Using Logic to Prove that Directory Links are NOT Worthless

It’s faddish these days to walk around saying, “Directory links are worthless,” or “Directory links aren’t that effective for SEO anymore.”  I don’t know where the people who seeded this myth (or the parrots who repeat it in lockstep) came from, but I know how to make them flip their opinion straight away.  By using logic.

1236149324_b860031e8dRecently a colleague of mine was looking at a client’s backlinks in Google webmaster tools and noticed that about 20 of them were coming from a single directory submission to directory name removed to preserve its effectiveness*.  I had included about 20 tags when I did the directory submission, and Google had indexed and cached each page that was created in the directory via tagging.  The fact that Google spiders this directory often and felt it was important enough to show as 20 backlinks to a site in webmaster tools would indicate to a rational person that Google trusts this directory a great deal.

Yet there are still people who like to make the generalization that directory link building is dead. Why?  Well, the generalization seemed to begin after it became clear that Google was on a crusade to torture directories that sold links.  When Google feels like it, it will go to a random directory that sells links, knock down its PageRank, decache half its pages, and make sure it doesn’t rank for its own name.

The fact that the only way Google can handicap the power of a directory is to manually punish it should indicate to a logical person that directory links must carry weight in the algorithm.  And based on what we know about the algorithm, the links should carry weight.  Google likes links surrounded by similar links, and that’s the essence of what a page in a web directory is–it’s just a collection of links surrounded by similarly-themed links.

Google can’t just devalue all paid directory links in the same way that it can devalue, say, sitewide links because directories don’t leave footprints that the algorithm can discover on its own.  As a result, the only way Google can reduce the effectiveness of a directory link is to manually visit a directory in question and punish it.  Therefore, Google only punishes directories that sell links to a.) create the public perception that buying directory links isn’t effective anymore and b.) rob directories of power in the only way it can–through manual penalties.  Ergo, broad sweeping generalizations like “directory links are worthless,” have no place in civilized culture.

image credit: bill barber


  1. ummm nothing new here…I hope the people who think directory links are worthless, continue thinking that way…

    ignorance is bliss they say…..

  2. @Mr. Dixon, not everything here is going to be new to you. This blog caters to people of all SEO knowledge bases.

  3. @ Clint – agree with you on the “hope others continue to think that way”, but disagree with your little shot about “nothing new”. As a blogger I know how hard it is to appease all experience levels.

  4. I agree with almost everything written here.
    There is something unrelated to algorithms that will push directories down, down do road, and that something is the growth of social media,which will gain weight in “ranking systems” of all search engines.

    Don’t get me wrong, I start every linkbuilding campaign with directories because I know that they are not worthless but as I said, directories will lose their importance down the road.

  5. So the goal is to buy into multiple cheap directories with low pr with hope that these directories doesn’t annoy google enough to slap on a manual devaluation?

    Is yahoo still worthwhile for linkbuilding?

  6. Google will do their best to fight the nature of the new economy but neither directories or paid links are going away. Directories must adapt. Publishers must adapt. Advertisers must adapt. Directories will not go away or become worthless, they will just be forced to evolve along with the rest of the Internet.

  7. I totally agree with you on this article, it is still important to submit your site to directories, as long as they are not of a low quality. I think directory submission and paid directories are however, worthless in the long run.

  8. I agree, directory links aren’t worthless, its a free do follow, some make you pay is why I tend to stay away from directories though.

  9. I agree with your thinking, although i have also same thought the Directory also play a important role for link submission.

  10. if it’s true that these directories are useless or going to be soon, then i’ve spent the last 6 months of my life wasting my time working that angle of seo optimizaton. which infact has rasied the pagerank and the serps so the directories are still good, i have the organiz proof

  11. While SEO seems like a large mountain that needs to be climbed, there a also some basic steps required

  12. I agree most of these directories end up just becoming free for all link farms, but the flaw in Google’s algorithm helps us “grey hat” our way into some search result rankings.
    This does not by any way mean that we should submit to every directory out there…but on the other hand, according to Google, every link helps…right? Someone correct me if I’m wrong.


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