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August 27, 2009

Top 3 Problems with Directories

Directories have existed since the early days of the Internet, even before Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web. Originally, search directories and word-of-mouth were the only ways to learn about new websites. Google changed that! Today, search directories are used to build links into websites. But, by default, search directories have three major problems.

Problem #1: The Moving Target

Search directories use one of several methods to display their inventory. The following list is a short representation of how the inventory is presented to visitors and search engine spiders.

First In First Out (FIFO) – as the name describes listings are displayed in the order in which they are submitted. This method is good for the early listings. As more listings are added to the category, the number of pages in the category increases. This decreases the value of the category to both the owner and the company desiring to submit its site.

Last In First Out (LIFO) – as the name describes listings are displayed with the first submissions appearing last. This method is good for the later listings, but who wants to be first when they’re going to show up last? As with FIFO, the number of pages in the category increases.

Alpha-Numeric – company names or keywords receive the earliest listings. As new listings are approved those listings could easily move one’s listing to oblivion.

Votes – unlike government election, presenting the inventory based upon votes is extremely biased and ballot stuffing can occur. As others come in, submit themselves, and add their votes one’s listing can easily fall to other pages.

Page Rank (PR) Values – Page Rank values adjust based upon numerous factors and an algorithm controlled solely by Google. One’s PR value could be a five today and tomorrow it could be a three. On the other hand, one’s PR value could increase. However, as PR values fluctuate so do the positions of the listings.

Problem #2: Rel=NoFollow

Over the years, search engine optimization (SEO) consultants have suggested using the online yellow pages to build quality links into one’s website. This thought was based upon the idea that online yellow pages were authority sites. Whether that still holds true today is debatable.

What isn’t debatable is the online yellow pages use rel=nofollow to tell the search engines to not count the links for search engine placements. With prices ranging from $100 to $300 per month, the expense of getting a link from the online yellow pages is really worth paying. One may determine that a listing in the online yellow pages will result in leads coming to one’s business.

Other directories use the rel=nofollow, as well.

How do the search engines use rel=nofollow? According to WikiPedia (, Google ignores the link and therefore the link does not count in the search placement algorithm or in determining PR values. Yahoo follows the link, but does not use it to determine search placements. Bing provides no indication if it follows link with the rel=nofollow attribute, however it does not use the link in determining relevancy.

Problem #3: Limited Marketing Capabilities

Most search directories provide a link to one’s website. Some search directories list one’s link in multiple categories. Still even, some directories allow deep linking (links to internal pages).

Top search engine optimization (SEO) consultants suggest that one should build a natural inbound link profile to one’s website. The natural inbound link profile uses more links to internal web pages than to the homepage. Additionally, the anchor text for the inbound links should be relevant to the linked page.

Search directories by nature allow only links to the homepage. Since the homepage cannot be relevant for every search term available to one’s business, making all inbound links point at the homepage is not plausible. Even if it were, leading your customers to one’s homepage and making them search one’s website for the product or service they want is not user-friendly.

Therefore, traditional search directories provide little or no real value beyond increasing PR values. For this reason, search engines like Google hold little or no regard for search directories.

In Conclusion

The top three problems of search directories do not destroy the ultimate value of search directories. The importance of choosing the right search directory from which to acquire an inbound link cannot be overstated. One should carefully review the search directory before submitting and ensure the directory provides quality links, not just a link.

Lee Roberts, owner of, a SEO friendly directory and Oklahoma SEO friendly business directory. and provide dedicated marketing pages that advertisers can optimize for search engine placement with multiple inbound links to one’s website.