Matt Cutts Answers Questions About Directories and Ranking

Editorial Value Matters

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As you may know, Google’s Matt Cutts frequently answers questions from Google users on the Google Webmaster Central YouTube channel. There are a couple recent ones in which he addresses questions about directories and how they contribute to a site’s rankings.

The first question is:

Will Google consider Yahoo! Directory and BOTW (Best of the Web) as sources of paid links? If no, why is this different from another site that sells links?

When Google looks at whether or not a directory is useful to users, Google looks at: 

- What is the value-add?

– Do they go out and find entries on their own or do they only wait for people to come to them?

– How much do they charge?

– What is the editorial service that’s being charged?

"If a directory takes $50 and every single person who ever applies in the directory automatically gets in for that $50, there’s not as much editorial oversight as something like the Yahoo! Directory, where people do get rejected,"  says Cutts. "So if there is no editorial value-add there, then that is much closer to paid links."

The second question is:

We sell a software product, and there are 100s of software download directories on the web of varying quality. Could submitting our product to all of them hurt our rankings or domain trust/authority?

Answering this question, Cutts makes it clear that they are only talking about a software product ( .exe file), and not a website. "If it’s only a software product, then I wouldn’t really worry about it," he says. It wouldn’t hurt your website to have a link from those directories, he says.

If the directories are low quality, Google tries not to score them highly, but it doesn’t hurt to have your software listed in them.

Matt Cutts Answers Questions About Directories and Ranking
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  • http://www.ayumusoft.com Ayumusoft

    I have always heard that Yahoo and Alltheweb are good places to submit sites, but it is great to have that confirmation from Matt.

  • http://www.wordsmithwritingservices.co.in wordsmith

    Technicalities given by Matt for not submitting the website to fly by night directories was helpful. I will be more careful in future.

  • http://www.seekzap.com Seekzap

    I run a directory and couldn’t be happier that Matt made these statements; we work hard to deliver value for both our visitors and the site owners submitting their site to us

  • http://www.wsiseoexpert.com SEO Management Norfolk

    We haven’t really focused on directory submissions because it always seemed too black hat. I just don’t know why submitting to 500 different directories is a good thing. It makes more sense to share information through social media sources and article/PR directories. At least you are contributing to the web that way.

  • http://www.udjuni.com Simon

    This is very good information. I am however hesitant to restrict myself into fitting one search engine algorithm. The number of competitors entering this market is growing. They all use different ranking algorithms.

    If directory submissions is going to help you generate traffic to your site then go for it, I am personally hesitant to use anybody that charges a fee for listing when results can not be guaranteed. So I do my home homework and rely on DIY site promotion and SEO.

  • http://www.smsnmessages.com Mobile SMS

    Matt is absoultely right, it doesnot hurt to be in there but there is still a question about the worth of the directories of are they worth it.

  • http://www.goairtickets.in Puja Bhat

    This is really beautiful blog post.

    Thank You

  • http://www.getafreelancer.com Mark

    Great post, very useful information. I’ve always said directories are a great “starting” point for off-page but you need to build a quality list and the best way to do that is by using Google itself.

  • http://www.site-booster.com Targeted Traffic

    It’s interesting to see that one link from a major approved source like Yahoo Directory is much more worth than 100s of other directories that aren’t equally important to Google.

    Of course, you can even get 1000s of directory backlinks for a fee usually less than Yahoo’s fee ($299).

  • http://www.squidoo.com/theclickbankprofitsystemreview Clickbank Profit System

    I thought that submitting to any directory would be alright. Through your report I found out that the quality directories carry more weight in Google. Thanks for your informative report.

  • http://sanfranciscoweb-design.com/ marketingwebs

    Search engines are getting spammed by tons of DIRECTORIES.

    Yohoo Search Example: San Francisco Insurance

    80% of first TWO pages of results are nothing but DIRECTORIES.

    Remember, my search wasn’t for a DIRECTORY…… it was for individual San Francisco Insurance websites/companies.

    If I wanted a localized directory, that’s what my search would have been for: San Francisco Local Directory.

    If the search engines fail to curtail DIRECTORY results…… the public may as well only use directories for localized searches and don’t even bother with Major Search Engines.

    As a web designer/SEO for small businesses in lets say San Francisco or any other city……. you stand little chance of any top rankings since your major search engines have allowed DIRECTORIES to absolutely flood their top ranking search results.

    Don’t get me wrong….. Directories are a good thing…….. but does it make sense for 18 of the first 20 search results to be Directories?

    Search term: San Francisco Car Dealer

    SAME results….. mostly nothing but directories.

    And the list goes on and on…………

    Any opinions?

    • http://www.net-commerce-solutions.co.uk Dave Abernethy

      As a user , I also find it frustrating to find so many directories in the first pages of Google et al. when what I want is the service or product provider site.

      Why should we use the main search engines if ‘all’ they deliver is directory ‘rubbish’. We might as well go to a competitor directory first? So I would have thought it is also in Yahoo/Bing/Google’s self interest to eliminate other directories unless searched for explicitly.

      From an SEO viewpoint it is getting more difficult for ordinary companies to compete against directories – especially when their content frankly is a bit SPAMMY – lots of keyword repetition which would look even more stupid for a non-directory.

      So PLEASE Mr Search Engine(s) – remove directories for everybody else’s benefit

      • http://www.laokay.com Steve

        We run lots of directory sites and feel that your comment is uncalled for as a general statement.

        If you were looking for a specific term that would be found in a directory (Dentists in Atlanta, Georgia for example), it’s quite obvious you are looking for a list.

        So what I got from your comment was that you’d like to see Google show their directory results first (yes, google has a business directory) and then put everybody else’s results after, but not another directory site (locking out every other directory site from the search results on purpose?). I mean after all the reverse would be that I was looking for a directory site and couldn’t find one because I was flooded with posts about dental techniques and dental this and dental that and couldn’t find the nearest dentists to me by just Google a term that should give me directory site results.

        Perhaps to solve your problem Google will have buttons so that you can omit certain types of sites out of your search results for the keywords you are looking for rather than killing them. Because after all, Google gets all it’s data from sites like ours so they’ll never cut off the hand that feeds them information.

        Now I know there are a lot of “black hat” stuff that a lot of directory sites are doing (which we do not), and I would agree if Google found a site using “blat hat” methods, they should ban them from the directory, or at least not favor it in the results.

  • http://www.blindacre.com BlindAcreMedia

    This is really great information. It doesn’t always help you to post your link to hundreds of sites..let alone directories. Think of how many competitors are also swarming these sites. Find sites that compliment your business.

  • http://www.drive-wipe.com/ drive wipe

    This is really a very good information for the beginners like us.

  • http://www.stripeyhorsecreative.com/branding_design_1.html designers birmingham

    Great post. Good to know its still worth getting involved with some directories.

  • http://www.increasing-traffic.com Guest

    Matt Cutts didn’t really address the question the way I hoped he would. He mentioned Yahoo – which of course we know will help link value. But what about BOTW and dozens of others like it – does google LIKE them… does Google plan to “crack down” on them… Should I submit to sites that offer an editorial review fee? He dodges the main point.

  • http://web2marrakech.com web2marrakech.com

    Great article on PR, Everything explained neatly. Thanks for this wonderfull article.

  • http://www.thesocialfirm.com Steve

    Directories are great starting point but you do need a quality list. It is interesting to figure out which links are worth more than others.

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