Here is a nice FAQ about web directories:
What is an SEO friendly directory?
An SEO friendly directory is one whose listed website links can be indexed by the search engines. They are optimised so that site links/listings included in their submissions will be crawled and indexed by the search engines.
How do I identify an SEO friendly directory?
An SEO friendly directory is one that meets ALL of the following criteria:
- Direct and static outbound links for listed websites.
- NO blocking of the search engine robots in the robots.txt file or meta tags.
- NO use of rel=nofollow on the outbound links.
- NO internal links, jumplinks or redirects for outbounds.
- The keyword anchor is part of the link (this is normally the Site Title but can also be embedded in the Description).
What is the difference between a directory and a link farm?
A directory collates website listings into appropriate categories based on industry/topic/region, and has an editorial process whereby submissions are manually adjusted by humans so that the content is unique, free of spam and accurately defines the listed websites purpose.
A link farm can have categories and list websites, but has no editing policy, does not combat spam and lists website submissions “as is” creating problems with duplicated content.
NB: There are many more link farms around than directories. On the surface they are difficult to spot, because they use directory scripts, and masquerade as directories, however they are not the same as a real directory and should be avoided at all costs.
How do I know if a directory is really a link farm?
We use a couple of simple tests to identify link farms, which are based around searching for popular spam keyword/keyphrases on a *directory* and then analysing the results returned to see what sort of listings are within that directory. More often than not, spam results are returned and one can conclude that the directory is in fact a link farm.
Is submitting to web directories still useful for link building??
Originally Posted by Official Google Webmaster Blog – June 21st, 2010 Directory entries are often mentioned as another way to promote young sites in the Google index. There are great, topical directories that add value to the Internet. But there are not many of them in proportion to those of lower quality. If you decide to submit your site to a directory, make sure it’s on topic, moderated, and well structured. Mass submissions, which are sometimes offered as a quick work-around SEO method, are mostly useless and not likely to serve your purposes.
Source: Official Google Webmaster Blog
The point to note here is that you should focus on quality, and topical relevance. Avoid massive lists of directories, because they contain all that lower quality junk that you are trying to avoid. Don’t think that more is better, because it quite simply isn’t, and Google has officially told you so.
People that rely solely on directory submissions to promote their online standings are planning to fail. Directories are just one of many promotional tools in your toolbox
Think about this in a bricks ‘n’ mortar business sense. You wouldn’t rely solely on business cards to promote your business at the expense of ignoring every other promotional method would you? (you would employ a balance of other methods like cold calling, local newspaper advertising, taking advantage of your window space, word of mouth, flyers/handouts, etc). However, on the flip side, you wouldn’t ignore using business cards to promote your business just because you can’t get amazing results with them as a sole promotional tool.
People *need* to think of directories the same way and take a balanced approach when deciding on a directory submission campaign. Invest time in them, but do not neglect the other promotional methods that you have available to you. How much time and money you invest in them depends on your budget and time constraints and the proportion of those that you have dedicated to those other promotional tools at your disposal.
Gaining a listing on a high quality directory is one of the best backlinks to gain, simply because your site will be required to pass an editorial listing standard or review. By listing your site the editor is effectively saying “the internet needs to know about this website”. No other promotional method has that standard (not twitter/facebook, not social media, not blogs, and not forum signatures and profiles). It is why editorial standards are the key to directory quality.