Directories may seem like a thing of the past, but in today’s SEO world, some directories still hold value.
Directories once served a significant purpose – they helped websites get found by those who were looking for them, and they helped those searching to find what they were looking for. Today, they are still a useful way of driving traffic to your site and building trust with your audience.
What are directories in SEO
In the early days of the internet (pre-google), web directories were a very useful way for people to find relevant websites. Fun fact for you – Yahoo didn’t start life as a search engine, it started life as a directory.
And directories served a purpose – they helped websites get found by those who were looking for them, and they helped those searching to find what they were looking for.
But then came google, and directories became, well, redundant. In the early days of google a popular strategy (for website owners) to boost their link building efforts for SEO purposes was to submit their website to as many directories as possible in order to take advantage of all the positive link juice that flowed their way.
Until google’s algorithm stopped rewarding websites for doing this (yup, at one stage Google actively encouraged website owners to do this SEO link building practice). Eventually Google realised that submitting website URLs to directories wasn’t helping the end user and so they began penalising website owners who had spammed directories with their website to take advantage of all the links.
Will directories help or hurt SEO?
So now that we know that Google doesn’t use directories to help rank websites, what is the point of submitting your website URL to a directory? Well, yes, it won’t help your website in the overall SERP. however, if you’ve submitted your website URL to a directory that is relevant to your business, then it can only help your SEO efforts.
Hear us out.
Having your cafe website listed in a directory for cafes in your local area can only help drive traffic to you. Because whilst Google may not place value on the directories, some users still use them. And if you aren’t listed when your customers come looking, how will they find you?
If however you submit your cafe website URL to a directory that specialises in plumbing hardware stores, then yes, that won’t do you any favours and could garner you a penalty from Google. So approach directory listings the same way you approach any link building efforts – and that is with caution.
If you think the backlink will be useful and relevant then include it. If it later turns out to be spammy you can always disavow it. So just pay attention to where you’re backlinks are coming from and you won’t go too far wrong.
Do we need directories for SEO?
Google ranks websites based on hundreds of different factors, and whilst we will probably never know what they all are, we can hazard a guess at some of them. And a couple of the most obvious factors that Google take into account when indexing sites and presenting them in the SERP is trust and credibility.
Because Google always wants to provide the best, most relevant results to its users. And they can only determine how your site sits in the trust and credibility stakes, by checking out external signals, such as social signals, or citations, or on page SEO efforts, inbound metrics, click through rates and the like.
And if your website is submitted in a relevant directory for your industry and this directory is driving traffic to your site and the users are finding the link beneficial, then it can only boost your credibility and trust in the eyes of the search engines.
What are trustworthy directories
Not every directory is created equal, and so if you aren’t sure which ones will get your penalised, stick with the tried and tested and trusted ones, such as Google My Business, Yellow Pages, Bing Places, Yelp, or White Pages, for example. The ones that are very well known.
Avoid any directory that doesn’t look legitimate and any that isn’t relevant to your business.
How to submit an entry to a directory for SEO
- Always link using your company or brand name or your URL. Avoid any temptation to include keywords, that isn’t the point of being listed in a directory. You’re listing to let Google know that you’re a legitimate business, this isn’t the time or the place for SEO practices.
- Ensure your business description is unique for each directory submission you do. Copy and pasting only looks spammy.
- Don’t use software or pay for someone to submit your website to a directory. This is the directory equivalent of paying for cheap backlinks. You won’t get the quality entries you want, you’ll just get included in every spammy, junk directory going.
- Also opt for quality over quantity every time. Get listed in the best, most relevant directories and then quit while you’re ahead. Anything that isn’t the best is substandard and likely to result in spam listings.