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12 Tips to Improve Your Search Engine Rankings

We're all looking for ways to get more visitors to our websites. The more the merrier now translates into PPC, CPA, and increased sales of your own products.

There's an easy way for site owners to help themselves and bring more traffic to their websites through improved rankings in search engines. In this article I'm going to tell you how I do it - for free.

Now that I've got your attention, let's get to the not-so-new-idea; Directory submission.

WAIT! Hear me out.

Yeah, I know; it's boring, time consuming, and tedious.

But, It really works!

I've watched my two relatively new websites steadily increase in the search engine results - and I'm not just talking about Google. The best part is that I've been picking the keywords.

What is a Web Directory?

There are tons of websites that list directories you can submit your site to.

In case you don't already know what a directory is, think of an on-line yellow pages without the crazy prices.

Directories are websites where you can request a paid, reciprocal, or even a free link to your site. Submitted websites are displayed by category and it is that categorization that can make a directory a very useful backlink to your website. Since every website on the page and their accompanying descriptions are on the same topic, a directory listing can help the search engines identify the overall topic of your website.

Free Backlinks

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus. Backlinks for free? Sure thing.

If you're like me, you would rather stick with the free options. The good news is that there are many websites and forums that cater to providing information on new and free directory websites. I'll leave it to you to find them - should be easy.

Add a little cash and you can get site-wide and premium listings on busy directory websites for as little as $3-5. The price goes up when the directory starts earning some recognition; your best return on the investment of your time is to get in early.

Do keep in mind, that Google has expressed some concern about paying for links simply to get page rank. There has been much heated discussion on this topic by webmasters. Google and everyone else is trying to identify when a link is "reviewed", an advertisement, or purchased simply for "link juice". My best suggestion is to review the directory prior to submission to determine if the site simply contains a list of links or if they do have additional content, unique listings, and/or site reviews. Evaluate the site to determine how you would feel if that site were a person and giving your site a personal recommendation - after all, that is exactly what's happening. Keep in mind that if Google determines that a site is selling links simply for the purpose of exchanging PR, the seller is penalized not the buyer. If the buyer were penalized it would be too easy for a site owner to buy links simply to damage their competition.

Some Potential Benefits of Early Submission

  • Free submission
  • Better placement in listing results
  • Shorter review times
  • Premium links often discounted
  • Better choice of premium link locations

Some Potential Downsides to Early Directory Submission

  • Directory may not last
    Directories are a lot of work to maintain. Many start them with good intentions only to give up when they realize that they have to work hard to make money.
  • Directory may be poorly run
    The directory owner may get careless and not maintain categorization or allow spammy websites. This will not damage your site because it is 100% out of your control but it will make your directory listing less valuable in terms of the SEO benefits it can provide.
  • Directory may just be collecting email addresses
    I've only had a little of this and it's why I always use and email dedicated for directory submissions.

Directory Submission Tips

Now to the techniques of maximizing your directory submissions...

  1. Always make sure the link being given is SEO friendly.

    The page should link directly to your URL and encourage search engines to both index and follow all links on the page.

  2. Always read and comply with any listed submission guidelines.

    Directory owners recieve so many spammy and poor submissions that they rarely give a site a second chance. Take the time to play by their rules - after all they are giving you a backlink with the link text of your choice for free.

  3. When possible, take the opportunity to submit a link to an interior page (deep link).

    People will often trade links for homepages, but it is harder to get links to interior pages. Be careful; deep linking is often against a directory's guidelines and submitting a deep link can get your site permanently banned if the directory owner does not accept them. But, for those sites that do accept deep links, I recommend submitting pages that appear on your main navigation menu.

  4. Choose the category carefully.

    Make sure you submit to the best match. Some directory owners will move a site, others use this as a reason to deny the listing.

  5. Create and use an email account just for directory submissions.

    It will keep all emails related to your directory submissions together and protect your primary account from receiving spam.

  6. Use a nickname or just your first name.

    If it is a trade or business directory, you may be required to supply your full name and doing so may be in your best interest.

  7. The title you select becomes the link text.

    Here's where submitting to directories can really help with SEO. If you are hoping people will come to your website to find marshmellow recipes, you can make your title and link text marshmellow recipes. (I saw my sites climb steadily for certain keywords by getting links using my chosen keywords and phrases.)

  8. Keep your title focussed on your target keyword or keyword phrase.

    The more words you put in the title, the less ranking the link passes to each word.

  9. Vary the title and the descriptions you use.

    While the search engines encourage getting more links than your competition, they get suspicious when they are all the same.

  10. Write the description as if it was a 2 to 3 sentence engraved invitation to visit your site.

    While you may not get a tremendous amount of visitors from directories, make full use of the opportunity.

These two I've not seen mentioned by anyone else; they'll be our secret...

  1. Write a description containing keywords that will help the page your listing is located on.

    The better the information on that page, the better the backlink becomes.

  2. Don't create competition for yourself with your descriptions.

    If you optimize your descriptions for your keyword or keyword phrase you might find the directory ranking higher than you for your own keywords! I learned this lesson the hard way - now you won't have to.

These 12 tips can get your site more backlinks and better search engine results. And it's all free! All it will take is a bit of your time. Taking 5-10 minutes and submitting to 1 or 2 directories a day can get you 400 to 750 backlinks within a year. Spend a little more time and get even more results from your efforts.

A word of caution...Do not go crazy and submit to hundreds of directories in a single day. Google and some of the other search engines are always on the lookout for sites that appear to be doing something sneaky to manipulate the search engine results. If a new site suddenly has 500 links in a day or two, it could be flagged and even delisted.

Surely you have 5 extra minutes in your day to get 400 or more free advertisments for your website all the while increasing your Google pagerank and search engine placement?

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Final Thought About This Page and W3C Validation

If you check this webpage though the W3C validator, you will find there is one line of code that does not validate. In the most current HTML standard the start="11" I use with an ol tag is considered depricated. Due to their haste in depricating a needed element and not providing any alternative that works cross-browser, I am keeping the designation on this page in my small attempt at a protest.