With all the recent changes to the Google Search some of our clients are worried about links from a web directory negatively affecting their SEO rankings. Since it can be a confusing topic, I’ll explain the search engine ramifications of gaining links from a web directory versus link farms.
What is a Web Directory?
Web directories are listings for businesses. A legitimate directory provides accurate information about a business’ name, address, phone number and hopefully provide a space to include services and other pertinent data. Directories not only collect links, but split them into searchable categories. Their goal is to be useful for searchers looking for specific types of businesses or information. According to many popular definitions, a web directory is really meant for human eyes instead of search engine bots.
Here are a few examples of web directories:
- Angie’s List
- Google Places
What is Link Farming?
Back before Penguin Changes to Google Search, the algorithm gave brownie SEO points to websites that had lots of inbound links. Inbound links from other websites pointing to your content. Think of these links as votes of confidence; they point to your content as a valuable source of information.
Link farms are websites with the sole purpose of amassing links regardless of quality. They try to game search engines by generating inbound links. It’s kind of like going to fiverr.com and for 5 bucks asking for 100 Facebook “likes” for your company page. It’s artificial… and therefore Google and Bing penalized sites for having these types of links. That’s why a well placed link on a web directory — a source where users actually look for businesses — is very different and more valuable.
Links That Will Get Your Site Into Trouble
An inbound link is a reward for good content. When a site points to a page, it’s a compliment that it’s worth sharing. According to Google, here are linking schemes that will negatively impact your SEO:
- Buying or selling links in order to pass PageRank. For example, someone offers to send you a free gift in exchange for a link. Bzzzzt… no thanks.
- If you link to my website … then I’ll link to your website.
- Creating a “partner page” exclusively for the sake of cross-linking.
- Automated systems to create links.
- Outbound links in the footer.
- Links embedded into widgets that are distributed across multiple sites.
- Forum comments that use links in the post or signature.
This is why those offers from “SEO companies” that offer link building for $100 is a really bad idea. Done right, link building can definitely be a power tool for building sustainable SEO rankings. You just need to know the best practices and how to incorporate an appropriate web directory into the mix.
How many quality links does your site have?