While junk web directories have the potential for being bad for search engine optimization, there are also high quality web directories that offer a great deal of value, for directory users and website owners alike.
A web directory can offer a unique perspective of an industry or a city or town. In the case of niche directories, the insight gleaned from working inside of a certain industry, or from residing at the location for many years, can result in a product that offers a great deal to site visitors and, as a consequence, to those whose sites are listed in these directories. The more emphasis that is placed on this unique perspective, the more of a unique selling point that a directory can offer to listed businesses and the visitors to the site. A well organized general directory can provide much the same thing when directory editors properly research the content added to specific categories, or when editors are assigned to categories matching their own areas of expertise.
Every site listed in a well-maintained directory will have been visited by the directory staff, and added only if there is reason to believe that the site adds value to the directory and something useful to its visitors. Sites submitted to a reputable directory will be accepted only when it meets the standards established by the directory.
Older, more traditional directories may not have this capability, but many newer directories are designed in such a way that visitors can interact with the listings. Being able to add customer reviews to a business listing is an excellent way of letting visitors have a voice, although the reviews should be moderated before displaying on the page. These customer reviews should complement the site’s own review of each business listing which itself needs to be accurate, informative and written in an honest way rather than a description supplied by the business itself. Some web directories even allow users to post their own reviews or comments.
News and Information
Current news for business listings and the industry or area can provide a fresh look to a web directory. It can make the site appear modern, regularly updated and relevant to visitors that Google, Bing and Yahoo may refer. An entry into Google news might also be appreciated. Some directories now include category descriptions that are rich in content and uniquely authored, as well as articles on topics related to directory categories. The idea behind this is that people who have navigated to a category of the directory can be expected to have an interest in the topic represented in that category, so why not offer useful information as well as links to sites where additional information can be found? Of secondary importance, this textual content may also be indexed by the search engines, enhancing the value of the page for the directory owner as well as the businesses whose sites are listed there. In short, it can be good for SEO.
Above all, a web directory has to ask, “Why us?” Why would someone choose to visit this particular website? What does this directory offer that cannot be found just as easily elsewhere? What sets this directory apart from all the others? How does the current site help visitors accomplish their goals and objectives? In other words, why might someone use this particular web directory rather than simply entering a search term into a search engine like Google?
What Would Visitors Like To See?
If you are running a web directory, ask yourself what visitors would like to see? Determine what features might help someone to understand the industry, the topic, or the region represented by a specific category better, and consider how you might be able to provide that? If all you can offer, in a web directory, is links to other websites, then what are you bringing to the party? When a directory user visits a category, he or she is faced with a number of outgoing site listings that he has to choose between, and a well written, unique, and fully descriptive site description will make that decision easier.
Going Full Circle With SEO
The point with SEO now is to include quality, relevant links from respected sources rather than thousands of links that are mostly from low-quality sources or from spam that has been submitted to your directory. The former gets respect from visitors to your directory, and can have an impact on the placement of a site in search engine results, but the latter no longer does.
An effective web directory can be valuable to the businesses and organization that are listed there only if the web directory itself is valuable in its own right. That value also has to be clearly visible to the visitor in a matter of a few seconds during the first visit. When your directory is valuable to the people who us it, you can expect that it will be respected by Google and other search engines as well.
A more focused directory ensures that there is the time or resources to go deeper into an industry or location in order to deliver real value rather than just skimming the surface with information obviously scraped from other directories. A frequently updated site, with new listings and expanding resources for the existing business listings, delivers increasing value to its visitors. Visitors may click through from a business listing to the business web site, but they first need to be attracted by what the web directory has to offer, and that may include resources other than outgoing site listings.
The same is true of Google, and other search engines. Frequently updated, unique content will bring the search engine spiders back, resulting in each of the directory’s pages being indexed, which in turn increases the value of a listing to the site owner, which is good for SEO. When a directory operator concentrates on quality content, he has little to fear from future Google updates and other problems that plague those who skirt the edges of quality and that which is not of good quality. If you are a website owner, remember that a good web directory can be a good friend to your site’s marketing plans, so choose your friends wisely.
- See also, Web Directories Can Be Bad For SEO