While participating in discussions in various webmaster forums, including our own SEO forums, I have voiced my opinion on the value of directory links. The debate is about how valuable directory links are since Google cracked down on buying links for the purpose of inflating a website’s link popularity.
So, is it even worth the time to submit to directories anymore? Can directory links now hurt search engine rankings? I still submit to directories, and I am certain that directory links still hold value. My strategy for finding directories involves considering a couple different factors before submitting.
When I come across a directory, I look at the overall design of the directory. If the directory has a poor design that looks as if very little effort went into it, I move on to another directory. If the design looks good, I look at the PR value of the directory. Not to find one with high PR, but rather to make sure that it isn’t showing as “unranked”. Then I look at how many pages the directory has indexed in Google. If it has very few pages indexed in Google and a high PR value, it is typically one of two things. Either, it was created on a previously owned domain that had page rank, or it could have page rank being redirected to it from another domain. For both of those situations I leave that directory and move on. If I find that the directory has plenty of pages indexed and has a good look and design, I find the most relevant category and submit my site.
Directory links hold value for a few different reasons. Many directories give you the option of customizing the anchor text of the link pointing to your site. This allows the person submitting to include keywords in the anchor text of the link. Many directories will allow deep links. This gives the website owner the option of linking to internal pages of their site. Some major directories get a good amount of traffic and can drive some additional traffic to their listed sites. Industry targeted directories are great for relevance and can potentially drive extra traffic to your site.
I don’t think directory links can hurt site rankings, but there are a couple things I wouldn’t do when submitting to directories. I wouldn’t submit to any directory site that is poorly organized, or looks like just a big long list of links. There should be plenty of different categories and sub-categories. Also, pages should have a limited number of links on them. I wouldn’t pay for any “footer type” site wide links on directories or any other sites. With the recent crack down on buying links, that is just asking for trouble.
So don’t stop submitting to directories. They have value and are always great for a low budget marketing campaign. Remember to evaluate the quality of the directory before submitting, and don’t forget to have fun.