Q and A: How do you choose “Good” Directories for Link Building?


Dear Kalena…

How do you distinguish a worth while directories from non worth while directories when designing a link building campaign? there are so many directories on the web but what factors you will consider it is a worthwhile? Kalena Page rank, alexa ranking or ? the second question is I have in mind is when design a link building campaign, often some directories require a review fee, so what do you suggest for link building if the website has no budget?


Dear Proson

As you are no doubt aware, Link Building is one of the most important strategies for raising the visibility (and rankings.. and traffic… and enquiries… and sales…) of your website via search engines. However, because it can be hard work and tedious, Link Building is also often one of the most neglected SEO techniques.

Directory Submission, involves submitting your site for inclusion to online directories, and is one (of the many) activities which can help build up backlinks to your site.

As you have highlighted, there are many many directories out there – some are free, some offer guaranteed listings for a fee, some will review your site for a fee,but will not guarantee you will be included.

Finding directories is pretty easy (there are even directories which list directories to help you with this), but it can certainly be difficult determining which directories are worth being listed in, and which are worth paying money to be a part of.

Just because a site is free doesn’t necessarily mean it is of no value, and many paid directories can be a complete waste of money.

But, back to your question – How to distinguish between a worthwhile and a useless directory. Here are some tips that should help you decide :

A Good Directory…

  • Will not guarantee listing – If they are selective about the types of sites they listed, they are likely to be better quality and offer better link value
  • Will be targeted – general directories are OK, but a directory that focuses on your particular niche is going to be much better for you
  • Will add value – by including extra relevant content and information rather than just a list of links
  • Will have a history – Older, established directories are often better than new ones (even if they dont look as pretty)
  • Will be up to date – check the existing links on the category/page you expect to be listed on. If it contains broken links, think twice about listing
  • May link to your competitors – If the directory already links to your competitors, and they are ranking higher than you in search results , it’s an indicator that it is worth joining
  • Will have good PR – while Page Rank is not the be all and end all, if the directory (home page AND sub pages) has a low or no PR, then it is probably of little value to you

You should also consider local business directories, as these are often free, or inexpensive, and links form them can significantly improve your local search visibility.

Some Good Directories

Following is a small sample of some directories which are widely considered to be “good”

DMOZ (aka The Open Directory Project) is regarded as a reputable directory that lists only sites of good quality. Submission is FREE, but there is no guarantee of a listing. Listing requests are screened by volunteer editors, and listing can take months (if it happens at all) – depending on the category and how active the volunteer assigned to it is. DMOZ used to be a “must have”, but there has been much debate whether it is still of much value. Because it’s free, and easy, I would generally recommend a submission .

Yahoo Directory : ranks second to DMOZ in popularity but is one of the more expensive paid services (US$299 a year). However a single listing in Yahoo Directory will get you listed in multiple international Yahoo directories (18 last time I checked), and is important if you have the budget.

Best of the Web :  Another older and well used web directory which takes pride in the listing and categorisation of quality web sites. US$99.95 per year or US$2499.95 lifetime.

JoeAnt : Like Best of the Web,  Joe Ant is an older and valued directory which is a hybrid of paid and volunteer editing. US$39.99 review fee.

Gimpsy : Very similar to JoeAnt, this is also an authority directory and excellent for link building. US$49 review fee.


Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

Q and A : How do I optimize an e-commerce store?

QuestionDear Kalena…

I have a friend who asked me to look at a site (designed but not launched yet).

The question I have is about optimizing a shopping cart. It uses a CMS and they have the ability to change the tags for each product but not a lot of other flexibility. Is there anything else that can be done for cart optimization?


Dear Nancy

It’s good that you have control over the product titles because having unique and keyword-rich titles and descriptions is one of the most important things for a well optimised online store. For product images, make sure you use ALT tags and ensure the the site has a search-engine friendly structure (ie. design, architecture and navigation).

Avoid dynamic URLs and use a logical directory structure to break-up products into their appropriate categories (although when doing this, try not to bury the products too deeply in sub-directories as the search engines will often only crawl the top few layers unless there are enough deep links forcing the spiders to dig a bit deeper).

Use a sitemap, breadcrumbs and show visitors other related products by using links like: “people who purcahsed this also bought…”

If possible, try and incorporate a social media aspect to the site where users can add reviews and other product feedback. Setup a blog and/or a Twitter account and use these tools to help promote your products (without spamming people of course).

In conjunction with the social media and organic search engine optimisation, it’s also a very good idea to run a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. PPC campaigns are great for e-commerce sites because it’s quick, highly customisable (in terms of budget, geotargeting etc.) and incredibly measurable allowing you to further refine the keywords, titles and other content by monitoring click-through rates and using A/B split-testing tools.

