Before the age of search engines, the only way people could visit your website was to browse web directories. Nowadays, you won’t be able to find directory submissions on lists for SEO best practices. However, it’s still a worthy addition to your digital marketing strategy to bring in website visits and conversions.

A Short History Of Web Directories

In the early days of the internet, not too many people had internet connections, let alone websites. As many different websites emerged, it became too challenging to keep track of them all. A small group of people in Yahoo! pioneered the first web directory where they listed websites by topic and niche.

As the number of websites increased over the years, web directories made money out of boosting results in exchange for a fee. After a few more years, there were too many websites, and directories became too unwieldy to maintain.

Search engines emerged, and the popularity of web directories dropped dramatically. Today, they are still used for link building and digital marketing.

Web Directories In 2021

In the last decade, Google has aggressively cracked down on low-quality online directories making money collecting low-quality links. If you include web directories in your SEO strategy, you will have to do your due diligence to evaluate their merits. Here are the things to consider: 

  1. Quality – High-quality web directories will help your website achieve domain diversification. It’s important to identify quality directories in your niche and submit only to them. Indiscriminate submissions waste time and money and may lead to your website getting penalized by Google.

A web directory’s quality does not hinge on whether or not you have to pay to be listed. The question is whether or not they are in good standing with Google’s algorithm. One way to find a suitable directory for you is to scout where your competitors are listed.

  1. Relevance – Of course, you want to choose directories in your niche so that you can reach your target audience. Use your own search keywords to look for directories that are closely connected to your field.
  1. Variety – Using a variety of short- and long-tail keywords could greatly benefit your lead generation efforts, as well. Online directories can help you reach new markets through a more diverse link profile.

A diverse, well-thought-out SEO strategy uses many different avenues, including content marketing and social media. Online directory submission should make up a small fraction of your resources and overall budget. But if you choose carefully, you can leverage these directories to your benefit—more warm leads are directed to your website, and your strong content and persuasive calls to action will be there to finish the job.


In 2021, directory submissions are still a viable option when it comes to SEO. Like any other facet of your SEO strategy, directory listings take a lot of time and effort to research. If you make smart decisions, you will only benefit from the directories that you choose. You can boost your brand visibility and bring in many more leads as long as you choose high-quality, relevant, and varied directories to house your links.

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