Thanks for the replies, everyone:
How many free links are you talking about? Did you do them yourself or hire a submission service?
I think it is around 50 or so. they probably all would have been sumbitted wintin a day of each other, but the actual listing in the directories might have been over a one week period.
I didn't hire / pay anyone to do it. I am pretty sure it is a free service where they submit to a bunch of directories, and in exchange, you have to give them your email address (which I am sure they then send as much spam too as possible). I think if you were to go to a directory like jayde you can see the offer submission they have (the free one, not any paid one).
At worst these directory links are just ignored.
good. That is what I wanted to hear.
Study those who Google now ranks well on your terms with an eye towards what Google feels is better for their end user.
It is, sadly to say, the usual suspects. competitors seems to rank well using link exchanges to unrelated sites, and blog / forum spam, etc, but mostly link exchanges, as well as links to their sites from their blogger site.
A few have multiple sites with more or less the same content cross-linked.
I'll bet you also are finding you are seeing fewer new keywords, and a larger swath of google traffic is coming from the same keywords.
I will have to look into that. My first impression is that you are correct, because the bounce rate has improved (meaning gotten lower). so there might be less diversity in entrance keywords.
but wouldn't a lower bounce rate contradict what people are saying about googles increased use of synonyms? Wouldn't a hire reliance on synonyms in the SERPs lead to a HIGER bounce rate?
For people who are seeing an increase in traffic, are they seeing a higher or lower bounce rate (assuming that bounce rate is a relevant performance metric to that page)?