Free internet directories are basically sites that list other website based on what category they fall under. It’s sometimes pretty hard to say which “general” catagories exist, because pretty much every free directory has it’s own set of categories – but you can pretty much imagine things like:

  • Entertainment
  • Education
  • Science
  • Religion
  • Bulgarian Sledge riding
  • Jewish clown skills
  • etc …

These websites are normally pretty fickle when they choose which sites they choose to list. By fickle, I mean that as long as you meet their requirements, they’ll link to just about friggin’ everything.

Now, why would you want to be linked on their site? Well, if you’re reading this blog I’m going to assume that questions doesn’t need answering. But there is a downside to this link-whoring, and one that isn’t always easy to spot: some of these directories are spam targets and don’t really care. You want to avoid these ones like the plague, otherwise you’re not going to be scoring any brownie points with any search engines. I’m not going to tell you how to spot these, because it’s not really a science, but just keep you’re eye out for spam linkage.

Directory requirements: what do they want?

  • Nothing, just your link
  • A link-back
  • MONEY!
  • Blood

Basically, unless you’re either a) rich or b) a link directory yourself or c) a vampire; you’re gunna want to go with the first requirement.

Now, how to do you go about finding these free directories? Well, luckily, someone has done all the work for us, namely: Info.Vilesilencer which has a list thats just beyond huge, it’s friggin’ massive.

So I found a huge list based on the first requirement and with my SudokuWorld.be link ready to be whored out I thought to myself: “hey cool, so I have the links to to loads of places that’ll link to me for free – lets go!”. And when I finished, it was about 10 hours later with 40 free directories done and no coffee left in the house anymore – thats right, it takes fucking ages to get these links in. Why?

  • All directories have different forms
  • All directory forms have different elements to fill in
  • Most of the directories I used had captchas so unreadable it took me 10+ times to get it right

Which 40 did I use? Well these (which I all hope are non-spammy and proberly reasonably popular):

+http://www.el.com/links/sudoku.asp
+http://www.allthewebsites.org
+http://www.exactseek.com
+http://www.wikidweb.com
http://www.clasione.com
http://www.abilogic.com
http://allfreethings.com/?textlink
+http://www.geeksonsteroids.com/directory
+http://www.illumirate.com
+http://www.info-listings.com
+http://www.iozoo.com
+http://www.findhound.com
http://www.hedir.com
http://www.feedpub.com
http://fabaroo.com
http://www.addurl-free.com
http://www.apexoo.com/directory
http://www.directorydelux.com
?http://www.addyoursitefreesubmit.com
http://www.gdotz.com
http://www.sgtsearch.com
+http://searchsight.com/Directory.htm
http://www.gamsis.com
http://www.addyoururl.org
http://directory.lonelyway.com
+www.a-web-directory.info
+http://www.bzzu.com
+www.deregular.com
+http://www.directorylizard.com
www.buzz-directory.com
+http://www.dreamsubmitting.info
+http://www.generaldirectory.biz
http://www.indiadir.org/
http://www.ipsarion.com
+http://www.kinds.biz
+http://link-beam.com
+http://www.linktoyour.com+http://www.londovor.com
+http://www.coolwebsitelistings.com
+http://www.eaproject.com
+http://www.esearchresearch.info
+http://www.boomdirectory.com

Where + means that everything went ok and my link was submitted with no problem, and – means that as far as I could see, the link wasn’t submitted and ? means I don’t know what the fuck happened.

Some advice: during my attempts to whore out my links to these sites, I noticed some sililarities between all of these sites that might be useful for anyone else doing this kind of stuff:

  • Right a description of your site in some external program so you can copy & paste it into the form
  • Right your name and email address in the same program for each copy & pasting
  • On the directory, always first find the cateagory that matches your site, because almost all of these directory want you to submit from there

This helped me immensely, because typing that stuff 40 times would be the same as peeling potatoes using a toothbrush – boring.

So did they bring in any traffic?

I submitted to the first 40 sites about 2 weeks ago and the amount of traffic I have received from them combined: almost close to 0 hits. Which is pretty dam disappointing to be honest, especially after all the jumping through loops I had to do to get my site listed.

But 2 weeks is like 2 seconds in the world of SEO linking, so I’m going to have to wait and see on this one. But if you want my advice as of right now: don’t bother with the free linking directories – bother with specialized directories and more reputable ones, which I will try and blog about some other time, as this is where the hits really come from (at least for me they do).

Trying to increase traffic to a website can be pretty confusing at times, there’s no real science to it. Most of your time is spent reading tips ‘n tricks, experimenting with them and then watching your log files accumulate (sometimes almost hypnotically for 20 hours a day). After reading what seemed like an endless amount of these so-called tips, and a seemingly infinite amount of tricks, I came across something more interesting than your normal black/white hat trickery. After some initial thought, it seemed promising enough to whack on my log watching goggles and get comfy!

