Beaten to a pulp Social Voting beats Directories for Link Building

I have always hated directory marketing. Schlepping around soulless, low PR directories. Hoping that the links would give your little green bar a tug. Have you ever used a directory to find something, I haven’t, I’m more likely to open my window and look for smoke signals telling me to head them off at the pass.

Directories are Dead. Not really but it seems to be in vogue to announce the demise of something or other. They’re not dead, it’s just something has come along that is more effective, more vibrant and more fun.

I like Social Media sites like Digg, Reddit, Netscape etc. It allows me to use my skill to get my entries noticed. Basically they are huge directory sites. Their category pages get crawled by Google, the archives are around to continue the traffic. I still get traffic from entries I submitted ages ago just from the keyword.

Social Media Experiment
I made quite a few Digg submissions which squeezed the keywords, Digg, Unbuntu, Apple etc. into the description. It was painful to read but I got traffic from it. “Kate Moss ate here apple and put an Unbuntu on her head”. See, it can be done. C’mon, you don’t really expect me to take Digg seriously do you. It’s like a bucketful of slugs over there.

Joking aside, along with the main Social Voting sites there are niche sites concentrating on specific areas. With the rise of Pligg you can have your own Digg clone going in 15 mins. Andy Hagens wrote recently about the juiciest sites for traffic.
Social Media Sites that actually send traffic

I modified his list adding PR and Alexa rankings which is always fun to have.

Some people complain that these sites do not send the traffic, well maybe your entries need a bit more work. Do you work on your headlines for the same amount of time as you work on your content. The headline is crucial. Don’t be bothered by people thinking you are too cheesey, or that your headline is lame. The only thing that matters with your headline is that it works.

Here is a bigger list of mostly untested Digg clones. You should be able to submit relevant material to all these sites.
More Digg clone sites

Robb has an opinion of directories
The massive SMO vs directory marketing fight
A directory owner defends directory marketing
A business directory from

64 thoughts on “Beaten to a pulp Social Voting beats Directories for Link Building”

  1. Nice list Lyndon.

    I HATE directory submissions, hate em, hate em, hate em let me say that one mo time.

    I think the se’s hate em too, well most of them at least. The odd niche directories are worth a click and a fiddle still, but im a little like you too in the use sense – I don’t and never did even. Dmoz, Y! all that tosh why would anyone use that crap when you can pump a query into a search box!

    Ok, so there may well still be some relative value from having in a link in those things, but its benefits are on the wane surely. The social space is where its at. Blogs, pliggs and plugs.

    Ps when ya gonna drop that nofollow 😉

  2. First I need to install a human capcha and then I think I will be comfortable with it. Although I do like the fact that the links in my post are more important than the comment links. Most people here who comment or link to me have benefited from links back and a stumble or two.

    So it is worth it.

  3. Well –thanks –you SEO guys who hate directories will be rejected by directory owners. Without directories how do you get enough links to rank your client’s sites? If you can’t rank–will anybody hire you?

    Also –how many sites do you put on top of these Social Media sites? are these traffic permanent? Sooner or later they will go deep inside pages -and nobody will find it.
    What will your clients give you? They will soon abandon you for sure!:D
    What they want is permanent ranking on SEs and you can’t rank any site permanently with these so-called social networking sites.

    Best of luck.

  4. “you SEO guys who hate directories will be rejected by directory owners.”

    For me, it’s not personal, it’s business. If I had a directory and someone submitted a site that added value to the database then I would list it, even if they were a hated enemy. I’m all about added value, even if they said they hated my site. I’m not that sensitive.

    If you actually read the article you will find I said “Directories are Dead. Not really”, but it’s common for bloggers to be misquoted.

    I also did not say I “hated directories”, sigh, I said I hated directory marketing, I find it boring and repetative. Other people may find it exciting and gripping, whatever rocks you boat.

    “Also ?how many sites do you put on top of these Social Media sites? are these traffic permanent? Sooner or later they will go deep inside pages -and nobody will find it.”

    I have had a number of successes with social media, it’s really not that difficult when you figure it out. True, there is a time factor with one submission where the traffic tales off. But I don’t think you understand how to optimise social media. The point is to collect backlinks from the traffic. This only happens when you have linkable material, it’s not that complicated really.

    “What will your clients give you? ”

    Well I don’t know about you but my clients give me money, perhaps you get paid another way, not sure I understand what you mean.

