Directory links refer to links that originate in a web directory – also called link directories – that act as list or catalogs of websites.
Although still in use, web directories and directory links are legacy elements from the early internet. As their name implies, they were used to list entries of people or businesses online, such as their homepage address and contact information.
Web directories today also tend to include entries about a website that contains links to their content, organized into categories and subcategories. Besides a link, entries can also have the page’s title and a summary of its content.
In most link directories, entries cover entire websites rather than their individual pages. For organizational purposes, most sites are eligible for inclusion in only a handful of categories within a directory.
The initial idea behind web directories is to provide an alternative way to find information online by browsing topics instead of searching by keywords. Today, most directories allow for searches within their database.
Directory links and SEO
Submitting a website to web directories is a common SEO practice, with the intention to get backlinks in the form of directory links to the site. It cannot be made automatically, requiring manual input on behalf of the site’s webmaster, which can be a time-consuming process.
In the past, Google employees have talked discouragingly about directory links, stating that “directories are very often not the right way to build links.” So, the extent of their usefulness is debated.