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SEO of Your Free Article Directory

Aug 17, 2007
Do you operate your own article directory? If so, you may benefit from some specific knowledge about better optimizing your directory for the search engines. Almost all article directories have the same components: database (MySQL or similar), backend software (ArticleMS, Article Dashboard, or something similar) and customizable templates for different pages of the site.

The dynamic nature of the directory allows consistent search engine optimization with little effort. If you have basic programming knowledge of php or a similar language, you can likely make these changes yourself. If you don't feel comfortable with this, you can try visiting forms for whatever software you are using or you can hire a programmer to do the modifications for you. Either way, it's worth it.

One of the easiest and most important things you need to address is the meta tags in your template headers. I will try to keep this tutorial general so that you can get a basic understanding of the modifications. Because there are a number of different programming/database/content management systems out there, I can't go into a great amount of detail. However, I would just like to point you in the right direction.

Back to the meta tags. You should have different templates for articles, members, article submission, etc. Within the html headers in templates you should have variables for "title", "keywords", "content" and "description". Do not leave these static. Regardless of which CMS configuration you have, it shouldn't be too difficult to define global variables based on some of the fields in your database.

The meta tags in the article page template are the most important. Within the header you can set your "title" meta tag to be the title of your article plus your domain name at the end. Set the "keywords" meta tag to be the keywords that the author has entered when submitting the article. The "description" tag could be set as the article summary, and so on. You get the picture.

It sounds basic, but believe me, there are many directory owners that have neglected this simple modification. If you leave all of the meta tags static, you are neglecting the awesome power of the dynamic CMS. Using variables in the meta tags allows you to give every article a unique page within the search results. It will have its own unique title and description and it will be more easily found since the keywords match the actual article. This also comes in handy for creating unique pages that can be added to social bookmarking sites such as Digg and Del.icio.us.

As you are no doubt aware, backlinks to your directory greatly influence your pages' ranking in the search engine results. The greater the number of links from quality sites with similar content, the greater the perceived importance of your pages. However, it you operate a general article directory, as I do, then you have a vast number of categories for different topics. Using article or blog marketing, you can "deep link" directly to your article directory category pages (eg. www.yourdomain.com/business.php)

One final way to optimize your free article directory for search engines is to submit your URL to as many directory directories as you can. Articlecritic, for example, lists more than 500 article directories, and it has a high Google PageRank and good traffic. Listing in many of these directories is free. Over time, the links add up and improve your position in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Whether you operate a directory of 500 or 50,000 pages, search engine optimization matters. Track how your pages are ranking within the search results for your targeted keywords. Remember that Google regularly changes its PageRank and SERP criteria. Optimization tricks that worked well three months ago, may not work as well now. It is up to you to ensure that visitors can find your site quickly using their favorite search engine.
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