Directories have been given a bad name for a quite a few years now. And the recent Matt Cutts announcement about link building risks, as well as the constant news of directories being shut down by Google, hasn’t helped.
All of the buzz surrounding directories lately has surely scared off quite a few companies from ever using a directory again. Unfortunately, this mentality is causing many to miss out on all of the great opportunities that directories can still offer. You don’t have to be scared; you just have to be smart.
How to find a quality directory to help your SEO efforts
Directories are easy ways to improve your SEO by building links, but even more so because they help you get your company name out there in front of a targeted audience. The key is finding quality directories in your niche. CEO of WidgetWare Myles Golden wrote an article that claimed that directory links are dead; now it’s about niche directories, and I think this mentality is spot-on.
In most cases, these directories will be paid, but this should, in theory, be the only aspect of link building that will cost you anything. Of course, just because a directory is paid does not mean it is quality. There are several different things you need to do to find a quality directory in your industry so that you don’t fall into the all-too-common directory trap:
- Look for directories with a Page Authority of 25 or higher. This shouldn’t be your only factor for assessing a site, but it’s a good start.
- Consider downloading SEOquake and then sorting directories by links or indexed pages by clicking the “?” in the SEOquake bar.
- Dave Davies, CEO of Beanstalk SEO Services, actually recommends searching for more general terms first and then using your browser’s “Find” function to search for the word directory. This will help you narrow down results that maybe don’t rank for the term “directory,” which is a good thing.
- Never give a reciprocal link! This shouldn’t be required from a good directory.
- Extra Tip: A niche directory should be more than just links. When evaluating a site, look to see if there are images and other content that helps educate people about your particular industry. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s a definite good sign you’re visiting something of quality.
When you do find a good niche directory, consider submitting articles or posting in any comments or forums to really get yourself involved beyond just one link back to your company. You’ll most likely have a profile; so the more active you are the better your company looks to those visiting the directory.
It’s hard to recommend directories because they need to be specific to your niche (and there are so many niches out there), but there are a few general directories that have a reputation as being safe including Yahoo, DMOZ and BOTW (Best of the Web).
These directories are really more for link juice and a credibility boost, so I wouldn’t expect to get a lot of traffic from any of the directories listed above. Work on finding niche-specific directories first, and then consider getting involved with one of the above three assuming they’re still in good standings with Google (that can change at any time!).
Let us know your thoughts on directories and how they should be used correctly in the comments below. Do you think it’s best to just avoid them altogether because they may be penalized in the future, or do you think we’ll be able to keep some quality options on the web?
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO agency that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country. Her last article for SEMrush was "3 YouTube Success Strategies Your Company Isn’t Using."