To answer this question let’s take the well-worn analogy of linking on the Internet being akin to a popularity contest. When somebody links to your site this is considered a vote for your website. It’s the other website saying “I like you and think you are worthwhile and valuable”. They’re being your friend.
And, as my mother once explained to me, you can’t buy friends. In Internet rankings and link popularity this does prove, to a large degree, to be true; but not entirely.
For instance take the case of Yahoo. Technically no one can buy a listing on Yahoo unless it is under the “sponsored” section. But you can pay Yahoo to look at your website and decide whether or not to list it. Is this buying a link? Perhaps. Especially if they like your site and list it well. But let’s forget about Yahoo. That’s a unique case.
Paid directories are often a scam and a waste of money. A way of finding out if a directory which requires a payment to be listed is a “bad neighborhood” (meaning the bigger search engines consider this directory and the listings it contains as spam) is to check its Page Rank in Google. If it has no rank at all or shows a gray bar in the Page Rank line stay away. That listing will do you no good at all.
Even if a paid directory looks good and is accepted as a qualified link today in the next upgrade of their indexing programs the search engines will probably discount them.
If a directory requires a reciprocal link don’t bother with them. The job of a directory is to collect and organize links to worthwhile sites on the Internet and then advertise themselves as a great searchable tool for others to find those sites. You can link to that directory if you feel it will benefit you, your rankings or your visitors. Otherwise ignore them.
One exception to this rule on paid directories applies to those from which you expect to get a lot of traffic. If you are interested in being listed in a regional or profession-specific directory not for the link but for the qualified traffic you expect it to produce go ahead and buy the link. Just be sure you have some sort of tracking in place so you can be sure it’s worth the money.
On the whole the directories on the Internet in which you want to get listed are free. You just need to find them and go through the work of submission. There are over a thousand such directories. You can search through and find these and submit your website yourself or you can hire an SEO company, such as ours, to do these submissions for you.
In the next article I’ll be covering some important things you need to know when doing the actual submissions to these directories. How you do the submissions will have a huge affect on how well the links are indexed and how much value those links will actual offer in terms of search engine optimization.
By: → Meridith Berk