In his book Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website, SEO and online marketing expert Jon Rognerud shows you how to build a high-performance website and get top ranking on all search engines. In this edited excerpt, the author offers some tips on how you can improve your links by submitting your site to directories.

To get high search engine rankings, you should be providing quality inbound links to related, quality page contents. Make sure to always build links--the various types are discussed below--and the more you can get without spamming, the better. Use the competition in your niche to figure out which links are high-quality and where they link to and from. Studying the competition will help you get a higher ranking faster, and you won't be doing it blindly. Make sure to also look at page structure, content, and so on.

Be sure to follow the top directories. Here are some to start with:

Quality directories that include editors or fees are likely something to invest in. Many free sites are switching to paid submission only or have closed free submissions. The list above is simply a guideline to get you started. If a directory (and especially one you've never heard of) offers special incentives that seem spammy, don't do it. Google has come down hard on the directory addition strategy for search. If you think it helps your audience and is relevant within the directory, it may warrant a deeper look. The results in Google will show a slightly different display after installing the SEO for Firefox plugin. You may see listings that have a lower page rank but is shown before a page rank 6, for example. It's important to know that other metrics, like overall traffic, user behavior, domain age, recent cache date, total links to site and individual pages, help weigh the ordering of results.

Some paid directories are created not only to make money for their creators but also to provide a firewall to protect them from spam. Google and others also value these directories as providing better-quality links, and if you can afford it, it's wise to belong to them.

Quality directory links can be good for your traffic and ranking, and strongly elevate your brand. The assumption is, if somebody has the money and is willing to pay, then it's not likely a spammy site. Some of these sites insist on you using company names, not keywords, but don't try to trick the system. You can establish unique domains with keywords to it with a redirect, but it's considered tricking the system. Better to do it right.

In your marketing efforts, it's important to take advantage of the social web to build links and your brand. The list below is by no means comprehensive, but it offers a sample of social media sites to consider in your marketing efforts:

Yahoo! is one of the most complicated. Go to yahoo.com, select the "More Y! Sites" link, then click on the "All Products" link. You'll see everything in the Yahoo! world. Then select the "Directory" option. You're now in the directory (dir.yahoo.com).

To locate the best place for you to list in the directory:

  1. Locate a competitor, and type in their name.
  2. Click on it, and you'll see the breadcrumbs link to where it's located.

Yahoo! search has nothing to do with the directory. You have to enter the directory to see your listing. Think in terms of alphabetical listings. If you're deeply nested in the tree, it may not be the best place for you. Once you've typed in the competitor's name and found your place, click "Suggest a Link" to sign up for Yahoo!. Directory submission is $299 annually and does not guarantee inclusion. Your next step is to accept the terms of service--print, read and understand them.

Once you're in, there are four steps to update your listing:

  1. Understand the cost.
  2. Submit the site. You don't need to get the keywords in each link, don't sell in the description and be factual--no sales pitch. Look at some existing listings for examples of what to do.
  3. Submit your credit card info, such as your Visa/MasterCard and billing address.
  4. Submit the actual content via a review and confirm.

Wait at least seven business days for a response--it's not immediate. Don't forget that many people do a local search for businesses and services in their area. You should also build local and regional links from sites such as Yahoo! Local and Google Local, and through local organizations such as your chamber of commerce.