Free Directories or Paid Directories: The Pros and Cons – A web directory is nothing more than a list of websites categorized by subject. If an internet user wants information about a particular subject, she simply goes to a directory, searches for the information she needs, and she’s given a list of relevant websites. Web directories are managed by humans, so each directory submission is reviewed before the website is added to the directory. This means that website owners need to be very meticulous when submitting a site. Submission guidelines must be followed to a T.

Despite the potential tediousness of directory submissions, they are very valuable for driving traffic to your site and increasing your search engine ranking. Each link from a directory is viewed as a one-way link by the search engines, and search engines place much higher value on one-way links than on reciprocal links. The older the directory is, the more value it is assigned by search engines, too, so submitting to well-established directories can also increase traffic and search engine ranking.

There are two ways to go about submitting your site to web directories. The first is to use free directories, and the second is to use paid directories. Here are the differences:

Free Directories

The primary advantage to free directories is that they are just that—free. Beyond that, there isn’t much redeeming about them, particularly if you’re serious about using directory listings to build your business. The major drawbacks are that you’ll have to wait awhile between the time you submit your site and the time that it’s listed, your link will be lost in a sea of other links because free directories are often so crowded, and a general devaluing of your link since it will be listed with many lower-quality sites.

Owners of free directories have to make their money somehow, though, and that’s usually by using Adsense or selling advertising space. Both Adsense and paid advertising space distract a visitor from the actual free listings, which can cost you traffic and business.

Paid Directories

If you’ve decided that you want to use a paid directory, you need to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Make sure that any directories you pay for are maintained by professionals and have a professional-quality layout. They should include a lot of content, including articles and high-quality resources. A paid directory should be able to guarantee you a turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours between the time you submit your site and the time your site is listed in the directory. It should offer the opportunity for deep linking as well.

Make sure that Adsense is not included in a paid directory, and a paid directory should have more features than just a sea of links. Look for a blog, articles, or other things that are there simply to enhance a visitor’s experience.

The next step is up to you. As a business owner, you have to decide whether paid directories are the right investment for you. After all, they are more well-respected by directory users, and links from paid directories are given more value by search engines than links from free directories.

If you’re not sure exactly how to proceed, consider consulting with an internet marketing profesional or search engine optimization expert. An internet marketing professional can sit down with you and help you decide how to make directory listings part of your overall internet marketing strategy. She can help you weigh the benefits of free directories and paid directories, and can ultimately help you pick out which directories will be most beneficial for your business. Don’t hesitate to get expert help from an experienced professional. When you see the increased traffic to your site and see all those sales, you’ll be glad you did!

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