    “They will soon abandon you for sure!:D”

    I guess that means you are not going to add yourself to my client list. 😉

    “What they want is permanent ranking on SEs”

    I agree.

    “…and you can?t rank any site permanently with these so-called social networking sites.”

    Again you missunderstand what social media optimisation is about. it’s about the links which come from the traffic social media creates, not the links within the sites themselves. Although I still get traffic from all of them from months ago, more than I have ever got from even directories like DMOZ. You gotta love emprical data.

  5. Useful list and I generally don’t bother with directories either.

    It is nice to be in Dmoz, and I was lucky to get in without any pain on my primary blog.
    I have actually applied for Yahoo UK, because it is free – handy having your company registered in the UK sometimes.

    I have used a few submission tools on niche sites… gradually.

    All it takes to create a PR5 site is one cool idea, then you can develop it how you like.

  6. It seems directory owners have not taken kindly to my comment that Social Media is replacing directories, it’s as if they have some kind of vested interest.

    “It is nice to be in Dmoz”

    And that’s all it is these days, “nice”. Such a shame, DMOZ in it’s day has helped out a number of my sites.

    There always going to be a nice little directory that gives a return, a link is a link, however, if you look at ROI it just cannot compete with a nice bit of viral content together with a decent social media submission.

  7. Jeff sorry your comment took so long to come up, you were trapped in Akismet hell, stuck between the Tramadol and the Phentermine.

  8. Directory submissions seem to work very well for my clients sites, ask anyone of them, I would like to see you try and link bait for a site selling MP4 players and I would like to see you get an online MP4 player site to rank on Google using no directory submissions and no paid links.

  9. David I am sure there are people out there still using these old style directory sites. My point is that social media sites can be seen as directory sites on steroids.

    I am sure if someone is willing to go the mind numbing route of directory submissions they could get a site to rank, my arguement isn’t about that. My point is that social media optimisation is more effective.

    “I would like to see you try and link bait for a site selling MP4 players and I would like to see you get an online MP4 player site to rank on Google using no directory submissions and no paid links.”

    To be honest it would be really easy, Digg users love technology, a well written piece of content about for example how an Mp4 player put a kid in prison would be an winner. You have to juice it up of course. Someone on Digital point said I was stating the obvious that great content gets traffic. But that is what SMO is, it’s about creating amazing content that people cannot resist to link to and then using social media to add the viral element.

    But come on, an mp4 player would be too easy, give me a harder example like “industrial water purifiers or something.

  10. I suck at SMO, I think I have attracted 3 natural links to my site alltogether bar spam bots that I am aware of and one of them was from you:

    One of them was very random and lucky:

    And one of them was because the design of my site apparantly sucks:

    There are probably a few others, but not alot, I do have lot’s of unpaid links, but I do have to ask for them usually and they are not really that natural, this is something that I am trying to get the hang of, I am going to be launching a blog for my site soon and hopefully I will be able to learn something from that so that I can do the same for my clients, I have got a little project in the works at the moment on my site that I am hoping may attract links but I will have to get pages indexed properly and post the results before I have a chance:

  11. Most directories bother me because they tout their PR6 or PR7 home page as their selling point. When you decide to purchase a link from them, your link sits on a PR3 page. Gee, for $40 or more I want better juice then that.

  12. Matt Keegan try my directory Biz-Dir Web Directory all company profile pages added before the 2nd of April got a PR5, one listed website wen’t from PR1 on the homepage to having PR4 on all pages just off a link in my directory at the recent update.

  13. Bloody Aksimet!, I need to add a human captcha and get rid of the thing. Sorry about that.

    David, I didn’t know you were a directory owner? I thought you were just a straight SEO, no wonder you are flying the flag for Directories 🙂

    But, the good thing that is coming out of this is those with quality directories are coming forward. I would like to do a future blog post on all the directories like yours that get a submission a PR 4.

    Is it a paid submission? I guess Matt Cutts sees it as a paid link.

    David, email me a link to your directory and I will post it.

  14. I dug your post out of Akismet, it’s tricky cos I get hammered with spam. It was probably because you posted three links, but what I don’t get is that they are not even proper links. Sigh!

    SMO is not that hard, I notice you have articles on your site, simply open an account and start submitting. it helps if you have a power account and you write a killer headline.

    I will give one of your articles some Netscape love and we can see what happens.

  15. Davids directory is at, it has a nice fat pr 5 on the page listings. So get over there and get yourself a site review. It’s only $20 and it looks like only quality sites are accepted.

    As Directories go, this is one of the better ones.

