Why are you still submitting your site and articles to directories? Sure, there was a time when directories were valuable. But that time has passed. So stop feeding their business and build your own instead.
Page Rank Ponzi
Directories are essentially a form of PageRank ponzi. They use your content to build their business – to build their trust and authority – and, in exchange, lease a small fraction of that trust and authority (e.g. PageRank) back to you.
You either give away or actually pay to provide them with content. They take your assets, gladly, and use it to do what you should be doing. Even if you get a small benefit from this exchange, you’re getting the short end of the stick.
There was a time when directories were useful and valuable. From the mid-to-late 90s to around 2003, directories were used by many to find sites and content. This was before tabbed browsing and broadband connections made it easy to get from one site to another. This was before search became the dominant way to navigate the web. This was before social platforms allowed you to tap your social graph and crowdsource information.
One only needs to look at the search volume for the term ‘web directory’ to see that this is an outdated method of online discovery.
In the directory heyday it may have been difficult to get your site, article or blog post distributed. The web was not nearly as connected or fluid.
But today we have blogging platforms, a robust social graph and numerous social media outlets that give you an opportunity to capitalize on your own intellectual property instead of giving it away to others for peanuts.
We Are The Directory
Whether you call it curation or crowdsourcing there are other repositories that mimic and exceed the traditional directory. You might search Delicious. In fact, more people should. Or you might try out Trunk.ly.
We’re doing the work of directories every day.
In June of 2010, Google launched Caffeine and increased their ability to crawl and index the web. This was one of the last pieces of the puzzle in making directories obsolete.
Previously, directories might have been able to quickly surface new sites or content that hadn’t yet been found by Google. But that’s just not the case today. Google finds new content even in the dark and dusty corners of the Internet where Geocities pages lurk and survive.
So what does Google think about directories today?
Google shut down their directory. Read that again and think about what it means for the future and value of directories. And don’t get me started on the utter collapse of DMOZ. (No, I’m not even going to link there.)
As an aside, Google may want to consider a folder level URL removal so directory results (which return a 404) don’t clutter up SERPs.
Most web directories are hastily thrown together arbitrage sites that serve as outposts for spam. Here’s a excerpt from an email sent to me by an ‘SEO Consultant’.
This is not SEO, at least not the SEO I practice. Some may reject this carpet bombing approach but subscribe to the idea that a handful of paid directories are worthwhile.
I say save your money.
Paid Link or Paid Listing?
Frankly, I’m still a bit irked that Google doesn’t view a paid listing as a paid link. The argument for paid directories is that they provide a certain level of curation that makes them valuable. You’re paying for someone to curate that directory – not for the link. This seems a very thin argument at best, and a bunch of claptrap at worst. Most, if not all, directories are pretty much a free-for-all as long as what you’re submitting isn’t complete spam or off topic. The level of curation is marginal, and I’m being nice.
Not only that, but it comes down to intent. For some reason I hear Jack McCoy yelling ‘intent follows the bullet’. It’s not a perfect analogy, but the general idea is that intent matters. Today, the intent for a directory listing is, quite simply, to secure a back link. So, what exactly is the difference between a paid link and a paid listing? There is none as far as I can tell.
How valuable is that directory link anyway? I’m telling you that the value of these links declines every day. People aren’t using these sites. Newer technologies have replaced directories in the information ecosystem. The closure of the Google Directory should be a wake up call to anyone still clinging to this practice.
Traditional directories are an obsolete method of information discovery. Even if they provide some small benefit today, you’re paying a hefty price to support someone else’s dying business model. Stop PageRank ponzi and invest in the future and yourself instead.