Directory Registration (Free)

In the English speaking world there seems to be a progression of directories from the expensive ones like Yahoo and Business.com gradually working down through moderately priced directories to the cheap $15 directories and finally ending in free directories. In Japan there are expensive directories and free directories, and no in-between. You would think that the remaining old-time directories like JOY/Japanese Open Yellowpages would have gone pay (as one of its contemporaries Best of the Web has in the United States), but I guess the market isn’t receptive to that.

Open Directory Project

What about the Open Directory Project (ODP/Dmoz)? Yes, there’s a Japanese version. It seems to be moribund, with Google Japan dropping it from their website circa 2012, and even before they dropped it they themselves only rated it a PageRank 4 directory. I have submitted to it and have not gotten listed (not so different from the U.S. version in that respect). I don’t know if there are any editors on the take as in the United States. I’d suggest just submitting and then forgetting about it. Maybe you’ll luck out.

If you do get listed in ODP Japan, one of the advantages is that the data is used by many Japanese who have created clone directories on other domains. I’m not sure if these duplicate directories have much SEO value, but they couldn’t hurt, and they would help to mask your other link activities from the competition. You’ll come across many ODP clones in your competitor back link research. Unfortunately, such clones, once created, never seem to be updated with new ODP data. But if you do manage to get listed in ODP you’ll be in any such clone sites created in the future.

Note that the Japanese ODP site is not on a Japanese domain, which may reduce its authority a bit.

Association and Vendor Directories

If you are doing SEO for a company that is a member of any association with a website, has certain government certifications or licenses, or uses products from a manufacturer that has a website that lists its vendors, by all means make sure the company gets listed on those websites.

Sometimes a trade association will have a listing of members, but it will be hidden behind a search form, not include web page links, or have nofollow tags (because a web contractor felt it should). In such cases a little education and lobbying of the association staff can often remedy things.

These kinds of links will also surface in your backlink research, so don’t skimp on that.

Your client is not going to immediately be able to think of all the potential associations and vendors and licenses he has. You will need to draw these ideas out in an interview and brainstorming session with the client, perhaps after showing the client some of the links that his competitors have gotten.

Minor Free Directories

There are hundreds and probably thousands of smaller directories. Some of them are dead. Some look like SEO spam projects that were started with stolen data and then abandoned. Many have no way to submit sites. There are a lot of link exchange directories, if you don’t mind having dozens of tiny banners cluttering up your site, but mutual links probably don’t do as much good in Google as they once did with Yahoo! Japan.

On another page of this website I’m maintaining a database of a few of the better free Japanese directories that I’m aware of.

Many free directories are based on a few open source directory applications, so they look very similar and have similar submission guidelines. They also presumably have a similar footprint to Google and may be discounted somewhat in authority because of that. The most common Japanese open source DIY directory applications in rough order of popularity are:

  • Yomi-Search
  • Netsurf Navigator (Tera)
  • Cosmo Navi
  • Incredible Directory
  • Shadow/Ninja
  • Webnavi
  • Gates96’s Search
  • Weblink/PMC
  • Murakan’s Cool

You can find these during your backlink research, and by using various keywords and searching for them in Yahoo! Japan or Google.

The most valuable of these directories are the industry-specific niche directories and the local and regional directories. Many of these will have a Google Page Rank of 4 or so. Some of the industry directories will precipitate a sales call from the directory operator, who has set it up as a honeytrap to find potential clients, but it’s easy to just politely decline their services. To give you an idea of what’s out there, Busitry operates over a hundred free industry-specific directories under its PortalNet brand.

Not all of the directories offer dofollow links. Some redirect their outbound links via a logging script and some are nofollow. Some attach the links to an image, thus losing the anchor text that you’d ideally like to have. I don’t worry too much about these details. There are so many of these directories that everything averages out in the end.

Although it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth, if you want to set up your own Japanese directories, you’d be advised to choose one of the less popular applications, and in particular avoid Yomi-Search, which is ubiquitous. Or if you’d rather outsource it, SEO Technology Co., Ltd. will rent you from 30 to 300 pre-existing aged Japanese directories for your own use. You handle new registrations, they’ll handle the maintenance and server end.

Submission Services

There are a number of directory submission services, for both paid and free directories. One of the better ones is Submit!, offered by the respectable 100-plus-employee e-Agency interactive marketing company. In addition to offering a free directory registration service, they will also act as agents in registering with the fee-based directories, which can be nice if you find yourself in a dispute with Yahoo! Japan over a rejected listing or you want to challenge the category or description or non-canonical URL that Yahoo used in your listing.

Registering with Japanese Search Engines

By popular demand, we now have a page on Japanese search engine submisssion.