  16. While I won’t lie and say I don’t use directories I do not use them for anything other then to add “authority” to a site in the eyes of engines. I normally only use a handful, DMOZ Yahoo are both great if and when you ever get in. (To be honest its quicker applying to be a editor at DMOZ then to get through its normal submission process)

    However all my good traffic links have been through social media. I have had fantastic results through Dzone with highly targeted linkerati traffic. Stumbleupon and Digg also regularly provide links to my site. For me its not about getting on to the front page of digg, I really don’t want or need a large crowd of 15 year old hoodies invading my site. I would rather be noticed by just 1 or 2 people.

    The Venture Skills blog has been very fortunate to have been linked to in 2 or 3 places on innocent looking links (2 of which are in comments) but they regularly bring in visitors and those 3 links (which came primarily from a stumbleupon submission) have brought more targeted visitors (and targeted linkerati) then any thing else.

  17. If a new source to get links pops up that never means another is dead. It just means you are getting more links from somewhere else. Directories are not dead. We all need more links from more places.

  18. @Lyndoman (comment #20). I really have no idea what that is about. I don’t have an account at Netscape and I’ve never submitted anything from my site there.

    But anyhow, thanks for submitting my site. I appreciate the thought!

  19. I’m a big fan of a well-balanced approach to promoting a web site.

    I’ve also been around web promotion long enough to remember when submitting to directories was one of the main aspects of SEO – back before there really were search engines.

    The first factor that I consider when looking at a directory isn’t the pagerank of the page that a link will appear upon, or even if a directory will pass along any link equity at all, but rather whether the directory is one that people will use to find the site that I am promoting.

    Does it look credible, does it look legitimate, does it focus upon the people who will find it of value when they are looking for something rather than focusing upon the people who are looking for links?

    I really like regional or topical directories that make it easy for people to find what they are looking for, and provide value to those searchers. If these directories enable people to make intelligent choices about the differences between the sites that they have listed, that’s even better.

    I like getting links to a site, but I’m a big fan of getting the right link, to the right place, at the right time. While I think that the traffic that social sites bring is terrific, and it’s great to have your site earn visitors from those pages, there’s some value to being listed in a directory that transcends pagerank, or a large stream of unfocused visitors:

    1. If the directory is one that people consider to be an “authority” on a subject, and will look there to find pages on that topic, it may not hurt to be listed there, and may bring some pretty focused traffic to a page. Those visitors are pre-qualified to be interested in what a site has to offer.

    2. If a directory is one that a search engine will look at to find business information related to a site – address, phone number, category of business, etc. – being included in that directory could be helpful in having a site’s business location be understood by the search engines when it comes to generating local search and product search information.

    3. If being listed in a directory makes it more likely that you can be found by complimentary sites that may link to you, contact you, or engage in cross-promotional efforts with you, being included in that directory may open up opportunities to start some conversations.

    A link from a social network may bring a lot of folks to a site that are interested in what that site has to offer beyond just the page or article or blog post that brought them there in the first place. It could even continue to do so over time – I have a couple of pages that were dugg that continue to get traffic from the original digg – one that’s even more than a year old. Being included in a good directory may not bring an initially very strong surge of traffic like a social networking site, but it could provide a steady stream of visitors.

    I like trying to focus upon building quality content that will draw links to it naturally, from many sources. I like persuasive titles and snippets that attract visitors from search engines to well optimized sites. I like promoting a site in a number of other ways, and submitting to some directories can be part of that mix.

    When choosing a directory to submit a link to, I want to feel that the directory is a business partner who is interested in promoting their directory in a positive fashion to the audience that I want to attract to a site. I want to see them focusing upon providing a positive experience to their visitors. If the focus of the directory is upon the people submitting sites rather than the people using the directories, I’m much less likely to get involved with the directory.

  20. Excellent comment Bill, I love it when the comments outshine the original article.

    The range of tools you can use to get people to your site depends on your personality and ability. I find I can’t concentrate on searching out and submiting to directories, I always get distracted. Mostly by the hundreds of feeds in my feed reader.

    But thinking up a new angle on an old story, juicing it up and putting a killer headline on it, I can do that. I love it. We are human, well most of us and there are forms of marketing that are highly mechanical and repetitive, but if you are into that then it will probably work for you.

    Directories are not dead and I do still submit, my own and clients sites to them.

    But I think sites like are the future rather than static, old skool, nothing new to offer directories.

