Meta-indexes are lists of Internet resources pertaining to a specific subject category and are intended as a resource for people who have a specific interest in that topic. These lists consist of a collection of URLs of related Internet resources and are arranged on a Web page by their titles. The owners or creators of meta-indexes put a lot of effort into compiling these lists and are eager to find new sites to add to them. They often will list your site for free because they desire to have the most meta of the meta-indexes—they strive to have the largest of the large indexes, and more sites means a larger index. So if you come across a meta-index that is associated with the topic of your site, feel free to ask to be included.

Meta-indexes are directed at a specific topic, such as “Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfasts” or “Professional Speakers Online.” Meta-indexes provide easy access to a number of sites on a specific topic, and they are a great way to draw targeted, interested people to your Web site. In addition, some users may rely on meta-indexes as their only search effort. They may not use a search engine to perform a query on Caribbean resorts, for example, if they know a certain meta-index contains 200 sites on Caribbean resorts. Where search engine results may show books on Caribbean resorts, personal Web pages relating to family vacations at Caribbean resorts, etc., experienced Web users know that meta-indexes will only provide links to the Web sites of Caribbean resorts. Meta-indexes can increase your chances of being found by people who are interested in what you have to offer. 

You may want to consider placing a banner ad on one or some of the meta-indexes you find, given that the target audience you want to reach will be the people using these indexes. Choose carefully, though; you don’t want to buy a banner ad on a meta-index that is not up to par and doesn’t provide you with the traffic are looking for. Take your time and investigate the meta-index before advertising on it. Does it appeal to the eye? Is it of good quality? Are there a lot of dead links? Is it updated frequently? Does it have sufficient traffic?

Meta-indexes can  be a great way to increase traffic to your Web site. Word spreads quickly on great meta-indexes because they are a great resource. Your target market will tell two friends and they will tell two friends thus increasing traffic. In addition more people will be adding links to your meta-index and the more links you have to your Web site the more traffic your site will get.

1. Tips

Some of these meta-indexes have a “Submit” or “Add your site” area; for others, you have to develop an inclusion request e-mail and send it to the owner of the site. Even if you are not sure if your site will be accepted by a certain meta-index, send a request anyway. Meta-lists draw more traffic when they provide more resources to their readers, so list owners may be fairly lenient on what’s acceptable and what’s not.

When requesting a link to your site, send an e-mail with “site addition request” in the subject area of your message. Include the following in the body of the message:

  • URL

  • Description of your site

  • Why you feel your site is appropriate for the list

  • Your contact information in your signature file 

To make your link stand out among the many others listed, inquire about adding a prominent link or icon to the meta-index page along with a short tag line, in addition to your company name. If you provide the GIF and the HTML, the meta-index owner may be happy to include it.

Once you have identified indexes that appeal to your target market, determine whether additional opportunities might exist for sponsoring or purchasing banner advertising on the site. Meta-indexes that relate to your market are a great place to advertise because they are accessed by your target customers. In addition meta-indexes are a great place to search for other potential reciprocal links.

Keep in mind that the compilers of meta-indexes are motivated by non-commercial reasons and are under no obligation to add your site to their list or process your request quickly. However, because of the banner-advertising revenue potential, more and more meta-index sites have a commercial focus.

In addition to “free” meta-index listings, there are also those that charge a fee. While the listing may be free there may be a fee charged for placing a hypertext link within the listing. If you are considering paying a fee to be included in a meta-index consider the volume of traffic the meta-index receives, whether the traffic is targeted and the cost involved in relation to the return on investment. It may be wise to contact those already listed in the meta-index to see if the listing has been a good investment for them.


2. Tools  

Essential Links: Portal to the Internet
Essential links to the Internet and the World Wide Web—Essential Links is a portal to the Internet portal sites, news headlines, search engines, Web directories, references, and utilities.

Internet Resources Meta-Index
A meta-index of the various resource directories and indexes available on the Internet.

The Webmaster’s Ultimate Resource - A meta-index of the directories and essential sites.

Virtual Library
The Virtual Library is the oldest catalog of the Web, started by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the Web itself. Unlike commercial catalogs, it is run by a loose confederation of volunteers, who compile pages of key links for particular areas in which they are experts. Even though it isn’t the biggest index of the Web, the Virtual Library pages are widely recognized as being among the highest-quality guides to particular sections of the Web.

WWW Meta-Indexes and Search Tools
A Library of Congress Internet resource page.

3. Techniques

Now that you know what a meta-index is, how do you find one? You might be browsing on the Web and happen to come across one. A better way to find meta-indexes is through the search engines and directories on the Web.

You need to know how your particular search engine of choice works. Most search engines have advanced search capabilities so be sure to explore them. When you’re looking for meta-indexes, we recommend you take your most important keyword and add an extra word such as “directory,” “meta-index” or “list". By adding one of these words in conjunction with another word—for example, “travel” or "speaker" (or whatever your most important keyword is) —you’re increasing your chances of finding appropriate meta-indexes. Performing a search on “travel” alone will return far less-targeted results. Looking for a travel directory alone may not work for you. Why not? A search for a travel directory on the search engines often means looking for all sites that contain the words “travel” and all sites that contain “directory.” You should refine your searches to achieve more accurate results. Some general techniques using the words “travel” and “directory” as examples you can apply in your search for meta-indexes are

  • Entering travel directory generally means: Look for all sites containing the words “travel” or “directory,” but try to gather those sites with “travel” and “directory” together.

  • Entering “travel directory” (with quotation marks) often means: Look for all sites containing the words “travel” and “directory” next to each other.

  • Entering +travel directory generally means: Find all sites with the word “travel” and preferably the word “directory” as well.

  • Entering +travel+directory generally means: Find all sites with both words.

Search engines look for information in different ways and allow different techniques to be applied in order to narrow or broaden the search criteria. This information can be obtained by looking at the respective search engine’s help page.Many search engines and directories have or give you the option to use an “advanced” search or search “options” page that presents you with the ability to perform more detailed searches without using the parameters outlined above.

4. Resources

I have included a couple examples of meta-indexes to check out. Travel and Tourism Meta-Index

Hotels and Travel on the Net

Bed and Breakfast Inns Online


Visit my Web site at