My plan was simple, because the very nature of SudokuWorld, it seemed pretty reasonable that it should be embeddable into Facebook. In fact, why only Facebook? Why not the world! I drew my evil plan:

  1. Produce an embeddable version of the SudokuWorld play page
  2. Use this new page to make widgets for Facebook / iGoogle / Blogs

Step 1 was pretty easy to be honest. I pretty much threw something together within a few hours that was basically a mini version of the play page of SudokuWorld, and almost instantly usable via a standard iframe, it was pretty cool, as can bee seen. This was actually the easy part of my evil “embed SudokuWorld every-fucking-where” plan, although I initially thought it would be the hardest.

Step 2 was a friggin pain the arse. I initially thought: “hey, it’s an embeddable iframe! Throw the html at a few things and Bob’s your aunties sisters caretaker”. And after a couple of hours of messing around with Facebook application development, I went of to visit my good ol’ friend Google to see if there was an easier way to do this. And guess what? obviously there was. It came in the name of WidgetBox, the all purpose widget making type system. So I signed myself up, threw some html at it and watched in enwonderment at the resulting usefulness: a SudokuWorld Widget that could be put in Facebook, Bebo, WordPress and all other sorts of things.

So after adding it to Facebook, iGoogle, Bebo, WordPress and leaving an embeddable system available, I started informing friends, aquantencies and general strangers about the new all-singing, all-dancing, SudokuWorld widget. But this wasn’t enough! No, I wanted more, more I tell thee! So I started adding it to the directories of Facebook, iGoogle and WidgetBox (so that the application can be added by all their millions of users); and for this I have some advice to impart:

  • Facebook requires at least 5 additions of the application before it will allow you to submit it to a directory – so make sure you have some Facebook friends ready and willing!
  • WidgetBox and iGoogle both have a human operated screening process before the widget is added to their directory – so don’t do anything obviously stupid or unethical

When this was all I done, I let it simmer for a few days to see if any sort of traffic would come from it (while of course getting my hopes up for the billions and billions of Sudoku fans just waiting to crawl out of the proverbial webwork). What did I actually get? Well:

After 2 days

Facebook: 27 users
bebo: 35 users
WidgetBox: 92 users

Outcome: bright and breezy – not too shabby for a beginner

After 7 days

Facebook: 91 users
bebo: 40 users
WidgetBox: 156 users

Output: wahoo!

Conclusion

But did this actually bring any traffic to the site? Well, luckily I wasn’t stupid enough to forget to put a link to the website, so hopefully, some sort of traffic flowed through the pipes to my tip pot? Well obviously the embedded page is located on SudokuWorld, so traffic is almost a given, but unfortunately I was stupid enough to make the embedded page a double redirect into the site, so pretty much all the referral traffic is reported upon the same site – doh! But I have seen that the SudokuWorld.be referral ranking has risen pretty high, which is a pretty much an indication of the time I spent doing this brought in some traffic! Which means I didn’t waste my time completely!

Let me do a quick flashback in this first post to the position I’m in at the moment:

(queue wavy transition effect here)

SudokuWorld.be was built, it was built using php and some good old html editing (of course I made the Sudoku Generator in a completely different way, but thats for another blog). After it was done and tested, I started the translation process and it was translated into Dutch (the native language were I live) – more translations were on the way, but I wanted to start already.

So how did I start? Well, I took the easy approach to generating hits, the easy but not really effective way: AdWords. Most of my website hosting is done with One.com, who happen to give you 50 euros worth of free AdWord credit with each hosting package bought. Armed then with 100 euros in credit, I setup my AdWords targeting both English and Dutch speaking countries (to be honest there are only about 1.6 Dutch speaking countries – Netherlands and a little bit more than half of Belgium). The ads instantly started returning hits and the AdSense ads on the site instantly started bringing in some dollars.

This lasted about 1 week (having set my daily allowance to 14 euros), and it brought in a huge amount of traffic for only the beginning of the site:

  • 1995 unique visits
  • 11,690 page views
  • $9 in AdSense revenue

Instantly, I saw that my AdSense revenue was incredibly low in comparison to my website. Perhaps theres something wrong with my AdSense placing? Who knows! I put it on my list of things to investigate – because the AdWord funds ran out and I didn’t want to spend any more money on until I make some more, I decided I was going to have to do this the hard way.

With my AdWords campaign finished, my hit rate went back down to almost 0 and I realised with a very downtrodden sense of disappointment, that i’m going to have to do something else to generate traffic. After reading a few articles online I decided I would do 2 things:

  • Attempt to gain links from popular websites
  • Improve my site for search engines

And then I let our a deep frigging sigh – this started looking like hard work.

(end wavy transition effect here)

So here I am, this is my current position, I’m now going to get on with attempting some sort of linking from popular sites (or probably any old site really), to see if this helps improve my hit rate. I also thought about presenting SudokuWorld.be through a “gadget” that could then be linked into iGoogle/Facebook and all those kind of things (basically making a mini version of the play page and presenting it through a iFrame) – who knows if this will increase traffic.