Welcome back to another exciting installment of how to run a successful link building campaign. Last week I talked about link modifications, this week we are moving on to directories. This one may bring in some debates (I am hoping :) ) as some SEO’s consider this to be a waste of time… we will get into that later. So let’s begin this always controversial discussion off with some questions people may have about directories:

  • What is a directory?
    • A directory is a website that is broken down into category pages. These pages have links to other websites that relate to that specific category. Sometimes these categories are broken into two or three subcategories.
  • Are Directories Good for SEO?
    • Yes and no is the best answer I can give, meaning a directory won’t necessarily hurt you but some may not pass much, if any value to you. So while you will get a link from the directory it may not be as valuable as you think.
  • How do you tell a good directory over a bad directory?
    • Similar to how you tell if a website is good or bad. You need to look at a number of factors when deciding if a directory is good:
      • Does the Directory have page rank?
        • While I don’t feel that page rank is the end all of determining if a site is good or not it is a good initial indicator as to if a directory is good. I myself make sure at least the home page has PR, because with the high number of categories some directories have, page rank may not flow to all of them. My best suggestion is to make sure the home pages has at least a PR of 1.
      • Is the category page your site will be listed on cached?
        • This in my opinion is more important than page rank. Only because if the page is not cached then obviously the search engines are not reaching it and thus rendering your link worthless. What good is a link if the search engines are not going to spot it?
        • If the Category has multiple pages on it be sure to go through EACH page and check to make sure they are all cached, you do not know which page your site will be listed on so make sure you check them all.
      • Does the directory have a category specific to my site?
        • You want to try and make sure you get into a category specific to what your site is about. While a general category will fit any site, if you can find a specific category that fits your specific site, it will carry more weight in the long run.
      • What kinds of other sites are listed in the category I want to be placed in?
        • Now this is more of a personal type of thing. While I’m not super picky about it, I know some people are. Check to see what other sites are listed in that category. Remember that if a directory(or anywhere for that matter) links to a spam site the search engines think the site containing the outbound link is spam as well thus not passing any value to you.
    • Some will have more some may have less, these are some of the factors I look at when I am doing directory research.
  • Is DMOZ worth going for – it takes so long to get accepted
    • Yes it can take a long time to get accepted into DMOZ but if you get in, it will help. DMOZ is one of the best directories out there. The best thing to do is submit it, leave it, and hope eventually you get in. I have found submitting multiple times does not help, but that is up to you.
  • Is Yahoo! worth the $200 price tag?
    • If you have $200 in your linking budget I strongly suggest getting a yahoo listing. While it is expensive, from what I have seen in the past it passes the most value for a directory.
  • I don’t see the directory in the search engines, does this make it bad?
    • Yes, if you can’t find the directory listed in Google/Yahoo/Bing then there is a good chance that the directory has been labeled as spam and you should move along. Google a couple years ago went in and killed many directories that did not fit what they felt were basic requirements for a useful directory. Just be wary and keep an eye out for this.

Now there are many SEO’s out there that will fight you to the death, saying that getting a directory listing is worthless and a waste of your time. While I agree to some extent, if you are picky with the directories you choose, you will see some benefit. If you follow just some of the suggestions I listed above you will see some of this benefit. The best advice I can give is to just be picky, if a directory doesn’t feel good to you then it probably isn’t good. Go with what your gut tells you.

That about wraps up this discussion about directories, I would LOVE to hear from all of you about how you feel on this. I know many SEO’s don’t even bother with directories anymore and I would love to hear your specific arguments on this. Look out next week for my post on blog comments and forum linking.