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Google & Paid Directory Listings

     
8:53 pm on Feb 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Paying for a link placement in a directory is generally considered to be:

really old school
a waste of money because Google devalued all directories
flagging your site as a link buyer
a bad idea, avoid it
etc etc

Back in the day there was a pecking order in directories and a very few, like Best Of The Web, were thought by some very experienced people (Tedster no less) to be treated as special cases and above the fray of Google’s devaluation of directories. Judging from the current cost of a placement in BOTW, they must obviously think their listings still offer a real value.

I’ve just been spending some time on the subject of domain authority and how difficult it is to achieve, and wondering if, despite being old fashioned, supposedly out-of-date, obsolete etc etc, that there may still be directories out there that play a real role in adding authority to their listed sites.

Note: This not an invitation to air your views about BOTW but rather to discuss the possibility that some directories may still be relevant in contributing to domain authority.
11:29 pm on Feb 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If a paid directory is likely to drive you real traffic then go ahead and submit your site even if their is an editorial review fee. Most websites (I would guess over 99%) will not generate any real traffic which is why they are not worth the effort or money to submit your site. But there are some rare niche sites that actually have real users looking and clicking on listings.

Oversimplified answer - the easier it is to gain a link the more likely it is worthless
12:03 am on Feb 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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As with all things in life, much less the web, "it depends..."

The strength of a trusted directory link is still there, just vastly devalued as far as the major search engines are concerned.

I can think of only a handful of technical/industrial directories with that kind of power/value. BOTW is not one of them, though from a more general level, it still has value and a reason to exist.

Paid links, however, tend to deliver less than their cost, so I have always applied ROI against such investments. Even in the heyday of directories I never found any real VALUE on ROI, so discontinued the practice many, many, MANY years ago.
4:31 am on Feb 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Years back there was a niche paid directory where it was helpful to be listed if you were in the niche. That directory, and their 30 or 40 other directories still show up if you search the directory name. They also have 8 sitelinks, which I haven't seen recently.

My take-away is that links still provide benefit to upstream sites and directories aren't as dead as some would proclaim. It's still not enough for me to pitch some cash, but interesting to see.
1:48 pm on Feb 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Au contraire, I believe that some of the higher quality paid directories do offer some good value in terms of SEO. Not everyone is skilled at getting content shared on high authority pages that already exist, so paying the price for convenience can be worthwhile to get the ball rolling in terms of ranking. Just my point of view though, others may disagree and have better ways than the ridiculous price some of them want to charge.
1:55 pm on Feb 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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In my opinion the best way to judge the value of a link is by how much traffic it sends.

DMOZ used to send a trickle of traffic to my sites years ago, but hardly any now.

Two of my sites are listed in BOTW, although I didn't pay for either listing -- their editors found the sites themselves and added them on their own. But there's hardly any traffic from there either.

Interestingly, google itself used to have a general directory -- a copy of DMOZ, but they shut that down.

I don't know about local or niche directories, but don't think there are any general directories that send much traffic.
3:13 pm on Feb 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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For most sites, small business sites, that is - often directories are the only types of links they can easily do themselves. With small local businesses (outside of large cities) having an extra 10 domains and 10 links will make a huge difference.

Small businesses are often too cheap to pay for quality SEO, so they learn a bit and do it themselves.

However, I agree 1,000% for all other sites (large cities, high competition, e-commerce). But your local plumber or hair stylist won't pay for quality SEO.

I can tell you without reservation one of the companies I work with has on occasion purchased links from a few directories. One of the sites is clearly a PAID AD site for a very particular device/tool. We gained 56,000 links from that one domain for $250.

There are 15 separate image ads with links on each page (the other 14 are other companies) - everyone pays them between $50-$100 per year. Within 2 weeks after renewing our "subscription" the main category of the site decreased that e-commerce category page and the main keyword phrase (1 word) by 10 positions. We went from 4th rank to 14th in 2 weeks.

That is, we let the paid links expire, they stopped appearing. We renewed it (much to my disapproval), then our page reduced by 10 positions for the keyword directly related to the one site.

We have over 3 million inbound links, so 56,000 from one site is a lot but not from a percentage basis.

Just wanted to share that.

P.S. If I recommend that we EAT the $$$ and ask them to take down the links, we would not do that from a corporate standpoint - even if I showed the stats.... unfortunately.
5:45 pm on Feb 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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When I think of 'directory' now I usually think of a curated collection of links built around something else, usually a portal that is definitely niche and maybe geographic within that niche.

Links from these places help as far as I can see. Yes, they're advertising, and yes they're low hanging fruit in the sense that they're a 'gimme' for cash, but then again they're not because the site (read:business) you propose has to have the stature or reputation to get an editorial approval. So not anyone can have them. They do send traffic too - not in spades, but as the profile you get usually involves contributing content and sometimes being active in a B2B marketplace, then it's good traffic. The listing and the link is part of a presence on the site in question, a recognition of being part of a community, even if one of the bars to entry is a subscription fee.

So. yes, it's within your control, but it's not 'set and forget', and it's not easy to get.
5:57 am on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I can't even remember the last time I performed an everyday search for information and a paid directory was the top result. They probably only appear if you specifically look up paid directories. If Google doesn't value them highly it's probable that they don't value their links highly either, save your money as there are probably very, very few worth the money, if any. That's my opinion until I see paid directories return results for anything non-directory related.
12:32 pm on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Just did a test search for a specific type of small business in a small town. Top two results were paid directories followed by sites like Tripadvisor.

Depending on the sector the only effective way to be found on the web might by by paying for a directory entry although it is something that I would only think about for small B&M business in niche sectors and geographies.
12:49 pm on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Well there you have it then, paid directories are good for local businesses.

I looked it up a bit but gave up after finding...

- 3 ways to rank better using paid directories
- 4 ways to rank better using paid directories
- 5 ways to rank better using paid directories
- 6 ways to rank better using paid directories
- 7 ways to rank better using paid directories
- 8 ways to rank better using paid directories
- 9 ways to rank better using paid directories
- you get the idea. The things people do to differentiate their articles for better rank :)
4:30 am on Mar 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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One of the tests I use to evaluate a directory is to see how well it organizes and edits its listings. Organization of the directory categories is something you need to explore by browsing the directory. Check also for broken links, spelling, etc.

If the directory accepts the listings verbatim, as submitted by whoever submits them, retaining keyword-stuffed titles, etc, it's very likely that Google isn't going to trust the directory's judgement. You can easily test by putting text from the directory listings in quotes and searching for it. Repetition of boiler-plate text is a tip-off that it may be a link farm, certainly not a well maintained and independent directory.
11:04 am on Mar 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Rule of thumb - if the directory is beating you in the SERPS then you might possibly want to be in it. If you just want to buy some "link juice" then you are probably wasting your money.