In the early days of the internet, directories were king. This was of course, before the likes of Google and Bing, but do online directories still have a use? We discuss.

In the 21st Century, many, including Google, claim having your website listed on a directory is bad for your website’s ranking in search results. This, they claim, is because of their connection with spam and junk websites. They say it can make you guilty by association and cause search engines to consider your website spammy and junk too.#teamorganicFAQs – Should I register my business to online directories

While it’s true there are directories that can harm your website’s standing, there are safe places out there, one of the best being a Google product!

Google My Business

Google My Business is a way of capturing all your business information in one place by utilising Google products such as Search, Google Maps (by verifying your business address with Google) and Google+. As you can imagine, being listed on Google My Business can give your website even more opportunity to be seen and trusted in Google search results. It’s free to register and can greatly contribute to your SEO efforts.

Other suggested directories

If you’ve already registered with Google My Business, look into the likes of Bing Places, Yahoo!, Yelp, FOURSQUARE, Yell and TripAdvisor, and see if their services will benefit your website.

Some services do require a fee so make sure you read the terms before signing up.

Directories to avoid

It may be strange for Google to offer a directory service while claiming directories are bad for business. So what type of directories are Google talking about?

Though we’re not in the business of naming and shaming, we can confidently give you a few pointers when deciding whether to sign up or not.

  • Advert overload

If the web directory you’re looking at is filled with banner ads or popups this isn’t a good sign. Not only can this be flagged as spammy to the likes of Google but it can also mean slow loading times for the website, effecting user experience. Not the sort of website you’d want your business to be associated with.

  • Outdated website

If the website layout and design looks dated, that’s probably because it is. Looking for the website’s copyright date, latest blog post or social media updates (if available) can help confirm this. Linking to a dead website isn’t going to help you at all.

  • Email Campaign Web Directory Offers

We’ve all had those sales emails offering services or promising results for a fee. You can investigate these websites but make sure you know what you’re getting before signing up. If a web directory resource is any good, then an email campaign is probably not needed.

  • Advertisement Package Web Directory

Examples of this can be seen in more niche markets such as wedding catering services. You’ll be promised a place on their directory with additional advert placements on their website, newsletter emails etc. all for a fee. Research the website and request a media pack if not available on the website. Make sure you’re happy you’d get value for money before you sign up to these type of websites.

Directories should only be part of the plan

Signing up to safe directories should only be a small part of your overall digital marketing and SEO plan. If you’re being advised to get more links back to your website to help ranking, then look into things like guest blogging or providing industry information to related online publications.

Having genuine, high quality links back to your website will arguably put it in a better position than just signing up to web directories, so make sure it’s only a small part of your strategy.

Have you had leads through because of signing up to a directory? Let us know in the comments.

Phil is the Digital Account Manager for Team Organic. With a background in business banking and a passion for Social Media he takes his job seriously with a cheeky smile on his face!