Old Hat versus Black Hat: how do they differ?
SEO once relied heavily on directories. Online directories were designed to be the web’s answer to Yellow Pages. They provided users with long lists of links, often categorized for the reader’s ease. These directories boosted the Google ranking of the web pages linked to, as a seemingly unwelcome side effect of listing sites.
As SEO practitioners began to reap the benefits of such directories, bulk submissions of links to them became a standard practice. As enterprising webmasters noticed the profit potential, they set up online directories that appeared to exist for SEO purposes only, with no regard to the user anymore.
This did not sit well with Google. It is now considered black hat SEO to place links on suspiciously spammy online directories. As a result of Google algorithm updates, websites with links coming from bad directories have been penalized, so steer clear of them altogether!
Can an online directory be used occasionally?
But this is heavily dependent on the directory’s quality. Bad online directories may be disliked or discounted by the search engines, but a good one may benefit your website from both a search engine optimization and user perspective.
Do not list your website in a directory without checking its reputation. Google’s Matt Cutts made a video in 2011 where he distinguished between spammy directories (part of so-called “link schemes”) that search engines penalize, and higher-quality ones that search engines respect.
Google and other search engines will normally penalize you if you purchase a link simply for its power. In contrast, a link from a good directory will provide all the benefits of a link from a high-quality website without any of the drawbacks.
Business and local search can be enhanced by online directories
In order to decide whether a link directory is good or bad, we should first examine the areas where directories can be most useful: local search and business. It is still possible to find a particular service on the internet by using online directories, just as people used to use phone books. These directories must be of high quality, however, and should not be made solely for the link juice.
You can capitalize on your online listing if it is posted on a reputable directory. Be sure to include a link to your website, your contact details, and high-quality photos. You can also provide a link to your location on Google maps. In addition, this will strengthen your ranking in your local area and allow visitors to find your business.
Local business listings can be tracked using services such as Moz Local to ensure they have the proper information from different directories. Even existing listings in reputable directories can be claimed by your business. Look for your business on any good directories by Googling it. You can claim it and customize it by contacting the website.