Finally Google has launched it’s much anticipated ‘webspam update’ and named it after the cute bird Penguin. The entire SEO fraternity – blogosphere, Twittersphere and SEO forums are abuzz with reactions to this update. Google says it is fighting web spam, but we really don’t know how effective this update is. In case you were caught up with something else last week, get a quick overview from here. We have had a couple of customers asking us how directory submissions and links obtained using this tactic are affected with this update.
What is the Penguin Update?
Let’s take a quick snapshot of the Penguin update to begin with. The update aims to punish sites that are detected with the following issues.
- Inbound links from dangerous sites
- Aggressive exact-match anchor text
- Low-quality article marketing & blog spam
- Keyword stuffing
Over the last 6 years of our existence, we have seen several search engine updates, especially from Google and directories have survived all these updates. I agree, the value of links from directories is not the same what they used to be then, but it still remains relevant. The key component of modern search engine algorithms is backlinks. The number and quality of backlinks remain the most important factor to calculate rankings. Many of our own sites, including directorymaximizer.com have a link profile which is dominated by links from quality directories.
A step back – What are Directories actually?
Web directories are basically sites where you get information classified across categories. Not many people may be using it to ‘search’ for information these days, but the very purpose of directories cannot be ignored at all. For example, if you are part of a trade or industry association, how would the organization maintain an online list of its members without taking a ‘directory’ approach? Or how would an educational institution share a list of its alumnus? Or how an event website can maintain a list of participants and sponsors for a mega event? Check out some of these sites to know how a ‘directory’ kind of approach is invaluable.
The point which I am trying to make is, just because a website has a directory approach to maintain its content, it does not become spammy and no search engine has ever considered it so.
There’s no denying the fact that these days web directory listings have the added (or primary) objective of link building, and many have made use of this loophole to abuse the system by using automated submission tactics and softwares.
Directory Submission Process
So what would constitute “safe” link building? In a nutshell, you find a site that’s relevant to your site and request them to link to your content or they find your site to be useful and link to you. A manual directory submission process also follows a similar process–
So, our role is nothing but help you with this tedious task. We have developed an expertise in this process, over the years and we offer it as a service to webmasters to save their valuable time.
Are directory links good or safe after the Penguin update?
Broadly, there are two kinds of directories.
|Free directories||Paid directories|
|Where you don’t pay anything to get listed. You are granted a listing if the editor of the directory finds your site suitable.||These directories have high authority and in order to meet their expenses of maintaining their staff and other expenses, they charge a fee for listing.|
The first category is obviously not paid links. The very objective of second category is not to charge for links, but a listing fee which is part of their revenue model. Can’t these links be considered safe then? Would you consider your $1000 annual membership in a local industry association (where you get a link) unsafe? Would you consider the link you get from sponsoring a mega event where you expect to get a huge exposure by paying $50000 a spammy tactic in that case?
The fact is, as long as you follow the directory guidelines and general SEO principles, directories are a good source of backlinks. But, consider these facts to be on a safer side -
- Make sure directories are indexed – If a directory itself is indexed and cached by search engines, it’s defintely safer to get listed there than getting listed in directories that are not indexed. All the directories in our list pass this test every 15- 20 days. If a directory is found not indexed or cached, we immediately drop it from our list. Check out our updated list of directories with number of pages indexed in each.
- Spread your submissions – Our customers have the option to spread submissions across 5 weeks or across a year so that your link building process is more natural and progressive. As a proactive measure, we have slowed down our submission process by 10 days already. Moreover, different directories have different approval policies and the approvals won’t happen on a single day.
- Vary anchor text – Using our service, you can provide up to 20 titles (which will be used as anchor texts) and descriptions. Make use of this to ensure your link profile is built with multiple anchor texts. It’s also recommended to build some links with natural phrases that would include your official site name and not only target the big money keywords.
- Diverse link profile – Directory submission is just one part of entire SEO process and link building tactics. Diversify your links using tools like guest blogging, niche directory submission, social bookmarking, networking etc.
- Link to Inner pages - All your links should not be pointing to the homepage. Build links to relevant inner pages of your site as well.
- Avoid Automated Submissions - Stay away from automated submission tools, software and link networks.
Apart from the above, make sure your site follows all these on-page factors.
To summarize, directory submission is still relevant and to make it more search engine friendly, we have made the following changes in our system.
- Our directory selection process has become more stringent. Apart from a whole set of parameters we have been following, we have added this – check if the directory is indexed and cached by search engines. If a directory is good in the eyes of search engines, the links from it should help in some way. See our updated directory list here.
- Our submission process is slowed down – we have put internal restrictions to the number of directories a site is submitted in a day to ensure the same site is not submitted to many directories within a short period of time.
While we’re trying to adapt our services continually to help you get better results, from your end, you might have to make changes in the way you go about your link building by incorporating some of the suggestions above like: varying your anchor text, diversifying your link profile with other link sources, etc. so that you get the full benefit of our services.