Directory Registration (Paid)

Directory Registration

In the United States a couple of thousand dollars judiciously spent on registrations in for-fee directories can be a good start, and for less competitive niches is often enough to rank on the top page of Google for your main keywords. There are hundreds or thousands of directories, and Google ignores most of them. But some seem to really work, like Yahoo!,,, Best of the Web, and Joe Ant (I won’t mention any of my less obvious favorites for fear of jinxing them, or further bringing the scrutiny of Google upon them).

In Japan things are a bit simpler here than in the United States. There are several non-overlapping paid general interest directory aggregators. What a great idea, almost one-stop shopping. And Japan, the home of other great financial ideas like no tipping for service workers, brings us the concept of non-recurring, one-time fee directory registration. There are many one-time fee directories in the U.S., but the top ones tend to have recurring fees.

Yahoo Directory

The single best thing you can do for your site’s ranking is to register it in the Yahoo! Japan Category Directory. Whether this advantage will be as strong now that Yahoo! Japan is using Google search results I cannot say. But I still recommend it as step 1 in any Japan SEO campaign.

For commercial sites you need to use the Yahoo! Business Express service. The cost is a single, non-recurring fee of ¥52,500, about twice the cost of the United States Yahoo directory, but with no annual renewal. If you’re rejected (and they seem stricter than Yahoo! in the United States, so it pays to read their requirements), you have about a month to resubmit, one time.

More so than the United States, many Japanese use cell phones and mobile devices for internet access. Although the distinction between PC and mobile directories will probably not last much longer with phones like the iPhone out that can view any website, for now if your market is younger you might also want to register with Yahoo’s mobile directory. However, it’s unclear if this will add any benefit to your search ranking. I’d guess that it won’t. But a bundle of the PC and the Mobile directory costs ¥84,000.


XListing, pronounced Cross Listing, offers a service called XRecommend (Cross Recommend) that will buy your way into a number of other directories. For a one-time fee of ¥42,000 you get included in the directories of:

  • OCN
  • goo
  • Biglobe
  • Excite (yes, it lives on in Japan)
  • @nifty
  • ODN
  • Plus about 16 additional directories

These directories are mostly B level directories plus some ISP directories. I reckon that the sum total of these 20+ directories will help your search rankings less than a listing in the Yahoo! Directory, but if you have the money, it’s an easy thing to do. A mobile option is available here also.


Further down on the directory food chain is the J-Entry service offered by J-Listing. For a one-time fee of ¥42,000 (extra for mobile) you get listed in various B and C rank directories such as:

  • Livedoor
  • Fresheye
  • AUone
  • JWord
  • TBS
  • About 28 additional directories
  • About 15 news media sites

Sasou Directory

Newly launched in late 2011 is the Sasou Directory registration package. As explained below, the Submit! directory registration service operated by e-Agency lets you delegate to them the drudgery of registering in major Japanese directories. It seems that e-Agency decided that Xlisting and J-Listing had a good thing going, so they set out to copy the business model by creating their own package of partner sites, combined under the Sasou Directory moniker.

For a one-time fee of ¥42,000 you get listed in seven B and C rank directories:

  • Japan Times Online
  • Sponichi Annex
  • Magu-Magu
  • Uta Map
  • Teacup
  • FreeML
  • Also included: 7 mobile website directories

BPN Directory

For a one-time fee of ¥84,000 you get listed in the BPN Directory, operated by Sony subsidiary So-net Media Networks. Inclusion in this directory places you in directories on several Japanese news media websites, specifically:

  • Reuters and “Reuters President”
  • Jiji Press/Jiji Tsushin
  • Tokyo Keizai Online
  • AFPBB News
  • Diamond Online

If your site is rejected, you can fix it up and ask for a reevaluation for no additional fee. BPN is the most expensive of the directory aggregators.

e-Machi Town Business Directory

For a one-time fee of ¥39,900 you get listed in a directory on e-Machi Town, an aggregator of local information and a local community and “kuchikomi” cluster of 316 local sub-sites, each hosted at a different (but I don’t know how different) IP address. If you’re rejected you can fix up your website and ask for a reevaluation at no charge. The listing includes two apparently dofollow keyword anchor links of your choice. The alternate name for this business is SEO Town, and their SEO savvy shows: Rather than dump 300 links on you at once, they meter them out, 10 per day, I suppose in an attempt not to trip any spam/link farm algorithms at Google.


