Tech Toucan

Directory Submissions: Do They Still Work? [Case Study]

Over the last few months I’ve been very interested to note that some well-known search engine marketers have been extolling the virtues of directory submissions to build links.

Frankly, I thought directory submissions died out years ago as a link building method – it’s just easy, too automated, too spammy. But what if I’m wrong?

What if directory submissions have been slowly making a comeback and I’ve been too pig-headed, too focused on building “difficult” links through content marketing to notice the missed opportunity right under my nose?

Does link building with directory submissions still work? Uncover our SEO case study and find out our results for yourself. Important information for anyone building websites or a blog.

Furthermore, as blog networks are becoming ever riskier, could link building through directory submissions serve as a suitable alternative for building “base links” to a new site in a relatively easy manner?

Any regular readers out there will know what happens in these cases; I go out and fully test the theory (rather than relying on forum gossip) and then report back to you with the results. So, do directory submissions impact your search engine traffic, and if so, how?

Building Links with Directory Submissions

As I’ve mentioned before, I maintain a network of small content sites. These are generally either blogs or WordPress-based affiliate sites that I have created content for but never really got around to marketing. Over time, when I see a site starting to perform well in Google with minimal effort I often then put some focus on the site and try to grow it into something valuable.

However it’s these sites that often act as my “testing ground” for link building tests and case studies like this one.

For the purposes of our experiment I decided to choose an aged domain filled with good quality content (though a crappy theme) that I own. It has a handful of social bookmarks thanks to SocialAdr and a couple of guest posts on related sites.

But apart from this, pretty much no link building whatsoever. And as it is in a competitive niche it basically wasn’t showing up in the search engines for anything impressive or exciting, and so it is this site that I decided to build some directory links to in order to observe the results.

The Link Building Case Study Details

Just because you actually submit your website doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily get accepted. And of course even if your site does get accepted it can take Google some to discover your new links.

In other words there’s no point in doing half a dozen directory submissions; you’ll likely see next to no results.

Instead, I decided to submit my site to a large number of different directories, spread out over a 4 week period. In the hope of building semi-quality links I submitted my site only to directories of PR3 and above, which I also hoped would encourage Google to find these sites a little quicker. In this way I hoped to see a gradual increase in incoming links and, in response, more traffic from Google.

In total, I submitted my new site to 143 directories spread out over a 28 day period. Many more submissions are no doubt still pending and may be approved some time in the future.

How To Build Links With Directory Maximizer

Submitting your website to directories is a boring and repetitive process. Anyone who has ever tried to submit to numerous directories manually has no doubt experienced the boredom associated with such a task.

However there is a solution, in the form of Directory Maximizer. This service, that I used to use extensively when directory submissions were a safer form of link building, does all the hard work for you.

The process of using Directory Maximizer to submit your directory listings is simplicity itself. Firstly, add the details of the website that you’d like to submit. To make your submissions appear a little more natural you can submit multiple site names and descriptions, ensuring that you don’t suddenly upset Google with hundreds of identical anchor text links pointing to your site.

directory submission link building 1

Then click the “Place A Link” option. Simply fill in this form, selecting how many directories you’d like to submit to and how long you’d like the process to take, then click the submit button.

directory submission link building 2

From beginning to end though the whole process of submitting to our 100+ directories took less than 10 minutes. In other words if the process of building directory links works, it is a highly scalable and time efficient link building method. The question is whether it works or not…

Directory Maximizer Review & Case Study Results

So how did our site perform?

As of the time of writing, my test site has been submitted to 143 different directories. A few of these submissions have been made each day, going on throughout September 2014.

The real question is how our traffic has performed.

Overall, our test site saw an increase in traffic of almost 33% as shown in the image below. The orange lin represents traffic in August, while the blue line represent traffic in September, as the directory submissions were being drip fed.

directory submission link building 3

But let’s break this down a little more. You see, what concerns me is that this number might be artificially inflated. What if, for example, we saw an increase in traffic simply from moderators of those directories? Them simply clicking through to decide on whether to list our site?

So let’s take a closer look. As suspected, direct traffic is a lot higher. This is most likely for the reason just mentioned; individual directory moderators coming to check out the site that we submitted.

directory submission link building 4

But look at that “organic search” figure there; that’s a 57% increase in search engine traffic. And let’s not forget that these directory submissions are ongoing. I expect to see new approvals – and as a result new links – appearing for some weeks to come.

Conclusion: Do Directory Submissions Work?

The question we set out to uncover was whether or not directory submissions are an effective link building technique any more. The evidence so far suggests that it most certainly is. Whilst traffic levels for this site are relatively low, we did see a 57% increase in organic search traffic in the space of a month just from these directory submissions.

I certainly wouldn’t want to rely solely on directory submissions for building links – over time there is a risk of an over-optimization penalty – but if you’re looking for a quick and simple way to boost your search engine traffic then using a tool like Directory Maximizer is a simple, effortless way to do just that.

Do you still use directory submissions? What other easy link building methods have you had success with? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below…

Does link building with directory submissions still work? Uncover our SEO case study and find out our results for yourself. Important information for anyone building websites or a blog.

Richard Adams

I'm obsessed with blogging, social media and content marketing. If you want to take your blog to the next level then please follow me on Twitter.


  • Great case study Richard! I am still very reluctant to use a service like this because of the quality. Can you comment on the quality of the backlinks that Directory Maximizer provided? Thanks!

    • Brian – unless you’re using top-tier directories where you pay a princely sum for each submission these kinds of directories aren’t great quality. I wouldn’t want to use them for authority sites or client sites but I *have* seen good results for niche sites. That said, even then they’re only part of a larger mix of links.

  • I am still on the fence with the whole link directory submissions, In 2 minds whether to promote through directories, What is your current seo ranking now that it’s been a while since your submissions?

    • Hey John,

      If I’m honest I have so many niche sites I can’t remember which one these tests were applied to – and quite frankly I may well have added extra links from other sources since that first experiment. Sorry I can’t be of more help on this one!

  • I’m reading this in 2017 and wish I knew if the directories work now….have used directories in the past with good results and not sure now if they would be effective …. if the directory has a good PR I assume it would help you …..but, still want to Thank You for an interesting article!

    • Hey Rodney – thanks for the question. These days I would personally stay away from all but a tiny handful of directories. I have a new article arriving in the next few weeks where we discuss this exact topic so keep your eyes peeled 🙂

Hi I'm Richard and I've been building content-based sites since the year 2000.

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