SEO Salesman

Are Online Directories Any Use For SEO?

This week I was notified of the demise of, one of the oldest and most respected internet business directories. Years ago, website owners would sell their first-born to get their URL listed with DMOZ in the forlorn hope that it would boost their search engine rankings. 3 years ago however, Google announced that it would not ‘count’ any links from DMOZ, but still the applications continued. Finally, DMOZ has recognised it’s worthlessness and fallen upon it’s sword.

I’ll start by making it clear – online directory listings are generally a waste of time for sensible SEO. There, I’ve said it.

Google does recognise links from other websites to yours as a ranking factor. The problem is that Google now really wants to see only relevant and/or trustworthy websites linking to you. Online Directories, unfortunately, do not often fall into these categories.

Free Directories

Free Directories are generally a total waste of time and effort. More than often, their monthly traffic is in very small figures and their Trust Score will be zero. Some are worth submitting to simply for brand-awareness – think Yell, Yelp etc. – but be prepared to field a series of sales calls to try to convince you to pay for expensive ‘premium’ listings.

For certain clients I occasionally find respected niche directories of value to them.

Pay-For Directories

Directories which charge a fee have to be closely examined. Although some niche directories may be of value in driving targeted traffic to your site, Google expressly advises that you should NOT pay for links to gain rankings. Doing so may in fact negatively impact your positions.

Yahoo will provide free listings but are still trying to sell Directory Listings / Adverts for £450 or more for 6 months. They claim that you get a link to your website. What they don’t tell you is that the ‘link’ first bounces through Bing before redirecting to your site. Is it worth £75 or more per month?

Case Study – A ‘UK’ Business Directory

Whilst attending client premises, I am often ‘encouraged’ to take phone calls from online advertising companies. Today I had such a call foisted upon me from a UK-based Business Directory offering a £99 listing on their website. “This will be great for your SEO and bring you in lots of business…” the salesman claimed. Well, let’s see…

I did some basic analytics on their site…

  1. The website is simply horrific. Old-fashioned, user-unfriendly and not even mobile compatible.
  2. The meta title, headings and all sorts of other SEO infrastructure requirements are seriously at fault.
  3. The domain Trust Score is ‘zero’ with 85% of it’s incoming links coming from abroad and the vast majority from known spam websites. Hardly inspiring.
  4. Analysis shows that this site has very few visitors per month. Oh dear.
  5. They do not spend any money at all in online advertising. No wonder it has no traffic.
  6. 2015 accounts show a net worth of just £2500 for the Ltd. Company behind it. Hardly impressive.
  7. The Directory is run by a web design company. Their own website even fails basic SEO infrastructure checks.

CONCLUSION – These people are Snake-Oil Salesmen who are simply ripping off honest businesses with false promises. They should stop scamming immediately and start spending some time learning the fundamental basics of internet marketing. A course in Business Ethics would not go amiss either.


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