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Looking For Links In All The Wrong Places?
by Eric Ward
Updated November 2011 - original 2005 | More posts from Eric Ward

In their frenzy to build links to curry favor with the engines, some link builders miss a far more important target: People.

Most will tell you that links from Yahoo! and DMOZ are really important, and to a certain (minimal) extent, I agree.  Who wouldn't want to be listed with two of the most widely known directories in the world? It's what marketers do along with and after they get the Yahoo and DMOZ links that can make or break them.  It's also possible to obtain a position one ranking without having links from either Yahoo or DMOZ.

Pursuing links just for Pagerank and Link Popularity in the major search engines is not going to go away, as much as I wish it would. And by trying to impact Pagerank artificially, Pagerank as it is determined now is doomed.  Whether that happens in 2005 or 2010 I don't know, but once thousands of sites are after links for reasons other than relevancy, no link can be trusted enough to reward it, right?

Aside from the ethics of link building, pagerank, etc. let's discuss sites and search engines dedicated to niche topics.  Niche and topical search engines and directories can bring your site highly targeted traffic.  Maybe not a stampede of it, but a steady trickle of perfectly qualified users. And while some marketers are quick to claim nobody uses niche search engines because they've never heard of them, I can tell you from ten years of experience they're wrong.

It probably wouldn't surprise you to find out there are search engines devoted to popular topics like Financial web sites or even NASCAR. But for proof that search engines are sublimely vertical, look no further than AquariaCentral or ElvisFind. Yes, ElvisFind, a search engine and directory that only indexes content about Elvis Presley. At the time of this writing ElvisFind contained several hundred Elvis related web sites in a variety of categories. Obviously, if your site doesn't have content about Elvis Presley, you have no reason to submit your site to their editors.  But if your site sells vacation packages to Memphis and has a "Spend the day at Graceland" package, well, suddenly ElvisFind makes a lot more sense.

Some specialty search engines focus on more than just a specific topic. PDF Search Engines is a simple search tool for finding ebooks, powerpoint files, even excel documents.  One nice aspect about specialty search engines is they typically don't charge for links (although a few have started charging), and better still I've noticed they add links and index sites far quicker than most of their bigger brethren.  There isn't a sandbox at ElvisFind...

While there are hundreds of specialty search engines available, it can be hard to find the best ones in any particular subject area.  I'll included some of the tools I use below.  Once you find a specialty search engine, the link request or site submission process is usually fairly straightforward.  Look for the "add your site" link and follow their directions.  Options may even be available for paid links or sponsored links.

Here are some online tools you can use to find specialty search engines. 

Danny Sullivans' List of Directories and Search Engine's by Topic
Open Directory Specialized Search Engines Category

Link wisely,


About the Author
Eric Ward founded the Web's first services for announcing, linking, and building buzz for Web sites, back in 1994. Ward is best known as the person behind the linking campaigns for Books,, The Link Exchange, Rodney Dangerfield (, the AMA, and His services won the 1995 Award for Internet Marketing Excellence, and he was selected as one of the Web's 100 most influential people by Websight magazine. In 2009 Eric was one of 25 people profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes. Eric has spoken at over 100 industry conferences and now publishes LinkMoses Private, a subscription based link opportunity and strategy service. Eric has written linking strategy and advice columns for SearchEngineLand, MarketingProfs, ClickZ, Search Marketing Standard, SearchEngineGuide, Web Marketing Today, and Ad Age magazine. Learn more about Eric and his content publicity and link building services at

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