Links are a key to traffic, and one great source of free links is directory submission. You have undoubtedly seen these sites online. They are organized compendiums of websites on a variety of subjects. They feature a brief description of a site and then a link to the site. You can get traffic a few different ways from a directory. There will be those who surf there and click on your link. You can also get that highly desirable search engine bump from adding to your blog’s backlink collection. To make things even more enticing, some of the directories actually have their information “scraped” by a variety of other sites, multiplying the potential value of a link. There are paid directories. They charge a fee (sometimes nominal, sometimes costly) in exchange for listing your site. For our purposes here, we will focus on free directories. Free directories are those that will list your blog without charging you for the privilege. Their acceptance criteria may vary, and there is no guarantee that a directory will list your site. In most cases, however, inclusion is a very strong likelihood. Some directories are wide-ranging and contain an immense variety of categories. Others are specific to a certain geographical area or topic niche. Be sure to submit your blog to only those directories that would be interested in your content. Free directory listings can be completely free without obligation of any sort. Other sites, however, will require a link to the directory placed on your blog. Is the value of the link from the directory worth the hassle of the link from your blog? It depends on the directory. If you are dealing with a directory that is frequently visited and highly regarded by the search engines, it may be worth a link. If it is related to your specific niche and may be of value to your readership, it may also be a good decision. However, there are enough directories that do not require backlinks to justify avoiding many directories requiring reciprocal links. The “mother of all directories” is DMOZ. This is a human-edited compendium of web resources with an expansive array of categories and sub-categories. DMOZ ostensibly filters out “junk sites” and lists only those pieces of the internet that contain content that meets the varying standards of editors. DMOZ listings are coveted by many webmasters because Google apparently relies on the listings as one component of its valuation process for sites. A DMOZ listing can also generate some traffic in and of itself. Getting into DMOZ appears to be deceptively simple. You browse through the categories until you find the one that best matches your blog. You then click on the link for adding a new URL. A few simple questions are asked in a form, which you then submit. Although the “application procedure” is simple, getting listed is not a piece of cake. The amount of time a category editor will take before getting to your site and looking at it can vary considerably. Some have said that it took several years before DMOZ took a gander at their site. Even then, inclusion is not guaranteed. The requirements and expectations of editors vary and many seemingly adequate sites have been rejected by DMOZ. It is worth trying to get into to DMOZ. The possible upside is sufficient to warrant a quick application. However, the best advice to bloggers is to submit your blog and then forget it about it. If you get in, that’s great. If not, you are not alone. There are literally of thousands of free directories available. Most of them will probably have a category that is related to your blog. There are places online that maintain a list of directories. One example can be found here, which provides several hundred directories. New directories are being launched every day. Submitting to a new directory may not produce results on par with using an established directory, but inclusion can be a great deal faster. Additionally, new directories are often excited about adding new listings and are more likely to make free listings available without the requirement for a reciprocal link. You can find many new directories that are looking for sites by perusing forums populated by people in the online business. The Digital Point Forums, for example, contain an entire forum area dedicated to new directory announcements. Most directories make submission intuitive. Generally, you browse the categories until you find the area that is best-suited for your blog. You then click on a visible link to add a new listing. This generally brings you to a form you must complete. There are certain bits of information you will want to have handy when submitting to directories. You will need to know your site’s URL, its title, your email address, and you should have a brief description of your blog (as well as some of its keywords) available. Filling out forms like these can be redundant. As a result, special form submitting software (some of which is freeware) has been created to make the process easier. Those who use Firefox as a browser can also make use of a handy extension that makes completing forms of this sort much faster. The directory tips we just covered will work for any site. One of the great advantages to using a blog is that you can make use of these traditional tactics easily and effectively while also benefiting from strategies unique to blogs. An example of this is the blog directory. Blog directories live up to their name. They are organized directories consisting completely of blogs. They will list your blog under the appropriate categories with a description and other relevant information. The submission process is similar to that required of other directories. You may be asked to provide the URL for your RSS feed (if available), as well. Often, blog directories request either a link back to the directory or the inclusion of a graphical button on your blog as a precondition for inclusion. As blogging grows in popularity, these blog directories are becoming important locations for many searchers. Some people rely on these to find timely and interesting information instead of traditional search engines. You cannot afford to overlook listing your site on some of the more popular blog directories. You can find lists of blog directories in many places, or you can simply search for blog directories using your favorite search engine. One good list of directories can be found here. Some of the blog directories also attempt to double as active blogger communities. Thus, in some cases it may be necessary to create a membership to the site first. This is generally a quick and easy process. The ping is another unique tool for blogs that enables you to notify blog directories that your site has been updated. A ping is nothing more than a quick transmission to the blog directory, notifying them that there is new content. These pings can send you to the top of the “updated blogs” lists, improve your visibility and increase traffic. It has also been shown that pinging can alert spiders from search engines to check out your site for updates and indexing. Pinging should be done every time new content is added to your blog. However, if you are adding several posts in rapid succession, you may want to either ping only once or spread out your posts over a longer period of time. Many directories and blog services do not look at over-pinging favorably. The easiest way to ping directories is through the use of an automated tool. There are two popular pinging devices you can access that will notify a host of services every time you have made an update. The more venerable of the two is Ping-o-Matic. A newer entry into the free ping tool category is Pingoat. Pingoat operates a bit more quickly and seems to service more directories.