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  • Link Building with Directories

    Link Building with Directories: Pros, Cons & Proper Strategy

    Directory link building used to be a primary link building strategy.

    Search Engine Optimization has changed significantly.

    Today’s link building services include very few, if any, backlinks from traditional internet directories.

    The best backlinks have some of the following features:

    Though not as powerful as it was in the past, directory submission can still provide businesses with value in terms of targeted traffic and improved ranking.

    If you’re relatively new to SEO, the following are some tips for creating effective content and link building strategies through the use of web directories.

    Optimizing for Humans, Not Bots

    Right from the start, it had been Google’s and other search engines’ goal to serve not only the most relevant information to users, but also to direct them to information that is of great quality.

    DMOZ Directory

    By providing high-quality information, you will optimize not just for search engines, but for the real market here, which is other human beings. People search the Internet for real solutions to their real-life problems. If you fail to provide the quality of information that users are looking for, they’ll turn to your competitors instead.

    So the more you provide high-quality information, the more people will perceive you as a valuable source of information. They’ll grow to see you as the go-to expert in your field.

    It might seem like a daunting challenge to try to churn out extremely high-quality content on a regular basis, but don’t be too concerned about it. The search engine game has shifted from quantity to quality. You don’t have to produce massive amounts of content, as long as you provide high-quality content on a regular and consistent basis.

    Link Diversity

    While link building from directories has declined as a primary source of backlinks to websites, it still remains a source for creating a diverse backlink portfolio.

    diverse link portfolio with directory backlinks
    Directories represent only part of a complete and diverse backlink portfolio with a diverse tail.

    Admittedly, the mix and share of directory backlinks has significantly declined.

    With the exception of a few high quality directories, there are other means of producing quality backlinks for your website.

    Direct Exposure

    First off, you need to pay attention to the type of directory listing you will be submitting content to.

    Since Google Penguin has wreaked havoc and taken down low-quality directories, the type you have in mind may no longer enable you to appear on Google’s radar.

    There are paid directories and free directories.

    Many of the paid directories took a huge hit when Google Penguin started demoting sites it regarded as spammy link farms.

    When you choose a directory to get linked from, try to ascertain the level of the quality of traffic it provides.

    Niche Directories: Rank vs. Relevance

    Choosing among directory listings that have high authority can still be helpful (as long as it’s not a repurposed site as part of a private blog network).

    However, as a result of recent developments in search technology, relevance trumps general directories and general guest blogging opportunities, especially if you’re gunning for targeted traffic.

    That’s why it’s important to reiterate the value of posting content on niche directories; because no matter how high the PR of a directory, if you don’t get the attention of the right kind of customers or audience for your content or business, your efforts will have been wasted.

    And there’s also the risk that you’ll earn a penalty from Google.

    Be sure to choose niche directories, or directories that are relevant to your site. And before finalizing your choice of directories where you will post your directory links, check their history as well as authoritative reviews of their performance.

    Deep Linking

    Many newbie marketers commit the mistake of linking only to their site’s homepage.

    You will ultimately want to take advantage of deep linking, however.

    Deep linking refers to the use of specific keywords as anchor texts linked to specific pages on your site that are relevant to those keywords.

    This is important because Google has been taking variations into consideration. Deep linking also helps individual pages on your site to rank highly in search.

    Local Businesses

    Local companies have perhaps the most to gain from building links from local business directories.

    These types of local link citations help to enhance your exposure in the local 3-pack in Google Maps and can service to get you targeted leads from the clients in closest geographic proximity to your business.

    So whether your run a laundromat or a local legal practice, look to local link opportunities from directories first.

    How to Assess the Quality of a Directory Site

    We take a similar approach to quality assessment in directory link building as we do in assessing guest blogging services.

    We utilize a number of third-party tools and applications to determine whether a given site is worthy of a business listings to ours or our clients’ websites.

    Trust Flow / Citation Flow (Majestic)

    Trust Flow and Citation Flow are link analysis SEO metrics to assess the quality and authority of a website or webpage. They were developed by Majestic.

    Trust Flow and Citation Flow Graph

    Citation Flow (CF) measures the quantity of links pointing to a particular webpage or website. It counts the number of backlinks and evaluates the link equity or influence flowing through those links. Essentially, it gauges the popularity or visibility of a webpage based on the number of citations it has received. However, Citation Flow alone does not consider the quality or trustworthiness of the sources linking to the webpage.

    Trust Flow (TF), on the other hand, focuses on the quality and trustworthiness of the backlinks. It evaluates the reliability and authority of the websites linking to a webpage. Trust Flow is based on a seed set of trusted websites and considers how closely linked a particular webpage is to those trustworthy sources. It measures the distance from the seed sites and assigns a score accordingly. A higher Trust Flow score indicates a higher level of trust and authority.

    In summary, Citation Flow measures the quantity of links, while Trust Flow measures the quality and trustworthiness of those links. Both metrics are useful for analyzing the link profile and authority of a webpage or website.

    The types of directory you chose matters.

    Comparing a web directory’s trust flow and citation flow with other niche directories can help you come up with an assessment of quality.

    Moz DA and Ahrefs DR

    Moz DA (Domain Authority) and Ahrefs DR (Domain Rating) are both popular metrics used in SEO to assess the authority and quality of a domain (and, in this case, a web directory).

    While they serve a similar purpose, there are some differences in how they are calculated and what factors they consider in determining whether a directory site is worth its weight.

    How it’s measured

    Moz DA: Moz Domain Authority is calculated using a machine learning algorithm that analyzes various factors, including the quantity and quality of backlinks, website structure, social signals, and more. Moz DA considers various factors beyond backlinks, including social signals and website structure, to calculate domain authority.
    Ahrefs DR: Ahrefs Domain Rating is calculated based on the backlink profile of a domain, including the number of referring domains, the quality of those domains, and the strength of the backlinks. Ahrefs primarily uses backlinks as its indicator of choice.

    Both are logarithmic measures. That is, every single increase in scale represents a 10x increase in relative weight and authority.

    Ahrefs referring domains

    A note on the third party nature of SEO tools

    It’s important to note that Majestic, Moz DA and Ahrefs DR are proprietary third-party metrics (not something developed by Google directly).

    While they can provide insights into a domain’s authority, they should be used as relative indicators rather than absolute measures. It’s also worth mentioning that these metrics may have variations and discrepancies due to differences in data sources, algorithms, and the constantly evolving nature of the web. Therefore, it’s recommended to use them in conjunction with other direct metrics and perform a comprehensive analysis when evaluating domain authority.

    What Directories are “Safe” for Link Building?

    The relative safety of a publisher or directory site is a moving target.

    What could be quality today, could represent a blacklisted directory tomorrow.

    However, the following online directories are likely a good place to diversify your link portfolio by acquiring some link equity from sites that have high relative metrics considering the points we have discussed above.


    While many of the traditional means of web directory link building services have been devalued, there are still some benefits to be enjoyed from directory submissions.

    Quality and relevance are key to gaining highly targeted traffic that could translate into better conversion opportunities for your business.

    My personal take on directory link building:

    The 90’s called and they want their SEO strategies back.

    But seriously, this link building strategy, while not dead, should represent a VERY small sliver of your overall focus for quality link acquisition.

    for effective link-building services for your business or even white label link building for your agency?

    Contact us for more information.


    Chief Marketing Officer at SEO Company
    In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International. As a technical SEO strategist, Sam leads all paid and organic operations teams for client SEO services, link building services and white label SEO partnerships. He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building. Connect with Sam on Linkedin.
    Samuel Edwards