High-Quality Directories and How They Add Value to the Web

I am in the industry long enough to have witnessed both the growth and decline in the popularity of “web directory” phenomenon.

Web directories emerged prior to search engines as the means to help people discover websites online. During Google times, web directories were used to build backlinks and extra visibility for a website. Then they became popular among link builders – from where the concept abuse started.

There is an argument that link building hasn’t killed web directories. What happened instead is that directories were no longer needed (search engines did the job) but is it really so? To me, it’s the same as to say that Wikipedia is not needed thanks for Google Knowledge Graph (yes, I realize the knowledge graph is being built based on Wikipedia, hence the sarcasm)

The difference between web directories and search engines is that high-quality web directories are heavily moderated. The purpose of today’s web directory is to provide the well-structured database of high-quality websites.

Hence good directories can still be useful:

  • To build your site co-citation signals
  • To put your site in the most relevant immediate contest
  • To build more brand name mentions and awareness (to help build digital footprint)

Below I am listing selected directories that are still driving value to your website (if you are listed there) but more importantly, provide valuable user experience.

Featured sites:

 

Requirements to be listed

Why is it here?

Dmoz

No “mirror” and non-original-content sites”, no sites with illegal content, no sites with mostly affiliate links

The fact that Google still trusts Dmoz enough to show “anchor text or listings from” it is pretty self-explanatory.

Business.com

“Sites must serve as a resource for businesses or business professionals”. They actually have very strict guidelines listed here

Listing your site there actually drives traffic and brings trust. Note: I did find a few a bit forced “exact-match anchor text listings there” which I’d avoid if I were them

Dir Journal

No sites with broken links, only family-friendly sites, sites with cross-browser support, no sites with pop-ups,

Each site has a separate page listing * some stats, helpful links as well as description and most useful pages from that domain. That could become a powerful brand name asset! They also offer free webmaster tools and have a separate “local” directory

JoeAnt

“Our users expect relevant results with appropriate ratings”: sufficient content and contact info (for business websites) are required

I actually LOVED the site search feature ** showing different features of each website: It shows the site is very-well curated!

Yahoo Dir

Cross-browser support, no sites with “under construction” pages

It’s hard not to mention Yahoo when talking about directories. They say it’s too expensive to justify it though.

Jasmine

No pharmacy, affiliate-only, redirected sites (The guidelines are rather vague: “it is difficult to name the exact websites we reject”)

Best results are labeled. Category pages have lots of content beyond links. They provide 100 / 300-word review for each site (So they write the copy themselves: Neat!)

No websites with illegal or pornographic content, no affiliate or MLM sites, no mirror and non-original sites

The site overall is very user-friendly. I liked the individual listing pages: They have “related articles” and the ability to comment and rate

Isoosi

I actually couldn’t find clear quality guidelines on their submission page (I can assume it’s located elsewhere)

Positions itself more as a “human-empowered” search engine (they claim to have a crawler of their own), has a great focus on community

*Dir Journal listing screenshot:

Dir Journal

**JoeAnt search results:

JoeAnt

Honorable mentions:

I wasn’t able to find any arguments pro or against the below directories (or something worth noting in the “Why is it here?” column above), so I am just listing them because I know they have a very good reputation:

  • Aviva directory: One of the oldest, best-known directories out there. They say it’s trusted and can even drive traffic.
  • Alive Directory: Interestingly, it shows number of clicks on each link (A good sign it’s actually able of sending traffic)
  • Skaffe: I like that they show Google Plus button and have “Address” and telephone. I wish they supported that more (most listings provide no telephone; I couldn’t find a zip code that would have any search results)

Further reading:

What are your thoughts about web directories nowadays? Please share your thoughts!

Is Your Authority Site Safe From Negative SEO? A Look At PRWEB And PRNewswire

[Disclaimer: Contributors' views are their own. They do not necessarily represent Devshed views ]

Last month I wrote an article about Google’s payday loan update which seemed to hit several sites but bypassed YouTube.

This month I have decided to go and take a look at two of the most popular press release sites and see if they have recovered from the penalty.

The 1st site I looked at was PR Newswire, who was getting an estimated 441,000 organic visits per month in May before the penalty. As you can see in the image below they are now driving an estimated 47,800 organic visits per month to the site after the penalty.

 pr newswire traffic

The 2nd site I have been monitoring is PR Web, one of the other big players in the Press Release niche. PR Web was getting a whopping 760,000+ estimated organic visits per month in May and since the penalty they are getting just over 34,000 estimated organic visits.

prweb traffic

Due to these penalties both press releases companies have made sweeping changes to what they will allow to be covered in their releases moving forward.

