Directory Listings Still Relevant to SEO & Marketing
As the link building and SEO schools of thought seem to be moving a bit too rapidly away from traditional onsite content and anchored text, Pankaj Gupta poses a question which may lead to a bit of a slowdown in the community to still gives props to old school linking techniques and extend the lifeforce of the directory; “Is Directory Submission Obsolete?”
Pankaj’s opinion is that directory linking is not a thing of the past, although the intended end result of achieving PageRank via such submittals may be:
Many people think that directories have become obsolete. The truth however is that while their SEO importance has decreased in the last few years, they should still be an integral part of link building for new sites.
Indeed, a trusted directory which is experiencing usage is more likely to send a site targeted traffic via a directory link, and now with enhanced search algorithms looking at the intent of the click and the chance that that user is going to find relevant information on your site : “As search engines analyze user data and integrate this information into their algorithm, the traffic you receive from a link becomes paramount again. The point is, if you can get relevant traffic from a directory listing, then it’s still a viable marketing channel.”
Furthermore, Pankaj points to the Holy Testament of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines which preaches the gospel “Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites.”
From Pankaj :
This implies that Google believes links from the two mentioned directories are indeed editorial votes of quality. These “trusted links” are the type a site needs to both break out of “the sandbox”, and to rank highly in the current (hard to crack) Google.
So, if the average webmaster wants to go beyond the obvious two directory choices of DMOZ and Yahoo as part of their link building initiative, where else should they submit? What is safe? Try these:
And others including :
Pankaj lends some insight to the more popular trusted directories on the market and also lends these words of wisdom;
“there are a few others on the “top tier”, but beware of any that sell sitewide links, as that practice all but ensures that Google won’t trust the directory’s editorial integrity.
What about the rest? Submitting to lower quality directories may not propel your site to the top of Google, but my recent research suggests it is still a very efficient link building method to build rankings in both MSN and Yahoo!. ”
Besides red flags like sitewide links in questionable directories, before submitting your site also look at the quality of the other sites listed in random and popular categories. If expired sites, site maps, spammy sites or ‘made for AdSense’ pages are listed – it’s best to blacklist such directories from your link building marketing plan.
More link building knowledge from some of the most talked about link marketers online:
Andy Hagans : Pankaj, did you say… “trust”… and “directory” in the same article? That’s a heck of a shock after two years where everyone and their brother hated on directories (often with good reason, I admit… but my point is, not all are the same).
Which is why when Mr. Cutts uses the phrase “strong” to describe “links from Yahoo’s directory and Dmoz” I’m not surprised. And it’s why I’ll continue to give my money to Yahoo!, JoeAnt, Gimpsy, MSN bCentral, Business.com and Best of the Web (since 1994! dang, that’s trust). They all have legitimate editorial processes. They almost certainly have “trust”.
And via some very experienced directory owners….
John Scott : Folks do submit to web directories for the sole purpose of improving their search engine rankings. And if that is your motivation, don’t be looking at the PageRank. Don’t be looking at inbound links. Don’t even look at how many pages the directory has in Google’s index. Look at the footer. Do you see site wide links to pharm & debt consolidation sites? If so, move on.
Do a couple searches, see what kind of sites the web directory lists. If it lists crap sites, move on. There are a couple searches I do on every web directory I visit, and if those searches result in any listings being returned, I move on. You’ll have to figure out your own sample searches, but the point here is trust. Search engines like Google will place more weight on your listing if it’s on a page they trust. If the web directory is not trustworthy, all the inbound links in the world won’t change that.
Bruce Stone (via a comment on Andy’s LinkBuildingBlog which is cited above) : I’ve been battling what I considered a rumor that all directory links are devalued for over a year. They are not and never have been, at least on any long established directories I’m affiliated with. It’s been my opinion that they offer a trusted targeted link. The search engines have over doubled the volume of cached pages and the bandwidth used to get them and the organic search traffic has never been as high. What the long established directory operators have been seeing is just the opposite of the SEO community opinions. Using utilities like Google site maps we can offer better service to the webmaster then we have ever been able to do in the past.
So, the moral of the story is yes, Digg, del.icio.us popular, linkbaiting and tags are going to work to build traffic & organic links to your site, along with some long term early adapting 2.0 definition which will help in the long run especially as algoithms bend and swirve to accompany such useful measures of site worth.
But do not forget about the old school proven and trusted directories and other link building methods in search optimization which are infact some very durable blocks of the foundation of Internet marketing – plus, they’ll send you some long term & relevant traffic (which is what you want to link for anyway).