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Microsoft Small Business Directory
Review

The directory is no longer offered

Description: The Microsoft Small Business Directory is large, clean and well categorized. The directory that bears Microsoft's name seems to be operated by bCentral, an organization that is somewhat separate from Microsoft.
What you get:
  • You get up to add your listing in up to 3 categories. Some sites will fit naturally into 3 categories but others may have to settle for submitting to only 1 category. There seems to be a bias towards shopping related categories.
  • Each listing can have up to 4 links, to different pages on your site.
  • You can add a "business card" web page, with your company information. Your business card can have 6 more links to your site.
  • You can receive as much as 18 links to your site.
  • You get free use of the Microsoft site wide optimization analysis tools. These tools are extensive but probably a bit too time consuming for the average web person with some SEO knowledge.
PageRank Value: The Directory main page has a PageRank of 6.
Your links are displayed on PageRanks ranging from 0 to 5. Your links will most likely be on a PR4 or PR3 page. Plan your categories / link pages ahead of time. Choose your categories carefully as the new links get added at the end. You can choose a high level category that is crowded and end up on page 10 (PR0), although links on page 10 are still indexed by Google and Yahoo.
Update January 2005: The directory is growing fast. Every time I look, the amount of listings is significantly higher. New listings are placed at the end of the category, meaning that the PR value is approaching zero (when listed on page 17). I would no longer advise paying to join this directory for PageRank alone.
Traffic Value:

The fact that Microsoft owns the directory means that you would expect traffic galore. Microsoft has launched its own search "engine" and will push to compete with (crush) Google.
But, Microsoft doesn't seem to be pushing the Directory as:
- the link from the MSN home page is not highly visible
- there is no link from the new Microsoft tool bar.
- the traffic value can potentially grow once the directory gets better established.

Cost: $49 for 1 site
$99 for 3 sites
$299 for 10 sites
Sites Not Allowed: Gambling, adult and pharmaceuticals are the major groups of sites not allowed, but there are others. Don't get fooled into thinking that because they have a category with listings means that they accept those listings. I for one was fooled. They do have a 15,000 word Terms of Service document. The fact that they expect busy people to read this document is proof that there are way too many lawyers at Microsoft.
Approval Time: Links are approved very fast. I had a 1 site approved within hours and I received a reply on another the same day (on a Saturday).
Intangibles:
  • A listing in a major directory provides some legitimacy for a small business .
  • The submission process is a bit time consuming.
Recommendation: The Microsoft Small Business Directory is strongly recommended for anyone that is in the market for paid advertising. Your may not get a lot of traffic, at least for now, but the link value more than pays for the price of admission.

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