results.”

The PageRank has been faked

It is still possible to fake Pagerank, and there are methods to check this. If a site needs to fake its PageRank, chances are there is something wrong...stay clear.

There are thousands of links in each category

Not much PageRank to be passed on to your website here. If Google even decides to index the directory in the first place.

The directory wants to exchange links

This isn’t entirely a bad practice, the directory wants you to link back to them in order to increase their PageRank. I don’t do this simply because there is no value for me...selfish I know.

The website doesn’t function properly (broken links, misplaced graphics, “INSERT AD HERE”)

Broken links, blank advertisements and general malfunction of the site suggests the directory has been abandoned. Don’t bother.

The words “SEO Friendly” always ring alarm bells

Directories in essence are supposed to be SEO friendly, you don’t need to tell me that.  You’ll notice with these types of directories that there will always be an option to submit to multiple directories for a fee, either directly on the page or in an email confirmation after you’ve submitted your link.  Paying for links to manipulate search engine rankings are against Google’s webmaster guidelines and you run the risk of  being penalized or banned. Better safe than sorry mate.

The directory has been penalized or banned by Google

How can you tell? Search Google for the directory URL, if it doesn’t show up its either brand new, or banned. These links stand a chance of lowering your website rankings, so steer clear.

The directory contains adult material

My apologies to anyone in the Adult industry, but they typically aren’t the best places to associate 90% of products or services offered throughout the internet.

Tips & Tricks

Figure out what keywords you want to rank for

Write 5 different titles & descriptions for your listing (including the keywords)

Once you get to the directory site, browse to the category you think is most relevant to your listing. Then find the “submit URL” link.  If you don’t do this, you may end up searching forever in a list boxwith hundreds of different categories.

Enable Auto-Complete! Use a browser like Firefox or Chrome that will save the information you entered in the title, description and email fields, so you can quickly submit to the directories

Alternate your titles, and descriptions. You don’t want to come off looking like spam, and it gives you a chance to rank for long tail searches

Using an email address with the same domain as your listing adds credibility

Some directories require an email confirmation, and need to be confirmed within a set time or your listing is automatically deleted. Check your email!

Here are some of the directories that meet the criteria to be considered valuable:

Let us know what you think.

What are your favourite directories?

Have you seen your rankings improve with free directory listings?


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Dave Sottimano

Dave Sottimano

David Sottimano comes from a varied background in Corporate Marketing and Professional Sales. His love affair between the internet and marketing has finally found the perfect balance at Distilled, and continues to flourish each day. He graduated...   read more

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  1. Howdy David,

    Great reminder, thanks. I'm generally scared of directories, but I think I'll give the ones you listed a second look.

    What's your opinion of submitting to for companies who don't have much relevancy to their categories? Such as a local water sport company for example.

    reply >
  2. @Donnie (IPL2) is only interested in informational resources unfortunately. If the local water sport company's primary goal is to sell a product or service, it is highly unlikely that the IPL2 will feature the link.

    You can read their collection policy here:

    Here's my advice, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. If you can't get the water sport company listed, look for relevant websites that ARE listed that you could potentially get links from.

    I've done some research for you:

    Look up "water sport" and you'll find a website called (

    Here's where they are listed:

    If you can persuade the local water sport company to write insightful, informational content (perhaps on their blog), it might land them a link with

    The websites that are listed in the ipl2 are not going to be competitors, and most likely respected websites since they've been listed in the first place.

    This is your best shot. Good luck Donnie, let us know how it works out.

    reply >
  3. Some of those directories you mentioned aren't actually free. In fact, I think only Dmoz is free (but nigh impossible to get a new site listed on).

    reply >
  4. David

    Thanks for the catch, those are some of my top paid directories. It's been updated, thanks.

    reply >
  5. Donnie Cooper


    Fantastic advice! Thank you David, much appreciated!

    reply >
  6. This is a great post about SEO. Directories are pretty necessary, everyone knows that. But how necessary is the question? there are so many directories its hard to know which ones are good and which ones arent..

    reply >
  7. Nick C

    You would need to be back linked from a fair number of 'dodgy sites' or these would have to make up a high percentage of your overall links before it had a negative impact. Ok they wont increase your rankings but how easy would it be for google bowling to happen if all it took was a few bad links???

    reply >
  8. David - the second link is broken, its linking to just www. and not http:// and thus its trying to make it a relative link.

    Otherwise, good post!

    reply >
  9. I think that Dircetories are useful for marketing purposes.

    Although only a small amount of traffic will come from them, try to look for the higher ranking ones or ones that score highest when searching for your competitor's names.

    reply >
  10. David

    @ Jon Payne Thank you for the catch

    @ Jason B You're right. It's meant to add and diversify a link profile - directories where you can expect traffic from tend to be local business directories, review sites, and the (unfortunately) manipulated Google local.

    reply >
  11. A lot of people seem to say that Dmoz is difficult to get into, but I've managed to get a number (6) of new sites listed in it quite quickly this year.
    It's still worth a go.

    reply >
  12. @Simon That's great news, do you have any tips for getting your site accepted into DMOZ? Anything specific you've done that may have helped your application? Let us know! Thanks for the comment.

    reply >
  13. DMOZ isn't hard to get into, I've had several myself in the last few years. The key is to be very VERY selective in the category you choose to submit your URL to. It can be a tad confusing due to the sheer number of categories available, and the fact that your biz or website could be considered for more than one. Decide what the one main goal or purpose of your website is, and that will help determine which category to submit to. If the editor of that particular category thinks it belongs elsewhere, they usually approve it, but move it to it's proper category. You may or may not agree with it though.
    Also, don't copy and paste info from your website or elsewhere. Write an original description using 1 or 2 relevant keywords, but don't keyword stuff it.
    Lastly, if your just not getting any response keep in mind that there may not even be an editor for your particular category. Consider applying for the spot yourself.

    Stay Social, Mike

    reply >
  14. Hello! Thanx for your tips.

    I generally use directories for SEO.

    Another method to find valuable directories is to search for high search volume keywords, and then scan the first domains the serps for their backlinks.

    There is a big chance that between backlinks you ll find some directories. So you have a pure list of working directories.

    It is more easy going for small markets, like mine (Greece).

    reply >
  15. Fantastic advice! Thank you

    reply >

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