Optimizing for Vortals

Optimizing for Vortals

by David Dimas

Vortals, otherwise known as vertical portals, are industry- topic, or region-specific gateways to online information. Unlike regular Search Engines and directories, vortals focus on a specific area, and thus generally have more information than general-interest directories such as Yahoo! and LookSmart.

Vortals are poised to become the third area of Search Engine optimization, along with spidering Search Engines and human- edited directories. They’re already generating traffic to many Web sites. According to a Forrester Research study, vertical portals and well-affiliated sites will capture 57% of online ad spending by 2004.


Before optimizing for vortals, you need to understand how they are created. Vortals come in two flavors: human-edited and automatically generated. Human-edited vortals are compiled by people knowledgeable in a certain area. These vortals are usually comprehensive and high in quality, but they are also high in cost.

On the other hand, a company that wants to build vortals can purchase software that streamlines the process with the use of special algorithms and editorial tools. Quiver.com is one company that provides vortal development solutions. “Quiver technology automates the process of building deep directories without much human power needed. It’s Yahoo-like with one or two people,” says Scott Potter, Quiver’s CEO.


Just as you need to adopt different strategies when optimizing for directories or Search Engines, you need different strategies when optimizing for different types of vortals. Human-edited vortals usually look for the same qualities that Yahoo does when evaluating a site: good design, quality content, and an appropriate category. Before you even consider submitting your site to vortals, you should ensure that it’s high-quality.

Vortals generated with the help of automated software are usually of a lower quality than their human-edited counterparts. However, such vortals are cheaper to create and maintain, an important factor for online businesses.

Software packages exist that generate links for vortals using a completely automated process. Such programs usually crawl the Web looking for a specific “theme” on various pages. Once a Web site exhibiting this theme is discovered, that Web site will be added to the vortal.


When it comes to vortals, the chances that you will be found without submitting decrease significantly. Thus, you should make vortals a part of your submission campaign.

Once you find vortals in your industry you should figure out how you can be listed. If a vortal accepts only paid submissions don’t forget to evaluate cost, membership requirements, and site demographics before signing up.

Once you’ve decided to submit to a vortal, the process is very similar to Search Engine and directory submissions. You will need to find an appropriate category and provide your site’s URL and a brief description. Try to get listed in a few vortals in your industry to see if the generated traffic is worth more effort.

Reproduced with permission from David Dimas, WebPositionAdvisor.com