Google’s spokespeople have suggested that linking should be natural and not manipulated. I will also concede that it is probably true that if I build a remarkably wonderful site, people will eventually find it, and some of them might link to it. But what if I’m not capable of building the best damned site on the Internet? What if I don’t want to wait for people to find it? What if I don’t believe that all I have to do is build it, and they will come?
The fact is that even if I’m not selling anything from my site, I want people to find it, and I don’t want to wait years for that to happen. Further, I expect that many of you will agree. If link building seems like too hard of a term for you, perhaps it will help to think of it as marketing. Whatever the quality of our product, if it isn’t marketed, it’s probably not going to be successful. On the Internet, the road signs are links. They are the things that lead people to your site. Certainly, we should build the best damned site that we can but when we have done that, we need to market it.
With Google’s algorithm getting smarter every year, we need to be smarter in building backlinks for our website as well. The old ways of backlink building will not work as well with the current search engine algorithm, and could have negative consequences. Currently, Google is placing more emphasis on quality rather than quantity, since they want their users to get the best results for each search term that they type into the Google search box. While quality is better than quantity, it doesn’t necessarily follow that quantity doesn’t matter. One quality link is probably not going to drive much traffic to our site, or help our site to place better in the search engine results. Thus, we need to be able to plan a better strategy to conduct a directory submission campaign, and web directories can be a part of it. Here are some rules that we might follow in the web directory submission portion of our link building campaign.
- Use Higher Quality Directories — The Internet is cluttered with low quality directories. As might be expected, these directories are rated poorly by the search engines. Although Google no longer updates its PageRank, we can be sure that they are utilizing an internal ranking system. When we submit our site to these junk directories, our site may itself be negatively affected. For this reason, it is important that we look for higher quality directories for our site listings. Higher quality directories equate to a better ranking for our websites in the search engines, since by associating our websites with higher quality directories, our sites will appear to be more valuable in the eyes of the search engines, and will rank higher.
- Use Relevant Directories — For instance, if we are running a local community service in your website, or advertising a brick-and-mortar business, we can submit our site to local rather than general web directories. This is to ensure that the directories that we are submitting our site to are relevant to the topic of the site. Relevancy matters, and so does diversity. If it is possible to diversify the types of directories that we can use, we should do it. For example, sites representing brick-and-mortar businesses can be submitted to local directories, regional directories, to niche directories relevant to the type of store or product, and to relevant categories of general directories. General web directories are always an option, but we should submit our site to the most relevant category. Listings in directories or categories that are not relevant to the topic of our site will be a waste of time and money, as they will be viewed as spam links by the search engine algorithm.
- Avoid Shady Web Directories — We should check to see that the directories that we are submitting our site to host high quality sites. Rather than looking at the traffic or the SEO metrics for a directory, we should be looking at the quality of the tenant sites that are listed in these directories. If listed, will our site be listed with other good quality sites, or will it be listed with a bunch of junk? This is important because we don’t want to associate our site with the bad neighborhoods of the Internet. We should avoid submitting our site to directories that will list anything that is submitted to them. If they don’t demand quality, they won’t be of good quality. Remember that.
- Choose Wisely — With the multitude of bad websites that are posing as directories, we have to be very picky in choosing the directories that we want to submit our site to. We shouldn’t trust every link that we come across, and we shouldn’t believe everything that we read. Before submitting our site to a directory, we need to investigate it. We need to make sure that the directory is well organized, that it demands quality, and that it enjoys a good reputation among search engines and users.
- Don’t Use Automated Submission Tools — Avoid automated submission tools like the plague. These are spam link building tools that will destroy any chance that we have of building authority for our site. Directory submission is not about building as many links as we can; it is about building high quality back-links that will serve as a long-term investment that can improve the value of our site over time. Keep in mind, also, that most web submission services will use automated submission tools, and this includes some of those that advertise otherwise. Submitting a site to a web directory is not difficult, and we don’t want to submit our site to too many directories at once, anyhow.
Our directory submission campaign should concentrate on finding higher quality directories, which will require the ability to tell the good ones apart from the bad ones. While we shouldn’t believe everything we read, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t read. Web Directory Reviews is a valuable resource, as it has looked closely at several major directories. We should, of course, make up our own minds, but the Web Directory Reviews site can help to cut the research time. Others include this publication, as well as Web Directory Forum, where questions may be asked and answered.