For a one-time fee of ¥42,000 you get a listing in iDirectory, which includes your own index page and up to six additional subpages for information like product and service descriptions, press releases, and company information pages. In addition to the listing in iDirectory your listing appears about 51 iDirectory partner websites you’ve never heard of such as:

  • Apparel Net
  • SpoBiz
  • TabiWeb
  • Tech Insight
  • Business Connection
  • HotTwit


SiteList is a circa-1999-looking, sparsely populated directory currently owned (from October 2010) by the publicly traded CyberAgent, which among other things runs the popular blog site Ameba. Apparently the previous owner, Adingo, had the balls to ask ¥42,000 to list your website in this relic. At present CyberAgent is not accepting any new registrations, and the relationship with the prior sales agent, SiteList Entry, has been terminated. But it’s worth keeping an eye on SiteList in case CyberAgent relaunches it with a paid listing option in the future.

Are Paid Directories Worth the Money?

If you paid for inclusion in Yahoo! Japan’s directory as well as the other six multi-site directories listed above (not counting SiteList) your dofollow link would be included in directories on well over a hundred different websites (several hundred, if you count the e-Machi Town sub-sites as being separate) at a cost of ¥343,400 (or about $4,000). All the directory companies and websites, as far as I can tell, are operated by legitimate companies with offices and staff, and are not fly-by-night SEO projects.

It’s fairly common for United States SEO campaigns for even fairly minor websites to initially spend a couple of thousand dollars just on directories, some of which cost $200-$300 in recurring annual fees. Amortized over two years, $4,000 represnts only about $150 in net present value monthly expense, and you cannot buy much advertising, marketing or paid links for $150. Everything in Japan is a little more expensive, so registering in all these directories would not be completely crazy, especially considering that other options competing for your SEO budget, like paid links, are a little harder to come by in Japan. It’s up to you and the nature of your project. On the other hand, I suspect that Yahoo alone accounts for about half of the benefit, and X-Listing and JListing perhaps for half of the remainder, so you could save money by skipping the last four.

Smaller Paid Directories

As I come across smaller general directories that charge a fee, I’ll add them here.

  • Iscle and Owl7 are general directories that require a 1-time evaluation fee of ¥924, payable by PayPal. Most of Iscle’s data appears to come from J-Listing, so if you’re registered there, you’re already included here. The links are nofollow on Iscle, but dofollow on Owl7.

Fee-Based Industry Specific Directories

A number of companies offer vertical industry directories that require payment of a recurring monthly or annual fee, often in the range of ¥10,000 per month. Although many companies listed in these kinds of directories rank highly, I consider this kind of recurring fee a last resort, because the cost really adds up over time.

These directories will surface in your backlink research.

One warning about these guys. They are often largish companies, some are publicly traded, and they buy a lot of advertising on Yahoo! Japan (and Google). Perhaps it’s just paranoia, but based on one of my experiences I suspect that they can put a word in (to Yahoo, at least) about a site and have it deep-sixed. So if you’re going up against such a company but don’t want to pay to be in their directory, be completely white hat and don’t give Yahoo an excuse for penalizing you by doing keyword stuffing or the like.

Submission Services

This website offers various submission packages that cover many of the directories listed above if you’d rather use an intermediary with submission experience. And they appear to have cut a deal with the directories to get their commission as a kickback (the old Japanese “back margin” trick), since they are not charging any more than the directories themselves do.
I believe that the Japanese website developer Webforce offers an English language front-end for some of Submit! services (i.e., Webforce’s registration services seem to be subcontracted to Submit!). Webforce adds a few thousand yen to the price, but you can complete the whole process via e-mail in English.