How to Use Web Directories to Boost Traffic to Your Site
by: Robert Burko
You just got your website online. Everything is setup and you're ready to go. Excitement is high and the time has come to open your virtual doors to the millions and millions of Internet users around the globe. You put out the cyber welcome mat and declare your site ready for action. But, instead of sitting and watching the users trample over one another to get to your site, you see little to no traffic.
Don't worry! This is something every webmaster goes through and is to be expected. (Well, webmasters in the late 90's expected to launch their site and be millionaires the next morning, but times have changed since those wonderful days!)
But there are some quick and easy things you can do to begin building your 'link network,' which will ultimately help drive traffic to your site. Since the Internet's conception, the notion has been that sites link to one another, while web surfers click from place to place. Thus, the challenge begins: Get your site linked to as many others as possible.
You can start contacting other websites offering to trade links (but be prepared to invest a lot of time); you can buy links (but be prepared to fork out some cash); you can join link-trading programs (but be prepared to get a lot of irrelevant sites linking to you); or you can start submitting your website to web directories.
What Is A Web Directory?
A web directory is a compilation of sites organized by category or topic. Most web directories have multiple levels of categories, progressing from general to highly specific. In addition, a web directory editor will likely have to approve your site, lending it at a certain degree of credibility. Being listed in a directory ensures that if a web surfer finds their way into a specific category, they don't just see your competitors, they see you! And, if they can see your link, they can click it, producing traffic to your site.
A Web Directory Listing Helps with SEO
If you have a website, you undoubtedly know the importance of ranking well in Google and other major search engines. These search engines count links from other sites as votes for your site, which helps determine your ranking, or position in the search results. There are a lot of other parts of the algorithm and this brief explanation doesn't do it justice. However, it serves the point that links improve your ranking, and that's something every website owner needs to know.
A link in a directory that is spidered by Google (and a lot are) will count as a vote for your site. This improves your ranking, and yet again helps drive traffic to your site. It's important to note that not all directories help with SEO. Sometimes, a web directory will link to your site through a special URL that is often a programming CGI script. If the URL is not a direct link to your site, then the search engines don't count it as a vote. Therefore, it's best to pick directories that offer a direct one-way link to your site. (This way, you get more bang for your buck: traffic from the directory and improved search engine ranking.)
If you trade links with random sites, then you are theoretically building your 'link network,' but you are sacrificing the quality of that network. Web searchers who are looking for information on a particular topic often use resources that link to a variety of sites related to what they seek. This makes web directories the perfect destination.
Since directories are categorized by topics, a person can arrive in the directory and have one-click access to a variety of resources. You definitely want to be one of those resources! Plus, when the other search engines pick up your link, it will count for more since it is surrounded by relevant content, which is most likely filled with your important keywords.
As you build your link network, you'll continue to see increased traffic. And if you use web directories as your vehicle, you are essentially paving more paths to your site. Several good submissions in popular directories will help get you rolling. The best part is that many directories are free, so this jump start won't even hurt your bottom line.