I recently acquired a portfolio of six established website link directories with excellent traffic and authority rankings. I am now in the process of making a few modifications and setting standards for any future links that will be approved to post on these sites. I have gradually emerged in the web-traffic niche of Internet marketing with S.W.A.T. Traffic (manual traffic exchange), S.W.A.T. Prospector (RSS Aggrigator, My Ad Success (text ad exchange), Viral Traffic Revolution (viral advertising and training site), Web Traffic Answers.net (paid website traffic generator), and now the link directories. So traffic generation and list building remain as the cornerstone to the service side of my business.
The website directory model has been a source of curiosity for me for more than a year now, but before I jumped in and created or acquired a site I wanted to make sure that directories where still relevant in the ever changing world of SEO and Page Rank. So, I did a little homework and I thought it might be interesting to share a few authoritative opinions as I prepare to re-launch my directory network. My objective is to build a network of directories that measure up to a very high standard and actually benefit the sites that are listed.
Here are a few opinions:
#1. Google’s Policy on Paid Links in Directories – Matt Cutts
The bottom line is that the directory MUST
1. Be of value to searchers – not just webmasters or other directory owners; and
2. Have a clear definable and working editorial policy, i.e., there must be evidence of quality control.
These criteria also apply to free directories in terms of link value.
#2. SEO MOZ – Rand Fishkin
Directory Links Here’s the litmus test for a directory: Do they care who you are? Good directories endeavour to actually create a high-value resource by excercising editorial control and restricting listings to sites and businesses that will be of value to their users. Bad directories endeavour to maximize the number of people willing to pay them money to be listed next to Der International Haus of Spamcakes because, hey, it’s a PR3 link! It’s really that simple. Directory links of the good variety can be really solid link sources (they’re often niche or local), but the bad kind (of which you can probably find 20,000 for $99) ain’t gonna do a damn bit of good for you.
#3. Hub Spot – Rob Ousbey of Distilled
The technique of submitting to relevant directories has been maligned in recent years, typically because of the low quality of many directory sites. Search for sites in your niche or your local area that maintain some kind of directory or recommended website list. You can begin by looking at professional organizations and trusted local sites or searching online for terms such as ‘furniture repair directory.’ In general, it’s good to target sites that have a reasonably high Page Rank and don’t contain ‘spam’ listings
What I have learned so far:
These are just a three small excepts and I will share more with you in future post. It seems greatest opportunity to ensure relevance and quality in a directory network are as follows:
1. Develop a targeted (focused) niche that each directory or group of directories will serve. Presently each of my directories covers a broad range of categories and this will be revised going forward.
2. Establish published editorial standards and controls. No or low editorial controls devalue the directory and the value in submitting your site. One question that must be answered is does everyone who submits get approved? The answer should be no as links need to be human reviewed and meet the published criteria.
3. Revise the paid listings policy to adhere with best practices. Although it appears that charging for premium listings is an acceptable practice. Paid listings may not be a problem if items 1 and 2 are covered.
I have evaluate my new sites and the existing 75,000 plus active links currently posted. I have to wonder if a major culling out is in order based in what I have learned? Clearly all future links will be catagorized with a limited number of related categories and I may literally delete whole categories and the links contained within. One consideration is that many of these links are premium paid listings and my desire would be to honor all prior commitments.
It really is a quality versus quality question, but a lot more research will need to be done on my part to determine the right approach. These are long established sites, which means that there are both benefits and challenges as a result.
One change I will make immediately is in the are of “editorial controls” and the standards required for a link submission to be accepted. Based on the research I have done, this can be easily implemented and will certainly limit the number of sites that make the cut while ensuring the overall quality and value of the directories themselves.
I would love to read your feedback if you have experience with operating or submitting sites to website directories. I am also looking for additional opinions on this topic from experienced webmasters and SEO professionals. If you have thoughts please post a comment below this post.
I am here to help you succeed!
(c) Copyright 2008-2011 James A. Holmes. All Rights Reserved.
James Holmes, Global Team Builder, Coach and Trainer, combining online and offline techniques to help you grow your business. To request a free 30 minute consultation contact James by phone at 303-523-9503 or email at james@AskJamesHolmes.com
Note: If you’d like to reprint this article on your blog or in your newsletter you have permission to do so as long as the copyright information and the resource box above remains with the article.