Search Directory: What Is a Search Directory?

Similar to the yellow pages in a phone book, a search directory is a categorized online index of websites. Unlike search engines, which use web crawlers to visit websites and collect data for indexation, search directories are populated through processes of application and approval.

The Open Directory Project (DMOZ), maintained by a massive global network of volunteer editors, is a well-known example of a search directory.

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Why are search directories important?

Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to all the different practices a website can enact to improve its performance in the organic (non-paid) section of search engine results pages (SERPs). The ultimate goal is to rank on the first page, ideally near the top. Ask yourself: when was the last time you went to the second page of Google search results?

SEO is often divided into two categories of practices: on-page and off-page. For our purposes, we will only discuss the latter. Off-page SEO involves doing work outside of your own website to improve its performance. Although this work can be broken into several strategies, there is one true endgame with off-page SEO: to earn links from other websites to your website. Every time you earn a link from an outside resource, you build a little more Domain Authority—a huge factor behind organic search ranking.

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Getting your site listed in a search directory is important because it creates a strong inbound link to your website. If a directory you’re interested in doesn’t charge an entry fee, it’s definitely worthwhile to apply for a listing. When it comes to Domain Authority, every link counts.

Plus, despite their declining popularity among Internet users, search directories do drive traffic. Again: if it’s free, why not? It’s another way to attract new visitors to your website. And, considering the highly categorized nature of sites like DMOZ, it’s safe to assume that the traffic driven to your site is relevant to your business—search directory users need to work to find your site. Intent like that is what makes prospect convert into customers.

How do I get listed in a search directory?

Different search directories have different submission processes. And, like we said—some will charge you. Considering its popularity, significance, and lack of an entry fee, we’ll look at the process for getting listed on DMOZ.

First things first: make sure your site isn’t already listed!

If not, then it’s time to assess whether your site is appropriate for listing. Based on the DMOZ guidelines, you can ask yourself the following questions to make this assessment:

  • Does your site contain only the same or very similar content as a site that’s already listed?
  • Does your site redirect to another site?

  • Does your site have a lot of broken links, graphics, and images?

  • Does your site consist largely of affiliate links?

  • Does your site contain illegal content?

(Yes, those guidelines did go from 0 to 100 real quick.)

Hopefully, you answered those five questions with resounding no’s. If that’s the case, it’s time to submit! Select the single most relevant category and submit your site there. Don’t apply for multiple categories or repeatedly submit your site. These will both get you in trouble.

If your site is well-built, regularly updated and improved, and full of informative content, you should have no problem getting accepted!