Directories vs. Search Engines

Directories and submissions: What’s the Deal?

You know I had a question posed by someone about what should be the best route to take for their submission needs. On the one hand, they heard that you should submit to the individual search engines as the best way to maximize your exposure. On the other hand, they were told that for the widest audience, they should submit to directories. So, my thought is… What’s the difference?

Well, there is quite a difference and to best explain this, I will try to stick to comparing two different sites: Google and dmoz.org.

First, dmoz. Some people are familiar with this site, others have not a clue what it is. DMOZ is what is called an ODP, short for open directory project. DMOZ is considered a directory. In fact, it claims to be the largest human edited directory on the internet. That’s right, I said “human”. The amazing thing about dmoz is that it is administrated by a network of volunteers. To date they claim over 5 million sites in their directory edited by almost 70,000 volunteers. That’s a lot of people to manage.

The thing that makes dmoz unique is that it is used by major search engines to enhance their own indices. Yahoo, Google, MSN, AltaVista all use dmoz to a certain degree to enhance and add to their own directory. The reason they do this is simply because it’s human edited. DMOZ has a set of guideline that its editors have to follow before adding a site to the index. They don’t accept every submission.

DMOZ looks at every site using the same guidelines to decide which is most helpful to the directory users. Sites that contain duplicate content (content that is copied from another site), contain a lot of affiliate links, are mirrored, redirect, or sites that are still under construction are usually not permitted on the directory. That is the whole reason search engines use their data, it’s been previewed and pre-qualified.

Now search engines go by a different set of rules. Directories are a list of various websites and their categories. Search engines are queries to find websites. That in itself is a huge difference.

Search engines do tend to use directory information, but tend to rely more heavily on submissions to their own sites. Search engines are also monitored by humans, but Google, for example, uses an algorithm and spiders to index sites and place them in the right order on the list. Search engines also tend to rely on the keywords and content of your site for the correct placement while directories like dmoz have you in a certain category.

Your position in the search engines is static and can change from day to day which makes it difficult to stay on top. But a majority of the consumer public uses the search engines for their queries.

The engines also allow in other sites that the directories won’t. Mirrored sites and sites with duplicate content are okay, in certain instances, although Google tends to frown upon duplicate content. Sites that are under construction and redirects are also welcome as the index changes daily.

In answer to my friends question about which is more important to submit to, my answer was to the individual search engines. The SEO industry has lost a lot of confidence in the directories because of their inconsistency in adding sites. Professionals have said, “Add your site to the directory and forget about it. If you get added; great. If not, then don’t lose sleep over it.” Even if sites are not in the directories, you can still be indexed by Google and just because you may be removed from the directories, doesn’t mean that Google will remove you.

So search engines are the way to go these days.

Hope that helps.

Good Luck