For instance neither agency will allow releases to be published about HCG, Green Coffee Beans, Raspberry Ketone, Garcinia Cambogia, Electronic Cigarettes or Payday Loans.

Most of these products Google will happily to advertise for profit, as seen in the image below.

 garcinia

If you think about the implication of these penalties it should also make it pretty clear that negative seo can be applied to most anyone, regardless of the size, age or reputation of the site in question.

Let’s put this in perspective, both of these sites have millions of existing links pointing to them over the course of several years in the business. The behavior of a few black hat SEO’s out there caused the sites to lose rankings and traffic for keywords which resulted on up to a 90% drop in estimated organic traffic.

While it is unlikely this was an intentional negative SEO attempt the result was the same, the sites were penalized due to behavior outside of their direct control and links they did not build themselves.

How difficult would it be to replicate this same pattern of bad behavior and victimize other, smaller sites that are standing in the way of your rankings?

Matt Cutts put out a YouTube video discussing how negative seo is easily combated through the disavow tool and how webmasters might just find it a minor inconvenience to disavow links.

Below is a snapshot of PR Web’s 26 MILLION links across nearly 200,000 domains I am not sure about you, but I would think reviewing even 1% of those links to be more than a “minor” inconvenience, even if you are lucky enough to have a full time webmaster on your staff.

prweb links

The point is no matter what you do it is in your best interest to regularly check your backlink profile in Google Webmaster tools and 3rd party tools such as Majestic Seo. Many times the penalty is not applied right away and by the time you figure out you have been a victim of negative SEO you may have to go back months to see where those links have come from.

What do you think; do you think Google has made it too easy to use negative SEO as a tactic?

Simplify: Email Marketing Using Autoresponders 101

Are you depending on Google to keep sending you traffic? What if you stop ranking so well? Or your site gets a penalty? Maybe you are paying for traffic over and over. Why would you want to do that? You could be capturing each visitor to your list and keeping them there. That is what auto-responders do.

By offering a series of useful email messages to your visitors you can get them to give you their email address and keep them coming back. The best way to grow your list is to offer something of value. At one time most people used eBooks. The problem with that is the high percentage of subscribers who download what you offer and then immediately unsubscribe. If you send the same information as an autoresponder series, your subscribers have to stay on your list.

This works – but many are not doing this as well as they could. Think about the emails you receive. Personally, I read the short ones as soon as I open them. But the long ones I often save for “later” – but that “later” never comes. I bet many other people do that, too.

Goal: Get Your Emails Opened

The goal is to get your emails opened. By sending really short emails your subscribers will be more likely to open them. They may not do this consciously, but subconsciously they’ll associate your emails with “short and painless”. That is what you want. Their goal is to get information in easily digested bites.

Your goal is to keep them opening or at least wanting to receive your emails so when they are ready to buy what you offer they remember you. Search traffic converts because people use it when they’re ready to buy. If they remember you they won’t need to search – they can just click on your link in your emails.

Remember to ALWAYS include a link back to your site!

Simplify the Process

What is easy gets done more often. The best way to create your autoresponder series is to use a template you can edit each time. That way your header, logo, slogan, social sharing buttons, and links to your social networking accounts are already in place. You just edit the text.

Email solutions providers are making templates easier to use. There is a video about autoresponders that explains the many features that are now built into templates. If you make your messages flow in a sequence, your subscribers will be more likely to be happy to receive them. Here’s also a quick and sweet intro to autoresponders by ProBlogger.

One way to do that is to write a how-to and then break it up into small sections. Or you can make a list of priorities in order and write each one separately. Do whatever works best for you. Remember to always focus on what your potential buyers want – NOT what you want.

Give your subscribers what they want to receive and you can keep them on your list reminding them to choose your company. Over time you build trust that increases conversions. Do this consistently and your profits will grow.

Mobile Responsiveness

Studies continue to show increases in the percentage of email being opened on smartphones. Make sure you have updated all your email templates and landing pages to work on mobile devices.

Do not assume they work. You need to actually test them on as many devices as possible. Verify that the header, images, and videos resize correctly. If they don’t you will need to update your site with new code, a new theme, or plugins.

Click on the social media accounts and verify they take your readers to each specific social account. Test every social sharing button – or at least the major platforms – and ensure that it works as expected. Configure shared tweets to include your Twitter username and make sure images share properly on Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Repeat Visitors Are More Likely to Buy

Building your list, setting up autoresponders, and creating actual relationships with your visitors can turn missed opportunities into leads and sales. You must keep them coming back to buy.