Do Web Directories Help Or Hurt SEO?

Before the days of search engines, web directories had an important role to play in helping people to find their way around the web. Back in the day they were one of the main ways that websites could get found. Nowadays people can happen upon websites through organic search using search engines, but web directories are still around.

So what role do they have to play in SEO?

The purpose of web directories

Although web directories are still used now, the way an SEO company uses them has changed over the decades. Originally it was a common method to try and get listing on as many directories as possible. This was actually encouraged early on and a recommendation made by Google. After some time, it began to get out of hand. Directories are low cost and low effort, so many website owners began to indiscriminately try and push the quantity of directory listing as high as it could go without any regard for the quality of the directories.

When quality and user experience began to become an issue Google solved it by devaluing directory listings, penalising poor quality links and removing listings from their index.

This left many people questioning the value of directories and whether they were a positive or negative thing for SEO.

So are they good or bad?

It makes a lot of sense that people are cautious about using directories and wonder whether they have any SEO value. The truth is that the approach you take is the main determining factor of whether or not web directories will be a good thing for your website and ranking.

Reputable directories with strict review and approval processes are much more likely to be viewed s trusted and credible sources, and the sites submitted and published by them are equally as likely to be reputable.

Submitting your web page to a reputable directory is valuable because it tells Google that your business or website is legitimate and well regarded. Search engines algorithms have evolved and now take into account many external factors. The prioritise and value trusted and reputable sites much more highly, so finding ways to send the message that you’re  site is well established and not spammy will improve your ranking results.

What kinds of directories should you list in?

SEO Specialist while working

So if you’re looking to improve your ranking and SEO by listing in a directory, what kind should you choose to list in?

Moderated directories

Free directories that have no review process are low quality and will attract spammy or poor submissions. It’s important to seek out directories that are moderated to ensure quality standards are met, this will inevitably lead to the directory being higher quality and more trusted, which will reflect well on your web page when it is listed there.

List in paid directories

Generally speaking, free directories will be of a lower quality and standard. Paid services can afford to have moderation and other tools in place to improve the quality of the directory. People looking to create spam websites and content will rarely invest in paid directories.

List in well-known directories

There’s no point listing in a directory if nobody will find you in it. Seek out the better-known and more highly regarded directories for your website content and topics. This will help to attract higher-quality visitors more relevant to your site and tell search engines that your content is linked to the directories that you are listing in. Avoid questionable or unknown directories as it can reflect badly on your own website and negatively impact results.