The SEO Value of Directory Links

September 5, 2012

Over at Search Engine Watch, David Harry has written an incisive post, asking “are directory links still worth doing?” We strongly recommend you read David’s post; it will give you a better understanding of how SEOs are looking at link building in the Post Penguin world.

David makes several great points about the danger in generating low-quality directory links to your website month after month. However, David hits on a key point that we really want to expand upon.

You didn’t already figure it out, it’s going to depend. I don’t have the answers, no one does. But I am personally extremely leery of them at this point and really wouldn’t recommend them to a client. At least not the mass submission programs of yesteryear. Get with the times.

Ok, we completely agree that the “mass submissions programs of yesteryear” are going to hurt more than help over the lifetime of your campaign. But there seems to be a misunderstanding of what constitutes a directory link.

Too many SEOs are using the term “directory link” as a sort of shorthand for “dangerous, irrelevant link in a bad neighborhood that’s going to get you in trouble.” And we understand why this has happened. For years, link building services relied on mass submissions to link directories that served no real purpose to any users.

That being said, directory links are not the problem. The problem is generating lots of bad links. If you think about it directories remain one of the most powerful ways to get your business found in an organic way. This is why Google has placed so much value on directory links over the years. Due to Penguin, Google is now better able to identify quality directories and vacant directories that exist solely to produce backlinks.

The SEO Value of Directory Links

Let’s use an example. Say your business is an Assisted Living Home or Senior Care Home. It would make a lot of sense to get your business listed in the top directories for your industry. Your ideal client is using Always Best Care, A Place for Mom, AssistedLiving.org and Caring.com to find quality facilities. It makes sense to submit your business to all of your industry directories, as well as provide optimized information so that prospective clients can find information that will help them make an informed decision.

Also, there are the more popular directories that appeal to many markets, such Yelp, LinkedIn, Merchant Circle, City Search, Google+ Local, Bing Local, and many more. Creating a quality profile in these directories shows Google that your business is providing valuable and relevant information to your users. And thus, you will be rewarded with higher rankings in the SERPs.

This is why there will always be tremendous SEO value found in directory links.

Which Directories Are Worth Targeting?

Really, it’s not a question of will directories provide SEO value, but rather which ones will. This is the most important question.

Of all the directories to target, you want to identify the ones that are related to your industry. You need to ask yourself, “will this listing provide real value to my target audience?” If the answer is yes, then you should submit your business and generate a directory link. In the process, you will be doing exactly what Google wants: contributing quality content to your community.

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