  21. Directories have a massive problem, most are not designed for humans, and if humans don’t visit they can’t possibly pass that traffic on to those within the directory!

    Their are exceptions to this but on the whole a directory is a cold empty place, with no real traffic except people submitting their sites.

    The exceptions of course all have added value, and are normally just one part of a site, in cases like Aviva directory (who appears to have not read the original post, hint hint) the site is much more then just a directory and so can actually bring in traffic.

    What is the point of links if they don’t bring you traffic?

  22. Just to follow up, in many ways the new directories are already here, in the form of mybloglog, blogcatalog etc.they fulfil exactly the same roll yet also bring the traffic.

  23. personally I love directories – when they are legit and not filled with spam – and lots of it…

    the problems we face running such directories is that you get 100 or 200 submissions a day from garbage links from spammers. So it slows down the whole thing.

    Thats where social media (web 2.0) sites come in – because instead of having to be the editor the whole time – you get other users to vote etc.

    With becoming a PR 9 site in the last update – it will stand up against all others. Our profile there became a pr 5 in less than about 3 months of usage. Thats higher than profiles at other sites.

  24. Hmm, I can see both sides of the argument here, but I’m with Lyndon’s central idea of the Social media sites offering better all round value, as well as simply just being more fun.

    There is nothing more boring than visiting 200 directories, plugging the same old details in, wondering exactly what rank page you’re going to end up on.

    Getting Stumbled, receiving over 10,000 hits over a month, increasing backlinks and feed readers, when all you did was write the article is much more satisfying 😉

    Good directories have their place, but they’re going to have to convince people that they ARE good before getting anyone’s money.

    Regards your spam situation Lyndon, please don’t add a Captcha or it will be like visiting a Blogger blog: Have you tried the Bad Behavior plugin? It may reduce your Akismet list to more manageable levels: Mine dropped from 2-300 a day to 15-20.

    The no. of links in a comment being flagged could be a WP setting, as the default is usually 2 links (Which includes the name/URL) sending it to purgatory.

  25. Great discussion here. I don’t recall who said it, but social media sites are the new directories. They’re like directories for the ADD crowd. But comparing the two is tough — they’re different animals.

    That said, Bill and Chris really stole my thunder. 🙂

    For most new sites, I still think you have to chase a couple prime directories to get your link building started — Yahoo, DMOZ, maybe BOTW and 1-2 others. Directory submission is terribly monotonous, but it makes for a good foundation. You also have to chase the social/viral thing, though. Thankfully, it’s more fun, interesting, and challenging than chasing directory links.

  26. It?s somewhat apples and oranges. I will submit to a directory if it already ranks highly for a keyword I?m targeting. I?ll even pay extra to be the top listing if that?s an option. In several situations, a directory ranked highly for a keyword but only had an empty category with no other listings. (Bonus)

    I love social media but? It?s not applicable for every situation. It all depends on the client and the topic. For example: Not every celebrity should be deliberately promoted in the tabloids but some folks like Paris Hilton have had great success creating tabloid worthy situations and then working that system to get the free publicity.

    If you have a client with a website that allows for that kind of flexibility? Exploit the hell out of it. Build ?Made for Digg? content and articles and email everyone you know to vote on it.

  27. Heh. This article, it’s resulting comments, and offsite discussions should be proof enough that social media is where the links are at. Directories are, and have been, on the way out. Sure there are exceptions to the rules and some can be useful.. tedious but useful.. but to be sure they are like animals on the endangered species list. They have a certain amount of protection ’cause they were around first but it doesn’t make up for the fact that evolution occurred and it’s survival of the fittest 2.0!

    What totally surprises me is that there are no owners of Web-Rings in here trying to kick up dust about how that’s the ultimate way to stay connected. I mean how else are you going to find all the Green Lantern Fan Club websites?

  28. I can count the directories I submit to on 1 hand and they are simply to serve as quality indicators for search engines – if I ever got any traffic from them it would be a very welcome surprise. But they do serve their purpose – as Matt said above they are a “good foundation”. Are there more then 5 directories worth submitting to? Sure – but if I had to make the choice between spending time/money submitting to a bunch of directories or kicking some ass on Digg/et. al – I would choose the latter all day/every day (and twice on Sundays)….

  29. I agree that social voting sites are more useful for link and traffic building. Not to mention that they are an excellent way for any new site to get some serious exposure and branding.

    Having said that, I still do submit to directories whenever I set up a new website because I really have nothing to lose if I do so.

