Friday, November 25, 2011

Link Building With Directories: Does it Still Work?

In the past, submitting your website to SEO friendly directories as a link building strategy was a great way to build your backlink profile and improve your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It didn't take a lot of time, effort, or critical thinking to get the job done. As a result, it was one of the most relied upon link building strategies for many years. And yet, as Google and other search engines improve their algorithms to better recognize quality backlinks and the value behind them, submitting to directories as a link building strategy has become less popular. This transition has a lot of people throughout the SEO community asking, "Does submitting to directories still work? Should directory submissions be a part of my building strategy?" Let's discuss what you need to know.

How old is your website?

At first glance, you may be wondering why that would be important. But think about it - if you have a website that is 10 years old, one that you have been building links to throughout that period of time, do you really think that getting a few directory links is going to provide you with a strong boost in the SERPs? It is highly unlikely, especially if you are submitting to lower level directories that have low PageRank and a weak backlink profile of their own.

On the other hand, if your website is brand new, the most important thing you can do to initiate the process of ranking well in the SERPs is to get yourself on the map. During the infancy stages of a website, any backlinks help, really. You want to do everything you possibly can to ensure that Google starts crawling your site on a regular basis, and getting backlinks is the best way to do that.

What kind of directory is it?

In the end, if you are trying to decide whether or not submitting to a particular website is worth it, you have to determine on some level the value you would get from that link. A good way to make a quick assessment is to use SEOmoz' Open Site Explorer to analyze the backlink profile of the directory. Also, be sure to check out the PageRank of the directory's homepage - if it is greater than that of your own site, it may very well be worth the time it takes to submit your site, assuming the link isn't incredibly deep within the directory. 

Another thing to keep in mind is relevancy. If you are operating a website that sells furniture online, and you are submitting your site to bunch of automobile related directories, that may not be doing you very much good. Remember, Google (and others) is going to place greater value to a link coming from a related site. From their perspective, using the automobile example, "Is it really valuable if a directory that focuses on the automobile industry is linking to a site that sells furniture? Are they really a good judge of furniture related sites?" In the end, who knows, maybe they are, but a search engine uses an algorithm, not a person, to make those assessments.

What other kinds of link building are you doing?

As we move in to the future of search engine marketing, Google's ranking algorithm is becoming wiser. The folks over at Google know that submitting to directories is a lazy way of attempting to improve your backlink profile, so you better believe that they have worked something in to their algorithm to place a lesser value on those links. And while it doesn't make any of our jobs easier, I agree with that approach. People shouldn't be rewarded with the highest rankings simply because they can sit in front of a computer and click "submit" over and over again.

As a result, if submitting to directories is your only link building strategy, I wouldn't expect much improvement in the SERPs over the long run. A very important thing to keep in mind is the fact that most directories do not give you the opportunity to use keyword related anchor text, which is ultimately what drives rankings for the keyword you are trying to rank for. Most allow you to submit the homepage URL which serves as the link back to your site. With that in mind, other link building strategies should be utilized. If you are operating a brand new site, it isn't a bad idea, but be sure to know what other tactics you plan on using as time moves along and supplement that work with those strategies as soon as possible.

1 comment:

  1. You’ve done a great job explaining how to build links. It’s a little bit hard to figure out what methods work better than others. It’s a very time consuming process,