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Directory Ranking Criteria

Criteria Description
Quality of Editing A good directory will have strong editing standards that are consistently followed. A poor directory will approve all submissions without individually reviewing sites. ****
Age of Site It is believed that Google gives more weight to links from older sites than newer ones. Google's top ten is usually filled with older sites. The reason this theory makes sense is that spammers routinely build throwaway sites. They know that their methods will eventually be discovered so they abandon the domains and move on to new ones. ****
Number of Unique Backlinks The number of backlinks pointing to a directory. To be more exact, the number of backlinks from separate domains and separate IPs. Having 1000 links from the same site may not provide you with much, in fact it could even hurt if predominate (either now or in the near future). ****
Quality of Backlinks Backlinks from trusted sites are believed to be weighted higher. Links from .gov and .edu sites are considered as trusted sources. It is possible that the Search Engines may use human intervention to identify some trusted sites. ****
Unique Content

Unique content is a plus for any website.  Without unique content the Search Engines have little motivation to visit and index the site.   Since many directories tend to have many of the same sites listed, with the same titles and descriptions unique content can be a challenge.  

A good directory will create a unique category structure that would help define the directory. A bad directory will find a free category dump, even if it used by thousands of other directories. Uniqueness in the titles and descriptions of the listings are a definite plus.

Apart from the directory, any additional pages of unique content on the website can only help.
Unique Hosting I have tracked directories for 5 years and have found that networks hosted on the same IP are a very bad sign of quality. When I see a large group of directories hosted on the same IP I know the chances are good that the they will be nowhere in 2 years. Hosting on the same IP c class can have a similar effect but I believe that the effect is not as serious. ****
Link Approval Time

Ranking for Link Approval Time is subjective. A six week wait for a well-established PR5 directory is fine but not impressive for a brand new directory with few listings.

On the other hand, a directory that does not ad new free listings does not even make it to the "best of" list. There are many directories that no longer actively add listings. These directories may not have the resources to review the large number of submissions. They may have plenty of listings already and adding newer sites will not help the quality of their directory or make any difference in their current advertising revenue. The problem is that they don't inform site submitters.

Other directories offer free submission, but rarely approve freebies. Their real goal is to get paid submissions and may use the free submissions to try to "up sell" submitters into a paid submission.

Directory PageRank The number of The PageRank of the main directory page (not always the sites home page). ***
Search Engine Rankings A site that ranks well in the search results is likely a good candidate to pass on PageRank. Conversely, a site that is considered risky or spammy is not likely to pass on full Pagerank. I use Google as the main indicator here as their algos are the most advanced.
Good: A site that comes in Google's top 20 for a wide range of search terms.
Bad: A site that is is not in the top 20 often and comes in 5th in G for its own name.
Note: Since age and other factors affect search results, this criteria is best for comparing similar sites (like 2 older paid directories).
Category Design A site that scores well here will have a well planned structure with plenty of sub-categories. The theory here is that your link will be worth more if it surrounded by similar sites and related text. A well planned structure also makes it easy for the submitter to find the most appropriate category, improving the ultimate quality of the directory. On the other hand, a directory with only 20-30 categories will not be able to handle future growth well. A category simply called " Internet" will soon have thousands of entries, spanning hundreds of pages. ***
Submission Process The efficiency of the submission process is reviewed here. Ideally, a directory would allow me to get in, add my site(s) and get out fast. Sites that ask for too much unnecessary information would score low here. On the other hand, the submission process shouldn't be too simple as to sacrifice the quality of the site categorization. ***
Traffic Traffic used to be a more important criteria but with the number of directories today, traffic has lost much of its importance. In reality, few people use directories to find information they want. So if you submit to one free directory, you should do it more for the PageRank link than for potential traffic. Traffic may become more important if the Search Engines start using traffic information as part of their ranking criteria.

The Alexa rating is an obvious choice to use to judge traffic but I don't rely on Alexa alone as the nature of the system is open to manipulation. I also base the traffic ranking on the reputation of the directory and the way it is promoted. Some directories are natural offshoots of related businesses that point search traffic to the directory. I would mostly be looking for traffic coming from the target audience of the directory (the general public for general directories, webmasters for webmasters directories). Advertising can also help a directory attain traffic.

Traffic will also depend on how appealing the directory is to the end user. Things like search speed, usefulness and ease of use all affect long-term traffic.

A good industry specific directory can be an exception as these sites can bring good, qualified traffic to your site.
Internal pages of directory have unique titles and meta descriptions The Search Engines use titles as an important factor in their rankings. Some directory software does not come with the ability to create unique title and meta tags for internal pages.  In other cases, directory owners do not make the effort to create unique tags for each category. ***
Support A good directory will promptly and politely respond to inquiries. Support is especially important for paid directories. Contact information should be readily available on the directory. ***
Overall Impression

There are so many directories that not all of them will be around a year or two down the road. Others will be unprofitable, causing owners to lose interest. It is obvious that some owners have put little effort into their site. The directories that are appealing, fast, useful to users, and easy to use have a better chance of making it. It helps if the people running a directory have good knowledge of classification. The real payback comes years later when the little-known directory is popular and your listing is on page 1 of a high PR page. On the other hand,

Since there are so many directories, a directory with a a unique selling point would also provide a positive overall impression.


Negative Ranking Factors

Having one or more of these negative factors is enough to disqualify a site for consideration for our "Best of" directory lists.

Nofollow Link Attributes The directory should should not be have the "Nofollow" attribute on it's outgoing links.
Scripted Links Some sites try to preserve their pagerank by not sharing it with the sites they list. These links may use JavaScript redirection techniques (or similar types of redirection). Most spider-based search engines, like Gogole will not give you credit for the link. PR does not get passed to your site. Avoid these directories unless they can provide you with good traffic.
Robots.txt Exclusion The robots.txt file can be used to block major search engines from accessing certain folders, or pages of a site. A directory with too many zero pagerank files could be using this tactic. If a robots.txt exists you should be able to view it by entering www.directoryname/robots.txt
Duplicate Content Some people create a directory, add categories and often, some links. They then make a copy of the data and sell it, and then they sell it again and again. Other directory owners may use the exact same categories in multiple sites. Rather than create their own categories, many directory owners use a canned script or a pre-loaded set of categories. After a while, there are thousands of directories with the exact same categories.. The problem is more acute when website are listed with the same title and description. These sites will be pretty useless as the Search Engines will identify the duplication and ignore them. Google has also spent much effort on penalizing scraper sites that don't have any unique content.
Multiple Directories on same IP Some directory owners host a multiple directories on the same IP or IP C class. It is likely that a listing in more than one of these directories would be counted as one by the better search engines.

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