Coincidentally, several clients asked me recently whether they should accept an offer to be included in an online directory. In each case, they were solicited by a listing website. There are thousands of directories online, covering every interest and industry. But, does that mean directory listings should be a big part of your marketing strategy? Not necessarily. Take time to decide whether the directory is a good fit first.
Consider the Source – Is it Valuable?
Not every directory or review site will help your business. I believe the value lies in whether it is a) reputable, b) used by your target market, and c) has potential to drive legitimate traffic to your website. Are you or your customers actually using this directory? If not, the benefit could be minimal.
Real value matters, not only to your customers, but also to Google (and Bing and the other search engines). The quality—not quantity—of links has a big role to play in earning website rankings. The 2011 Google “Penguin” algorithm update put a stop to unethical link-building schemes that gave websites with the most links top billing. Now those sites are penalized. So, the take-away is: don’t add a link just to get one more. Questionable links hurt your relationship with Google.
Being Selective Supports Your Brand
Which brings me back to the question my clients asked, “is it a good idea to add this link to my website, or pay this directory to list my business?” And the short answer is, it depends. There are no hard-and-fast rules. But, if you’re evaluating a specific online directory, try these three steps.
- If you’re not sure the directory is credible, it’s not worth associating with it. The integrity of your website and your brand reputation are too important to compromise.
- Pick a company that is listed in the directory and Google search that company name. If the directory doesn’t bring the company up in the first page or two of search results, it may not have the clout to do anything to boost your visibility.
- That said, well-known consumer review sites and established niche industry directories can be incredibly valuable, especially when it comes to local search! HubSpot listed the top 50 directories here. I’ll bet you’ve heard of (and used) the top 15.
I discouraged my clients from linking with the directories in question, based on the three points above. So, here’s my opinion when it comes to directories: do your research and make a case-by-case decision in your company’s best interest.
If you’re interested in learning more, here are a few additional articles on the subject:
- Are You Listed? Tips for Using SEO Directories Today – Entrepreneur.com
- Are Listings in Directories Good or Bad for SEO? – SEOpoint.com
- Link Building Blog – Moz.com
Have a burning marketing question to ask? I’d love the opportunity to research it and share my perspective. Contact me and tell me what you need to know!