1. First of all directory must be site owner friendly. If directory links point to internal pages, then leave that directory alone because you won’t get any backlinks. You can find if this is the case by placing mouse over link Title and by looking if Status Bar points to site domain or to directory. This is your test #1
2. Open “View Source” and check Meta Tags ‘description and keywords’. You will be surprised how many directories never bothered to have Meta Tags at all and the rest will have them so badly written that Google will simply ignore that Directory and as result have it buried in SERP. Also make sure Directory doesn’t uses nofollow and if it does, then you’re wasting your time.
3. Find if directory is offering “More Info”, “Rate Site”, “Review Site” pages. If it does, then you will have 3 more backlinks from that Directory indexed by Search Engines. Remember to run test #1 because it applies to these links as well. And of course Directory itself as any other site must have quality content and not just an Index with backlinks. Professionally implemented SEO can tell you a lot about how Google sees that Directory.
4. Submission Form can tell a lot about directory as well. If you see well-formulated Submission Guidelines with well-defined list of dos and don’ts, then chance owner cares enough about what he wants to have in his Index is present and your site will be place amongst carefully selected, hand picked sites.
You also need to pay attention to payment schedule. If it says: “Free” and “Free with Reciprocal” then owner either noob or an idiot because if you were offered Free, then why would you want to use reciprocal? Beside, Free with Reciprocal is an oxymoron because you pay for submission with backlink to that Directory and real Directory operator will understand that and will never offers both at the same time.
5. Look at Directory in whole if the owner took his time to add content which includes About, Terms, Privacy, Contact, Site Map etc. pages, thus making his directory not only SEO friendly but user friendly as well by adding all kind of informative and useful to visitors’ stuff says that owner hopes people will come back for more and that is good news for your listing..
How many links that directory has will help you to determine if directory is active. 3 years old site with 1,000 links is bad news because it should have at least 5,000 links by now which says that the owner simply neglecting to promote his directory and 5,000 pending review submissions should tell you that you will get listed in that directory when hell freezes.
6. Stay away from directories that offer instant or overnight inclusion. As a Rule, owner will careless about quality of submitted sites thus making his directory nothing but link farm and thereafter totally useless as far as your listing in Google concerns.
7. Take your time and look at listed sites Titles and Descriptions. Good written Titles and Descriptions will tell you that owner has been taking his time on taking care about Editorial Integrity of his Directory. But if Description loaded with keywords like ‘flowers’ or ‘travel’, for example repeated 3, 4, 5, 6 and more times and whereas Title looks like Description means owner have no idea what he’s doing or all he cares is to make fast money and run in which case you’ll be better off if you forget about submitting to that directory and walk away.
8. Never worry about PR or Alexa’s ranking because worthless metrics or slimy green image on GTB will never reflect real value of any site including Directories. Instead Google for something like: best free web directories or free directories listing and see which directory and not directories list has been doing well in SERP. Just remember, that if you are chasing after PR, then 100 backlinks will give you your PR 4 or 5 but only quality Directories will have power to do that.