Directories as Link Partners by Mordechai Chachamu © Copyright. While traditional directories are edited by humans, search engines are pure computational sites. The billions of pages now held in the search engine databases render human intervention impractical. From the gathering of web pages using robots or crawlers to their indexing of that information and finally the ranking of those pages in the search results, it's all done by software and computation. The first two stages (assembling and indexing) are relatively simple, but the third (ranking) presents a much higher challenge. How do the search engines determine which of the many millions of pages that contain a particular word or phrase be shown first? Get it right and people will be using the search engine time and again. Get it wrong and the engine will be dropped like a hot potato. The one engine that seemed to consistently get it right was Google. Its secret was the addition of PageRank -- Google's form of link popularity. According to Google, a link is considered a vote of confidence from one page to another. The more links, the more votes. Moreover, votes from important pages are valued higher than votes from non-important ones. A higher PageRanked page is one that has a lot of other pages voting for it; in other words, it is heavily linked to. Link popularity now plays a significant role in the ranking algorithm of all the major search engines. The challenge for site owners and webmasters is to increase link popularity, which in turn increases the likelihood of pages from their sites appearing high in the search results. One of the best ways to start a link campaign is to get links from directories. If you put the right amount of effort (and money) into it, you can see your link popularity increase significantly in a short space of time. The question is: How to judge the relative merits of directories? Which ones are worth paying for? What elements do you need to look for to help you make an educated decision? Link Types The first and most important consideration is the link type. There are two types of links: Simple Links and Redirected Links. You cannot discover the difference by clicking on them – the outcome is identical, but from the perspective of a link campaign the difference is fundamental. As far as Link Popularity is concerned, the Redirected Link is absolutely worthless. Here is why: A Simple Link is a link that contains the target URL of the site and directly points to it, as in this link: http://www.target-site.com. On the other hand, a Redirected Link points to a URL inside the current site, usually to a script file, and the address of the target site is passed to the script as a parameter, like this: http://www.this-site.com/jump.php?www.target-site.com . You can check the type of links used by a Directory by observing the 'Status bar' while hovering your mouse over the links. When a Search Engine visits a Directory that uses Redirected Links, it does not get from it the 'vote of confidence' for the linked sites – as they do not show up as links at all! If anything, such links only 'strengthen' the internal script page, as there may be thousands of links pointing to it. Your site, if listed in such a Directory, will not see any of it. Page Visibility To gain link popularity, the search engine must know that you are listed in the directory. In other words, the search engine must capture the pages of the directory and index them. Only then can it add the link from the directory to your site to your link popularity. Find out if the directory has good presence in all the search engines. You will soon discover that some search engines are notoriously difficult to get indexed by, while others are relatively easy. A good spread of page visibility among several search engines increases the chances of your site being picked up and indexed by them too. Thus, not only will you gain in link popularity, but also your site will be present in their index! PageRank and Backward Links Not all links are created equal -- some are more important than others. If you have the Google toolbar installed, it will give you a rough estimate of the page's PageRank (PR) using a scale of 0 to 10. A directory with a high PR is more important than a directory with a low PR. A directory with many sites linking to it (backward links) is more important than a directory with just a few. The devil, as always, is in the details, so it pays to pay attention to them. Invariably, the home page of the directory will have the highest PR, but very few (if any) sites will be listed there. You should try to examine the PR of the specific category in which your site will be listed to get an idea of the strength of vote you are likely to receive from it. For example, although DMOZ has an exceptionally high PR of 9 on its home page, the deep categories may be just PR 4 or less. There is nothing wrong with a PR of 4, quite the contrary, but it is not exceptional. In Return While some directories provide a totally free, no-strings-attached submission option, many directories expect or require something in return. In most cases it's simply money, ranging from a few dollars to several hundred. A few require an annual subscription to keep your site listed, but most are satisfied with a one-time payment. In addition to (or instead of) payment, some directories insist on getting a link from you before they agree to list your site. Others may require you to agree to get periodic emails that include promotional material for various products. Still others suggest that your site will only be listed if you join them and become an editor. There are many variations, and some directories offer several options to site owners. How can you make a good decision when faced with so many options and considerations? The answer lies in limiting your options and dealing with just a few directories. First, you must establish your goals for your link campaign. Is it traffic, link popularity or both? Then compare the sites that meet your requirements and rank them according to how closely they match. Finally, add the required payment or any other condition imposed by each directory to your ranking considerations. Once you've done all of the above, all that's left for you to do is visit each of your chosen directories, follow their guidelines and submit your site! ================================================================ Mordechai Chachamu is the CEO of Gimpsy (http://www.gimpsy.com), a unique directory that classifies interactive sites according to the online activity provided by them. Submitting a site to Gimpsy entitles the user to a special extended free trial of the Strongest Links (http://www.strongestlinks.com) facilities. ================================================================
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