From an SEO perspective, directories have had a bad reputation. Prior to 2007, directories were heavily used by SEOs and site owners to build links and manipulate search engine rankings. This widespread abuse caused Google to take action against directories. They penalized hundreds of directories at the time. Some believe that this was a manual action because not all directories seem to be hit with a penalty.
Regardless of whether the penalties were manual or automatic, the news spread fast throughout the SEO industry, and directory link building became taboo almost overnight. Like everyone else, I stopped using directories because it was too risky. Fast-forward to today, I’m more cautious about link building in general, but I do use directories if it meets my quality standards. For many SEOs and site owners who were around back then, they still have a bad taste left in their mouth and won’t have anything to do with directories.
My thought is this…
Intrinsically there is nothing wrong with directories. Directories by themselves are useful resources. Directories got a bad reputation only after people started to abuse and corrupt the system.
Despite the stigma of directory link building, I wanted to explain why directories are important to the Internet and why it won’t be replaced by anything else.
- Search engines are biased. Search engine algorithms were not created to objectively provide lists of something. When you think about it, search engine results are actually biased because the sites listed higher up typically have a ton of backlinks. Directories, on the other hand, are more objective in the way they list sites. With a directory, a new website has the same chance of being listed at the top of a category as a popular site. This is because directories don’t use algorithms to rank sites – they simply order the sites based on date or alphabetical order.
- Search engines are not best equipped for providing comprehensive lists. When I need to do information research or find a product, Google and Bing do a fine job. But, when I’m looking for a comprehensive list on a topic or companies in a specific industry, search engines do a very poor job. Honestly, after page 2 or 3, I think the relevancy factor goes way down. Unlike search engines, directories were specifically created to provide lists. A good directory will have hundreds to thousands of specific categories which helps in terms of sorting out relevancy.
- Directories are useful to people. At the end of the day, it is people who make the Internet. Without people using the Internet, there is no need for the Internet. And a common task that people do everyday is look for lists, whether it be for work or for personal use. Directories fulfill this need by providing the most efficient way of presenting lists on the Internet.