Once you have passed that trial by fire, there is another one awaiting you. The search engines have found your website, but there is no traffic – other than members of various networking sites you have entreated to please visit! Now is the time to list your website on a web directory.
Web directories are not search engines. Search engines display lists of websites based on keywords found on the pages of your site. In contrast, a web directory lists websites by category and subcategory. Most web directories are run by people, usually volunteer editors. This can make the process of listing your site just as slow as a search engine. But it is worth the wait, because directories also include descriptions of the website's contents (written by you). A good, detailed description provides increased incentive for people to visit your website.
Important Tips for Website Submissions
Because website directories are organized by category (and staffed by harried humans), it is important to do the following:
- Find the most relevant category for your website, including sub-category.
- Include your most important keywords in your description.
- Observe submission guidelines (read them first!)
- Keep your descriptions concise and informative. (Your description is not an ad, avoid CAPS and words like “best.”)
- Look at the titles and descriptions of websites in the same category. Make yours similar in tone.
- Don't submit to a number of directories all at once. Search engines respond to a progression of new links each month.
Alexa global rank: 3,231
Sites linking in: 20, 879
Currently, more than 9 million people visit AboutUs.org each month. Aside from listing your website, AboutUs provides a great “Home Page Analysis” to help you maximize your SEO. The analysis not only indicates problems with meta-tags, descriptions, and images, but will explain how to fix them. (I used this feature to improve the subheading on my site listings.) Highly recommended.
Open Directory Project
Alexa Global Rank: 958
Sites linking in: 57,563
The Open Directory project was founded in 1998 as “Gnuhoo.” It is currently owned by Netscape, but is maintained by a community of more than 7000 volunteer editors. More than 75 languages are represented. Because of its strict hierarchy of categories and sub-categories, it is very important that you place your website correctly. (Otherwise, the editors will refuse to list it.) Make sure your website isn't already listed before you submit it! A very useful feature of this site it that it will show you which search engines currently list your site.
Best of the Web
Alexa Global Rank: 9,353
Sites linking in: 10,686
Best of the Web was founded in 1994 at SUNY Buffalo. It introduced the concept of recognizing the best sites online (through an annual vote). Best of the Web has long since abandoned their web awards, but it continues to maintain a list of high-quality, spam-free websites. The company employs a team of paid editors that search the web for sites with original content, taking into account user-friendliness and normative web standards. Best of the Web lists both commercial and non-commercial sites, which are reviewed by paid editors. (Best of the Web also maintain a Blog Directory which lists the best blogs online.)
As far as increasing traffic to your site, Best of the Web is considered one of the best directories to get into. The fee is $149 to submit and $149 annually if accepted.
Website Directories Lists
There are literally hundreds of directories out there, which means you can spend hours researching where to list your website. To weed out the directories which will do you no good, either because they are searched by a demographic that does not represent your market (if you write romances, you don't want to list on a directory that appeals to men under 24) or are viewed infrequently, always check them on Alexa before you submit. In addition to providing stats, Alexa also posts reviews. These can be very enlightening.
With the plethora of web directories, many of which may not apply to fiction writers (although most do list author sites), you may want to check out the most reliable and well-regarded sites before you start listing. Below are three well-organized and informative lists of directories. Go through these to find the niches that apply to you.
Free, paid, and niche directories. One click and you're there!
Top 100 (actually 97) website directories. Lists by Alexa rank. Also includes a “trusted directory” list of the most established directories.
Aviva lists the strongest directories by how well they are viewed on Google. The list contains prices.
With a little research, careful planning, and a judicious selection of where to list your site, your author's website can achieve not only greater exposure, but SEO that is better than … (something else with three letters).