There was a time when all you had to do to boost your site’s ranking was to submit it to a bunch of directories and wait for the link juice to kick in. But Google has since made it very clear that they will be taking steps to reduce the value of spammy links. As a result, several low quality directories lost their PageRank, at a time when Google was still updating its public PageRank.
Spammy links are pretty much any linking method that is considered manipulative by Google, and submissions to low quality directories are among them. But how can you tell which directories are good and which ones are a waste of time? Even when Google was regularly updating its public PageRank, only a small percentage of low quality directories were punished by a loss of PageRank, and now that the search engine is no longer updating its public PageRank, we don’t even have that to go by.
In this short article, I am going to discuss five signs of a web directory that isn’t worth submitting your site to.
- Too easy — Genuine directories take their submission process very seriously because they are in the business of selling valuable information. Bad directories, on the other hand, are all about selling links, and there’s a huge difference. In a reputable directory, submitted sites go through a review process before accepting a submitted site, and listing it in their directory. Each site is manually checked by a directory staff member, who looks to see that the site meets the directory’s quality standards. So, if all that it takes in order for your site to be accepted into the directory is the payment of a fee, then it’s probably not worth submitting your site. A guaranteed inclusion leads to poor quality control. Given this criteria, the submission fee itself can be seen as a sign of quality since it raises the bar for inclusion.
- Emphasis on SEO value — Good directories are about information, not link juice. If the directory you’re thinking of submitting your site to places more emphasis on the directory’s SEO value than on the quality of the directory, this could be a sign of a problem. A directory that brags about its PageRank is one that is begging Google to penalize it.
- General in scope — Ideally, your site should be listed on a page that is specific to your site’s topic. General directories that are not very well developed may have a category structure that doesn’t extend deeply enough to cover the topic of your site. In other words, if your company manufactures and sells blue widgets, your site should be listed on a page with other sites that discuss blue widgets, or at least widgets. If the closest you can get is a general business category, the link won’t pass the relevancy test. Don’t submit your site to a general directory that is too general, meaning that it doesn’t include a category that is relevant to the topic of your site. Niche directories relating to your topic are great.
- Geared to webmasters — The chief goal of any directory should be to serve its users, not webmasters. While submission fees may pay the operation costs of a web directory, when the focus of the directory’s organization, guidelines, and advertising is on the webmaster rather than users of the directory, then the directory is really just selling links.
- Bad neighborhood — Once you have determined which category would be the most appropriate for your site’s topic, take a look at the other sites that are listed there, and in the directory as a whole. While every directory will contain sites of varying levels of quality, even some poor ones, junk directories attract spam and low quality sites. Is the directory well organized, using proper spelling and grammar, or is it full of illiteracy, spam keywords, and promotional hype? If your site were to be listed on an appropriate page in this directory, would it be in a good neighborhood or a bad one?
Okay, I’ll give you a bonus. You’ll come across a lot of web directories that don’t have any content, and which consist mostly of empty categories. Sure, it is entirely possible that it is a brand new directory whose owner intends to add content at some point in the future; still, until content is added, the directory sucks. More than ninety percent of the sites listed in a reputable directory have been added by directory staff, not through submissions.
So before you decide you submit to a directory, make sure that it is reputable and in the business of serving its users first. There are several reputable general and niche directories that would make good homes for a link to your web site, but most of the directories out there are completely useless. If you truly care about your site’s ranking, make sure to give due diligence before you submit to any web directory. When it comes to links, quality and relevancy are more important than quantity.