Link Building – Are Directories a Bad Idea?

Posted on Mar 2, 2013 in Link Building

Link Building – Are Directories a Bad Idea?

I was lucky to meet Peter Kent (The author of SEO for Dummies) back in 2004. I have learned a lot from him over the years, and have been blessed that he has become a friend and that he has referred many clients our way.

Recently, one of the clients he referred me sent me an email that said:

“I was reading this story today http://www.sitepronews.com/2013/02/25/google-tolls-the-death-knell-for-web-directories.  What are your thoughts?  I was going to have our website submitted to directories, but according to this website that would be a really bad idea.  It sounds like Google has been busy making a lot of changes and I want to make sure what we are doing meets with Google’s standards as best we can.”

I spent some time researching the topic on Matt Cutts’ and a few other websites, then I sent the following email to Peter Kent:

“One of your referrals we are doing work for sent me this link saying that Google may be penalizing for directory and other suspicious links. I know we have heard all of this before, but after reading this very recent article it seems like it might be worth looking into. Here is the link and the message I received from the client:”

Here is his response and the rest of the conversation:

Peter Kent:

“It was good, thanks again for a great lunch! Yes we should do it more often.

About this stupid article; this kind of thing really annoys me. It’s all totally unsubstantiated. What did Google say, and where did it say it? “January 22nd 2013 marked a huge step towards destroying the very fabric and integrity of the web…” Oh, really, what happened on January 22nd? Where?

There’s nothing in the Google Webmaster’s blog, nothing on Matt Cutts’ blog… I can’t find what Google actually said, and as what he says in his article doesn’t seem to make sense, I cannot believe an unreferenced third-party article like this … I need to see what they actually said.

One commenter actually says: “Hmm, I think you may have gotten your information wrong on the Jan. 22, 2013 algorithm update. According to Google it was a Panda refresh and not a Penguin update. Google confirmed this on Twitter. So, I think the premise for this article is flawed to the core.”

Have you any idea where the story comes from? These sorts of articles amaze me; some jerk makes a claim, with no references, and dozens of people comment about it as if it’s true … but how do they know? “It’s written on the Internet so it must be true”? People are so gullible. I’m more cynical; I don’t believe what people say, especially if it doesn’t seem to make sense, if they can’t say where the idea comes from!”

Dan Stratford’s Response:

“Peter, your responses are always insightful to the point and Would you mind if i posted my question and your response in a blog post on my site, and if not, would you rather I left your name off of it or cited you as a source.”

Peter’s Response:

“I posted a comment to that article, asking what he was talking about – who said what? – but the comment has never been added; they are moderated comments, and the moderator evidently has never approved my post.

So, I’ve still no idea what’s going on. But I’m also wary that I’ve missed something somewhere that I should have noticed!

On the other hand, I’ve looked at SearchEngineLand’s Searchcap around the date mentioned in the article – January 22nd, and can’t find anything!: http://searchengineland.com/searchcap-the-day-in-search-february-22-2013-149388, http://searchengineland.com/searchcap-the-day-in-search-february-25-2013-149714, http://searchengineland.com/searchcap-the-day-in-search-february-25-2013-149714 …

I did find this: http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-24-16255.html about a Panda algorithm update that day… But the link to “background” is bad, it goes to a post that is almost two years old (but apparently Google often links to that page when announcing updates, not very helpful.

So, A, Sure, you can use my response, and B … yes, I guess you can cite me.”

Thank you Peter for the excellent and grounded insight.