All of this will improve usability, reduce bounce-rates, ensure the search bots will be able to find everything (and index it accordingly) and if done well, hopefully even improve conversions.

For a more detailed and comprehensive list of other things to look at, here are 50 SEO tips for online retailers.

Hope this helps!

Peter Newsome
SiteMost SEO Brisbane

Q and A : A Question about Keyword Research?


Dear Kalena…

I am curious as to when I research keywords, some keywords search terms have no popularity rank for them, although I do know that they are being searched for in some way or form.

When I create a keyword list for a client, how do I show relevance for my selected keyword without knowing popularity without any good data – especially for niche-type products and services?


Hi Aaron,

There are a number of Keyword Research tools around – some of the most popular being Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery and of course Googles Keyword Tool.

It’s not clear which tool you have been using specifically, but essentially most of them work in similar ways, although the source of data and the way the results are presented differ.

You need to be mindful that any Keyword Research Tool should be used as a guide only – none of the tools take into account 100% of the searches that are carried out, and often extrapolate results based on a data sample. If the data sample is relatively small, this can lead to distortions once the sample has been normalised. You may have noticed surprisingly large search volume scores for very obscure keyword phrases, for this very reason.

To give a simple example.

If a Keyword Research Tool gets a sample of search queries which represents 4% of the total worldwide queries undertaken in a particular month. if that sample happens to contain 4 instances of a query “large round spongy widgets” (all undertaken by one person), when the data is extrapolated up to 100% (by multiplying by 25), this phrase could seem to have a monthly search volume of 100 – which of course is simply not true.

On the flip side, if a specific keyword phrase seems to have NO (or low ) search data associated with it, this doesn’t necessarily mean that that phrase is not being used in search queries – it simply means that it was not present in the data sample used.

These discrepancies become less of an issue the higher the traffic volume is for a particular search term. So for high volume phrases – which is what you’d normally be looking for – most keyword tools do a reasonable job – but be sure you understand what the stats they provide represent and where their data is sourced.

As you have highlighted, for niche product/service areas, you need to be extra careful not to include an obscure keyword phrase just because the Keyword Tool said it was high volume.

When preparing a primary keyword list for your clients, you should not rely on a single source of keyword research, instead, use a few different keyword tools, and also look at competitor sites, and your clients analytics data, and amalgamate the results.

Not sure if that has actually answered your question, but I hope that it gives you an clearer insight into some of the pitfalls associated with Keyword Research Tools.

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

Another new tutor joins Search Engine College

Due to rapid global expansion, Search Engine College has hired their second new tutor in as many months.

Renée Lam is a marketing strategist with experience in brand and project management, advertising, and sales. She has worked and traveled in the U.S. and India to drive results on both the client and agency sides and across the industries of technology, consumer packaged goods, and entertainment.

Currently living in Los Angeles, Renée specializes in pay per click marketing and works for an internationally renowned Internet/Search company. No matter where she is in the world, Renée exercises her love for dancing. She is currently a member of a salsa dance team and volunteers her time to the community by hosting salsa lessons.

Reneé is excited to be an Assistant Tutor for Search Engine College and will be editing lessons and assisting with grading student assignments for our Pay Per Click courses.

Renée is another graduate of Search Engine College, completing certification in SEO 101, SEO 201, as well as PPC 101 and PPC 201 subjects. You can read more about her on our tutors page.

Welcome aboard Renée!

Q and A: How do we get around the ‘Top Banner’ image alt tag problem?

QuestionDear Kalena…

How do we get around the ‘Top Banner’ image alt tag problem?

I have just read how important it is to have page-content specific titles….what about our site banner?

Even if I use text with a css background-image for the Site Name….it’s still the same on every page!!

Does the use of the H1 tag on each page being different solve this problem?


Dear Paul,

When incorporating keywords into your website, relevance is the most important thing. If you sell ‘blue widgets’ and on your website you have a picture of a ‘blue widget’ (not that I really know what one of those would look like, but just work with me here…) it would be relevant to use the words ‘blue widget’ in your image alt text.

But if you were to have an image of a cow (not that I know why you’d have an image of a cow on a ‘blue widget’ website) I’d advise against using the image alt tag ‘blue widget’ because it’s not relevant to the image.

The same applies to your top banner.

Obviously the top banner is the same on each page and I could imaging your banner would probably contain images, perhaps your logo and maybe even a tag-line or text pertaining to your business.

So use alt image text that would pertain to the banner – put the company name and tag-line or core product in there, but don’t try and cram it with keywords.

Using unique title tags, headings (H1, H2 etc.) and content has far more weight from an SEO perspective than the image alt tags, so if you do this well, you’ll have nothing to fear by having the same alt text for your top banner.

Hope this helps!

Peter Newsome
SiteMost SEO Brisbane