Do Directory Backlinks Hurt Your SEO?


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We’re living in 2020. We can land on the moon, clone camels, and are more advanced as a society than ever before. But at the same time, I still see people building directory backlinks to their websites and expecting it to boost their Google rankings. In reality it is much more likely to hurt their SEO.

Does this sound like you? If so, keep reading, because I am going to help you get out of the Stone Age of link-building. In this article, I will explore why you should avoid building links from directories and why these are massive risks for your website. I will also teach you what other approaches you should be using for link building to your website.

Why You Shouldn’t Build Links from Directories

#1 It Is A Google Penalty Waiting To Happen

The first thing about directory backlinks is that using them goes against Google’s webmaster guidelines. In the link schemes document that has been created for website owners, Google specifically says that if you build links from low-quality directories, you could receive a penalty. This means that using any directory to build links is a massive risk.

#2 You Will Get Caught

Another problem with directory backlinks is that you might potentially take an algorithmic hit and receive a manual penalty. Basically, you’re gambling on the future of your website by building low-quality directory links. This is definitely not something I recommend to you, or any of my clients.

Instead, there are much better ways to get backlinks to your website, which I will explain later in this article. Not only will directory links not move the needle for your website, but they could also harm your website and damage your backlink profile.

This is something you definitely want to avoid, because when you build backlinks from directories, you’re not going to boost your rankings. You could actually deflate them and cause a harsh algorithm penalty, simply because you’re breaking Google’s webmaster guidelines.

If you are getting links from directories, just imagine all the other dodgy and spammy websites that are getting links from directories too. Because this is such an outdated link building method, the only types of websites that actually use them these days days are very spammy, low-quality websites, that are building very poor backlink profiles.

#3 Spammy Link Neighborhood Will Destroy Your Website’s Authority

If you get a link from directories, you’re also in the same category as websites that are posting about Viagra, casinos, and adult websites. As a result, your website will become associated with these websites. Simply because you’re getting links from the same business directories online.

#4 Spamming The Internet

Not only is this breaking Google’s webmaster guidelines and potentially harming your website, but your backlink profile is going to appear guilty by association. Just because you’re getting links from the same directories that other low-quality websites are getting links from too.

#5 Nofollow Links Are Useless Anyway

Another big problem with business directories online is that if you get links from them, they are usually low follow. There’s a REL equals nofollow tag in the code of your backlink. What this means is that no link juice is passed from that website to yours.

If you’re building links for SEO, you definitely don’t want nofollow links because they will not benefit your website. Nor will they boost your rankings, or pass any authority or link juice to your website, which means you’re simply wasting your time.

Business Directories Are Outdated

If you didn’t realize this already, no one really uses business directories anymore, because they’re out of fashion. Between 1990 and 2005 people were using business directories online because they were a great way to find other businesses.

But these days, most people use social media, and they’re using Google Maps. If you’re expecting any sort of referral traffic from a business directory, chances are that you’re going to be disappointed. If you consider the next 5 or 10 years, it is highly likely that business directories are going to be dead.

While a website like Yelp is pretty popular, they are essentially outliers. Aside from Yelp and other similar websites, you are wasting your time expecting referral traffic from these sorts of directories. Over time, the traffic for business directories is only going to go downwards.

Paying For The Link

Additionally, if you’re getting links from directories, chances are you’re probably going to be paying for the link, because it’s kind of like an advertisement. The website is harnessing its audience so that you can get more exposure to your brand. Most of the time, you’re going to be paying for that opportunity.

If you’re paying for them, you have to make sure that the page you’re getting a link from actually gets a decent amount of organic traffic. If it doesn’t, it’s likely that only a small percentage of people that visit that page are actually going to click through to your website.

If you pay for a spot on that page, and you haven’t even checked the organic traffic, it is unlikely that you will get any referrals. This is a huge waste of your time. I know that sounds brutal, but it’s much better to be realistic about your expectations when it comes to directory links.

As I have explained in this article, backlinks to directories for SEO are pretty well pointless. It is also pointless when it comes to referral traffic. Either way, building links from directories is a waste of time, and there are much better ways to do it.

You’re probably thinking right now, “Julian, you’ve slagged off business directories, but what’s the solution?

Well, I would tell you the same thing that I recommend to all my link building clients; you should focus on natural editorial links.

Natural Editorial Links

If there’s no editorial process in adding the link, e.g. the webmaster has to go in and add it themselves manually, that link probably isn’t worth very much. If you’re getting links from directories, they’re usually automated, or you do it through a website form that is an automated process.

What this means is that there’s no editorial process in place to check the quality of the link. As a result of this, any website on the internet, whether they’re low quality, spammy, or in some other sort of dodgy industry, can get a link from that directory. This is something you want to avoid.

Instead, I recommend using something like Haro, or the Skyscraper Technique. These are both powerful ways to get high-quality links to your website, that involve an editorial process.

When you use these link building strategies, the links you’re going to get will be more authoritative, relevant, and high quality. As a result of this your website will benefit much more in the long run by getting more traffic and higher rankings.

If you want tips on exactly how to do that, make sure you check out my link building outreach playlist on YouTube. This will give you some tutorials on exactly how to build powerful links that actually boost your website’s authority.

Julian Goldie

Julian Goldie

Hey, I'm Julian Goldie! I'm an SEO link builder and founder of Goldie Agency. My mission is to help website owners like you grow your business with SEO!


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