A friend is trying to grow her law practice and asked me if she thought this email she received would help get her website noticed:

Subject: Submit to 3000+ quality directories

Do you really know what it takes to quickly
generate high-quality traffic to your Web Site?

Listen up. I must let you in on a few insider *secrets*:

Instead of waiting months to generate sales on your
site, you can start gaining the hits you want right now.

Click here to visit our website

I didn’t click and told her not to go to that site either.

Anyone who is telling you to submit to “3000+ quality directories” is trying to dazzle you with numbers and lead you down a pointless path of quantity.

Think about it.  How many Internet directories do you know about? I’ll guess that you can think of maybe 5, if we stretch the definition to include social networking directories like Twitter and Facebook.  The Internet names that come to mind the quickest, like Google and Bing, are search sites, not directories, so they don’t count.  Directories maintain a list of sites or users, and they provide some information about each entry. True directories like The Open Directory Project and Yahoo! Directory are organized by topic and let you browse as if you were walking down a library aisle.

Even if you were going to combine the number of important search sites and directories, you are still below 50.  You’re way below 50 into maybe the teens if you’re a local business only interested in showing up where potential clients will see you. If you’re selling pet grooming services in San Francisco, you probably don’t care whether or not you’re listed in a Chinese directory.

One search engine optimization (SEO) publication I subscribe to (yes, there are SEO journals!) suggests 25 directories that are worth trying to get in.  Most are manually edited, and they charge a little or a lot to be listed. Yahoo! requires “only (sic) $299″ per year to be listed, but most charges are lower.

Personally, I don’t often use directories, and think I am a typical Internet surfer in that respect. That means a major value of any directory listing is the link which Google sees from that directory to your site.  Google likes links from authoritative directories, like ODP and Yahoo!  When a good directory includes your site , Google lists your pages higher in its search results.

But, submitting to hundreds, or thousands, of unread directories is not going to impress Google or other search engines.  Nor are 3000 submissions going to increase high quality traffic to your site.

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet for search engine optimization.  There are no automated steps that, if followed, will guarantee that  your site will show up on the top of results for searches that will make you money.

I stopped my friend from wasting her time and money responding to the spam email.  She’ll be better off doing some common sense optimizations that work!  I’ll share in another post what I told my lawyer friend to do to improve her position in Google results.