Web directories can provide a boost to traffic, both directly and indirectly. There are some basic rules and guidelines you should be aware of before submitting your site to any of them to maximise your chances of being listed.
Directories like DMOZ (the Open Directory Project, or ODP), Yahoo, GoGuides, Zeal and Bluefind, all have criteria that sites that wish to be added must meet. Failing to meet one of these criteria at any directory will, most likely, prevent your site from being listed. Try to ensure you have met the criteria below before you submit to any of these directories, to give yourself the best chance of a listing.
Before we get to the criteria themselves, you may be wondering why it is important to be listed in directories at all, and rightly so. They usually do not provide huge amounts of direct traffic, and you are usually just adding one more site to a list of sometimes hundreds of competing ones. However, they still do provide a useful service.
Despite the lack of massive volumes of traffic, directories do provide a trickle. Most web sites wish for all the traffic they can handle, and while Google is top dog today, directing a vast amount of traffic around the web, who is to say what will happen tomorrow. If directories play a big part in the success of whichever search engine knocks Google off the top spot, you would do well to be listed in advance of that.
Web directories increase the number of in-bound links you have. Each listing will be another inbound link to your site, and many search engines now include link-popularity as a factor in the ordering of their results listings. Some directories are reproduced as well, like DMOZ, so one listing in DMOZ can easily turn into two or three hundreds in-bound links. No bad thing.
Ensure you have unique content, and a decent amount of it.
The purpose of most directories is not to list the same thing over and over again. For that reason, they insist upon unique content. This is especially relevant for affiliate sites, that often offer the same products as the site they are affiliated to, but with a different look. That would count as a site with the same content, and will not be listed. It is very important that you ensure that your site has a good amount of unique content before submitting to web directories.
The same applies to the quantity of content. A directory will have little reason to list a one-page site with a couple of photos of Dublin in Winter, without content. Before submitting, make sure that your site has enough content to be worth linking to, because if it doesn't, the directory editors just won't add it. A site under construction is as big a turn off, so make sure your site looks complete before submission.
Check your site is stable.
An editor from a directory may visit your site at any point, and may visit several times. A site that is unavailable on a regular basis will not be accepted to a directory, or may be removed if already listed. Make sure your site is available as much of the time as possible, especially when submitting. The same applies to the content of the site - make sure that there are as few broken links as possible, as a site with lots of broken links will almost certainly be rejected.
Check your site is accessible.
Although you may be using Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP with a screen resolution of 1024 by 768, there is a good chance that the editor who reviews your site is not. The same applies to users as well - if an editor cannot view a site properly because he or she is using Opera, Mozilla or Safari, there is a good chance they will not list your site. Make sure your site works in as many browsers as possible, but at the very least it must work in recent versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla and Opera, and should degrade well when viewed in older browsers. Ideally, it should also work with screen-readers and PDAs, as well as Mac and Linux based browsers (Safari and IE5 (Mac) and Konqueror and Galeon (Linux) should also be used for testing if possible).
Select your category (or categories) appropriately.
You may have reason to list your site in more than one category in a directory, however editors usually frown on this. Try to submit your site to the most appropriate category for it. If your site would fit in both a normal category and a "regional" category, then two listings may be allowed, but this is the exception to the rule, and does not apply to all directories. It is also tempting to try and submit your site to the category nearest the "top" of the tree, however this may result in your submission being denied if it is not the most appropriate place for it.
Prepare your submission details.
Usually before submission, it is a good idea to prepare a selection of text snippets to cut and paste into the relevant boxes during the submission process. Not only will this save you a little time, but writing your description and selecting your keywords at this stage will allow you some time to think about what you are writing. It is easy enough to open up a copy of notepad (or any text editor) and write down all of the text snippets you'll need while submitting - your name, email address, site name, site URL, description and keywords.
The description of the site is especially important, so do take your time writing it. Try to avoid sales hype in your text, as that may well affect your ability to be listed. Write your description in plain language, describing as accurately and succinctly as possible the contents of the site.
Read the submission guidelines for each engine carefully.
Each of the web directories has its own set of rules and guidelines. While this list covers the common points, there are often extra rules specific to each directory that you should be aware of before submitting. The list of directories at the bottom of this page also includes links to each directory's submission guidelines - you would be wise to check them before submitting your site.
DMOZ is the Open Directory Project, a massive, human-edited directory, and probably the most reproduced one of them all. It is the basis for the Google directory, among many others. It is free to submit to, and submissions may take anything up to six months (and sometimes even longer) to be processed. Patience is required when submitting to DMOZ. DMOZ is well worth submitting to, because apart from anything else, it is reproduced so much over the web that one listing can turn into 200 within a few months.
Yahoo is probably the most famous web directory you will find. There is an annual fee to pay if you wish to be listed on the Yahoo.com directory, but some of the national ones, eg Yahoo.co.uk, have a free listing available.
Looksmart operates on a pay-per-click basis, meaning that you pay for every single person who clicks on a link to your site from Looksmart. The price does vary depending on your chosen keywords.
Zeal is a directory for non-commercial listings. It does feed the LookSmart directory as well as its own, and is used by many people as a way to list articles in LookSmart for free.
[url=http://www.goguides.org]GoGuides[/url], [url=http://www.joeant.com]JoeAnt[/url], [url=http://www.skaffe.com]Skaffe[/url] and [url=http://www.web-beacon.com/]Web-Beacon[/url]
Originally, there was just Go.com. When that closed, two new directories sprang up in its place, created by ex editors of Go - GoGuides and JoeAnt. Division amongst the owners of GoGuides (it appears) has led to two other directories being set up with copies of the GoGuides database - Skaffe and Web-Beacon. All of these usually cost money to submit to, and they can be worth the expense, however that is not true for all sites, and you should consider submissions to these carefully before proceeding. Also, some of these four offer free listings from time to time, so you may wish to simply wait for one of those occasions, though there is no way to tell how long you may be waiting for.
Gimpsy offer both an express paid listing and a free listing option (currently the wait for free listing is at least four months). Gimpsy is unusual in that it lists sites according to "actions" rather than in a traditional category structure.
BlueFind is a very new directory, but is growing quickly, and may be worth submitting to. There is a small fee for all sites to be processed, and usually submissions are dealt with quickly and efficiently.
There are literally hundreds of other directories on the web that specialise, unlike the above, in one specific area. These are niche directories, and it is definitely worth the time and effort required to find these and submit your site to them. They will generate more targeted traffic to your site, though there may not be huge amounts of it, and can benefit your link popularity more than the larger directories, due to the consistency of the theming throughout the smaller directories.
And more - DMOZ has a [url=http://dmoz.org/Computers/Internet/Searching/Directories/]category devoted just to web directories[/url], with over 1000 listed. Not all of them are worth your while to submit to, but many will be. This category is especially useful for locating the niche directories specifically relevant to your web site.