Directory Assistance - How Can I Help Your Blog?Blogging can be a deeply satisfying, intensely personal experience. Generally simple to use, blogs allow the household mom, the serial author, the political activist and the high school poet to publish and archive their best efforts and satisfy the creative muse in all of them. Whereas, in the past, publishing was a privilege for the elite few, it is now open to anyone with the time and the means to access a computer.
But if no one is reading the blogs, they can become a disheartening and frustrating experience. A lack of audience can even cost a blogger money - there are numerous blogs on the web that are intended to be significant sources of personal income, between advertising programs and personal product sales. A key step in getting a blog read, therefore, is the use of a specialized web directory known as the blog directory.
What is a Blog Directory?
A blog directory is not a search engine - it is an indexed list of blog links, broken up into categories and keywords for ease of reference. Blogs are submitted or invited for review; the directory looks over the material, and then determines if it meets the criteria for inclusion. Listing in a blog directory increases the chance that a blog will come up in search engine and keyword requests, meaning more users will ultimately be directed to read the blog.
There are as many different types of directories as there are categories of blog. There are directories for video blogs, personal blogs, business-only blogs, and hobby blogs. Some directories cater to the politically minded web journalist; others only admit a self-defined best-of-the-best by personal invitation, according to their own eclectic or exclusive criteria. Even more specific are directories seeking a narrow culture subset. The Ultimate Directory of British Blogs seeks out what they call British blogs, defined as much by culture and common language as by arbitrary terms of location.
In addition, directories are broadly divided between human-edited and automated submission directories. Human-edited directories maintain a staff of reviewers who examine each submission before listing or rejecting it. Automated systems look for keywords or organizational patterns in submitted blogs, and make determinations based on pre-set, machine-learned criteria.
How Do They Work?
Directories present a number of options or models for how they list blogs; equally as diverse as the way they categorize their indices. The basic model is the free listing - bloggers are not charged for the review and listing of their blog in the directory. Paid submissions require a fee - either one time or ongoing - for the review and listing of their blog on the site. Some directories require a bidding process for listing blogs, and some blogs have a 'featured' listing that gives a particular blog top billing over their other listings, for various reasons. Just to make things more interesting, any of these listing options can also include a link-back clause, namely that the user must display (in a matter that satisfies the directory) a link to the directory where their blog has been listed.
In theory, blog directories are simple to use; a blogger finds a directory they think is relevant, and submits their blog for listing. In practice, there are steps to make the process more profitable and effective than blind, mass submission. The first step is research; bloggers should visit forums related to their field of interest, and ask which directories have good results, or which are best suited to their category of writing. When submitting, bloggers should look into the directory's submission procedures and follow them exactly. The savvy blogger is never afraid to ask for advice, whether from the forum or a directory's contacts page. Sometimes a thoughtfully worded question will accomplish much more than a careless series of submissions.
A Few Free Ones
A handful of free directories bloggers may be interested in include bloglines.com, answers.com, blogfinds.com, technorati.com and boingboing.net
Each of these is a good choice for a blogger to consider registering and submitting to while looking to save money. None charge fees, and each one offers additional services beyond the blogging directory itself. Because of this, they are more likely to draw additional users interested in more than the directory, who then can follow up by perusing the listings for more information. At most, they require registration and a link-back, which are comparatively small demands. Some directories charge a minimum of five dollars for a review and listing, and others charge as much as 150 dollars for a front-page spot.
Bloggers should take the time to do their research, visit the forums of their preferred blogging communities and hobbies, and find out which directories best suit them. With a little effort and energy, a good blog can find a great directory, and reach the audience it deserves.