    I hardly do manual submission though because of the lack of time. I’ll rather pay someone a small fee to do all the very repetitive and very boring work. 🙂

  30. Agreed! I submitted one of my websites to close to 100 free directories…and in a year, received less than 100 hits combined from all the directories. I found a couple good ones that I’ll submit to in the future, but most are a waste of time.

  31. As with most things in Internet Marketing — it depends:

    – Some directories help with ranking, but obviously these are taking a hit in Google’s valuation. Once Google begins to integrate usage data, etc more robustly some of these that are really just thematic linkfarms will probably take an even bigger hit.

    – Other directories have active users. They usually are adding some legitimate value to their users and aren’t just somebody’s 8 hour project form the day. Most of these are niche directories, and are still very useful in the marketing mix.

    – Social media strikes me as a completely different animal altogether. It involves more care and feeding as opposed to the “fire and forget” nature of directory marketing.

    I’d say there is no one-size fits all strategy for Internet Marketing. Look at your website. Assess it’s strengths and weaknesses and look for the best opportunities to introduce it to the marketplace.

  32. I think it’s a shame that directories seem to becoming a less and less popular resource for ‘real’ internet users.

    I don’t think they are dead yet but I think the directory owners of ‘me too!’ sites that add very little in user experience need to realise their business model will only continue to work while niave companies pay ?50 for a submission that has zero ROI. Which hopefully won’t be much longer.

    They might be better off setting up a decent niche pligg site instead ! diversify the portfolio guys…

  33. The only directory I have used in the past five years is the Yahoo directory, and this is only when i am looking for something quite specific, in my local area.

    I occasionally submit some of our sites to a few directories I come across, but ten minutes reading the DP forums withing the Directories section makes you realise just how many muppets run these directories thinking they will be the next Yahoo.

    I certainly would not pay any of them for inclusion.

  34. I find directory submissions so mind numbingly depressing that I frequently jab myself in the eye with a cocktail stick to entertain myself…I once considered paying my 12 year old niece to submit a load of my sites but I felt it would be cruel to inflict this on one so young.

    The number of hoops you have to jump through to get listed on some of these directories is ridiculous. All for a crummy PR2 backlink from a directory that nobody outside of the SEOs has even heard of…Meh…

  35. “Soulless…” Well put. I know that feeling from too many late nights of directory submissions.

    One thing that bothers me though is that social media sites are hot now and everyday someone has a new one. What happens when/if people grow weary of social media sites and they come to be viewed like directories?

  36. @clickfire

    Good point there dude – pligg makes the likelihood of such things a possible reality, although, like most things – there are always going to be those that stand out from the crowd. Even in todays crowded dir space, there are clear winners who are head and shoulders above the others. IMO the market will recognise these, just as they do today.

    Great thread here Lyndon, you certainly stirred the pot m8 😀

  37. Rob I fished you out, time to get the captcha added, I will find out which on you use.

  38. False dichotomy. You can have both directories and social media working for you.

    If you get value from a directory for less than the cost of submitting to a directory, then why wouldn’t you submit to a directory?

    If a social media site produces no value for you, would you keep using that channel, as opposed to directories, on a purely ideological basis i.e. you like one, but not another?

    That’s the bottom line. If there is value in a channel, take it. Directories, if you know how to use them, provide many people with value.

  39. As someone who just bought a directory yesterday for XXXX.XX I sure hope the long established value of submitting to quality directories carries some momentum with it so I can recoup my investment and continue growing the directory beyond it’s current 13,000 listings. I’ll be switching to paid listings and plan on being a “budget” directory. Any suggestions on fair value for permanent links on PR3 and PR4 pages inside a PR5 directory?

  40. About time someone spoke the truth about directories… the paid ones – there’s definitely some good ones out there… the worst ones are the shite free ones that are after one thing – YOUR (or your clients) info to sell on… or a naff reciprocal link… total tosh, I’ve yet to see a free directory send me (or any of my clients) web traffic including DMOZ!

    I don’t bother with Free directoriesa anymore, its a mix of paid relevant directories only, blogging, social media and related non competing websites for me.


  41. Looks like googles latest update wipes the floor with your theory on directories and the PR of directories welcome to the age of human edited trust.

  42. Firstly there was the article over at Cornwall SEO which suggested that the rise of social media sounded the death knell for traditional directories.

  43. According to me, submitting your site in a handful of respected online directories like Dmoz is more than enough. I’ve come across so many SEOs who have automated softwares to make thousands of submissions. This is really a wasted effort.

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