TLC SEO: The Linking Man's Blog

Finding Link Directories in a Post Penguin World

Update: 10/28/2013 – A lot has changed, I would not try this strategy anymore. Use at your own risk. 


I am not a fan of directories. They don’t feel like something Google would want you to do, but – they aren’t against the rules (yet) and they are a valuable provider of anchor text, so I’ll use them. Many agencies have coveted list of free and cheap directories that they will submit their clients to, but since Google has deindexed numerous directories in the last year you can’t rely on dated internal lists of once valuable directories.


Image Courtesy of Flickr User xrayspx

To find directories that pass juice, I like to run a series of advanced search queries and pull the data into Excel.

Note: if scraping makes you uncomfortable, just use the directory option in Link Prospector – that tool is amazing.

First, let’s look at the language popular and powerful directories use and find some footprints:




There are a lot of variations you can use for directory footprints, but i generally go with the more widely used one. I like the following:

  • “Add URL”
  • “Add Site”
  • “Add your website”
  • “List your website”
  • “Add your url”

I am only comfortable with a few TLDs for directories, so I like to add the following site operators to the search query – (site:*.com OR site:*.net OR site:*.org). If you are looking for a ton of directories, you can break up the string of TLD site searches into individual queries.

The full directory prospecting search query looks like this

[Directory footprint] [keyword] directory (site:*.com OR site:*.net OR site:*.org)

So, if I was prospecting for a home improvement client, I would use the following search queries:

  • “Add your url” home improvement directory (site:*.com OR site:*.net OR site:*.org)
  • “Add Site” home improvement directory (site:*.com OR site:*.net OR site:*.org)
  • “Add your website” home improvement directory (site:*.com OR site:*.net OR site:*.org)
  • “List your website” home improvement directory (site:*.com OR site:*.net OR site:*.org)
  • “Add your url” home improvement directory (site:*.com OR site:*.net OR site:*.org)

Here is the type of site you are going to find:


Is it amazing? No. But, this site has a tool bar Page Rank of 3, I found it in Google so I know it’s not deindexed. I like the relevant keywords used in the <h1> tag and I don’t mind being listed next to any of these sites. All in all, I would feel comfortable and confident building a link on this site.

I was once at a conference where a respected SEO said, “If you are searching for directories, you are doing it wrong.” Well, I disagree. This is the only way to know if directories that would have been trusted a year ago are still in Google’s good graces.

If you need to find a TON of directories, I recommend using the SEOmoz FireFox toolbar scraper to speed up the process. I am a huge fan of this scraper, because it includes Moz metrics in the CSV export. However, I highly recommend  opening the CSV in excel and using SEO Tools for Excel to do Page Rank Look Ups [=GooglePageRank()] because in this particular case, Moz metrics shouldn’t be your first quality indicator. You need to know if these websites are still respected by Google, so having high DA is a bonus.




I've used LotusJump for about a year, and it's great. It's a little light on the analytics side, but it provides a good, task-based approach to SEO. It finds DIY link-building opportunities (e.g. forums, blogs, news articles, content publishers, directories, Q&A sites, etc.) on the Internet that are related to the keywords you're optimizing and prompts you to go there and build links.

The ways you have shared is not working anymore for getting rank for high competition keywords. Nowadays, resources p[age links building, donation links, PBN links are working very nicely. Thanks



This has turned out to be a resources that I've referred back to, from time to time and I just wanted to let you guys know that I've found it really useful!

Greg Smith


It depends on the type of directories you look for, your totally right about searching for the right ones

I disagree though that the example directory world would be a good link, there are to many OBLs compared to content, you need content on the page, you also didn't mention the page rank of the actual page, often in directories you get an 'unranked' page which is little value even if indexed by Google

Some good advice here:


I agree with you, using directories as backlinkss source doesn't seem like a very good option right now, the same goes to article directories.


Thanks a lot for such in depth link building tutorials. you're the man!!


Good points here - if it's indexed and you can get it you should take it. I actually scraped a directory of directories and made a Google Custom Search Engine with 1,000 directories in it. You can sort of forget the footprints and just search for keywords knowing that all of your results are from directories. Check it out - 

Free Man
Free Man

This is a great tips. But only problem is it usually take long to get your website listed in web directories because they receive many entries in single day.


Thank you; this is really helpful. Like it or not, the tactic works, and it's great to have a better idea of how to employ it responsibly.


A thought: do a reverse search for your competitors and see where they have listings. This may help narrow down which directories are working for them and you can easily make them work for you.


It annoys me that this would work, but I understand the reasoning behind using this type of tactic.