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Listing your Site on Web Site Directories: An Editor's Viewpoint
By Duncan Parry of Lycos UK
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Overview: Learn what criteria search engine editors use in order to evaluate your website and who ultimately decide whether you make it into their databases.

Getting your site listed on web directories is one way to drive highly targeted traffic to your site. In this Article Duncan Parry dparry@lycos.co.uk, a directory editor for Lycos UK, explains how to get your site listed and notes the mistakes many webmasters make that lead to their sites being rejected.

What is a Web Directory?

The Open Directory https://dmoztools.net/ is probably the best known web directory. For the uninitiated, web directories are comprised of human-maintained categories that contain links to sites, accompanied by short descriptions. Their aim is to be a 'catalogue' of the most useful, entertaining or content rich sites about a particular subject.

Many search engines incorporate directories into their search results. For example, a search on Lycos will include any relevant categories at the top of the results. Google does the same with the Open Directory.

Preparing to Submit Your Site

Before you start looking for directories to submit to, write a short description of your site, and save this is in a text file with a short site title, URL and e-mail address, and some keywords - a few directories let you submit these, too. You can then cut and paste from this later on.

These are the common mistakes that lead to sites being rejected:

  • Unfinished sites
  • A lack of content
  • Broken links
  • Submitting a site under multiple URLs. Editors have remarkable memories for sites - and some directories use software to spot this
  • Flash intros with no 'skip' option
  • Annoying animated gifs or pointless music
Common mistakes in site titles and descriptions:
  • Impossible boasts
  • Unnecessary capitals or exclamation marks
  • Poor grammar
  • Including the site / company name in the description (it should already be in the title, why waste space repeating it?)

Comparing Examples

Bad Example:
The BEST *Computer Company* in the WORLD!!!!
We at Computer Solutions UK are the absolute BEST computer company in the *world*. Prices you'll love!!! No rubbish here!! Visit us NOW!

Good Example:
Computer Solutions UK
Online software store for the UK, offering business, accounting and operating system software. Also with a shop in Basildon.

Closing Tips:

Do the obvious: Look at how competitors sites already described are listed, and base your description on that format.

Regional Listings: If your site is regional in nature make this clear in your description and submit your site to the relevant subcategory. For example, if you are a web design company serving Dallas, don't submit your site to 'US Web Designers" but to the subcategory for 'Dallas". Being listed at the top of a category can work against your site - if the majority of your customers will look for your site on a regional basis, they will click on the regional subcategory and may not look at the sites listed at the top level.

Submitting your Site: One of my pet hates as an editor is spamming. This includes sites that are submitted to multiple categories when they really only fit into one, or sites that are submitted at the top of a category when they should be in a subcategory. So make sure you submit your site to the right category. Editors might re-categorise your submission, but you've already created a bad impression before they visit your site. Spend a few minutes looking at the directory and drilling down to the right subcategory.

Multiple Submissions: Submit your site to the most relevant category first - and only submit it to another if the submission guidelines state they allow this. Record the URLs of the pages you have submitted to in the text file - you'll want to check back later.

Waiting for your site to be listed: Don't expect your site to appear two days after your submit it. It will enter a queue, and many sites don't update their listings more than once a month. Some sites will e-mail you when your site is listed, some won't. It's best to revisit sites you've submitted to a minimum of a month later.

Where to Submit Your Site: Start at the Open Directory - if you are eventually listed, it will be worth it. Look for regional directories, well known ISP sites and search engines that have directories. Focus on sites you already know operate in your market that have directories as these can draw targeted traffic to your URL.


Write an objective site description and title. Submit your site only when it is ready. Take time to find the relevant category(s). The easier you make the editor's job, the easier getting your site listed will be.

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