Title graphic for GrowTraffic blog about web directories and SEO

Web directories can be useful for your online presence. They’re also pretty useful for local SEO (more on that later). But when it comes to SEO overall, web directories are not as useful as they once were.

Let us take a quick trip down memory lane to explain…

When Were Web Directories Useful?

Back in the early days of the web (I’m talking about the ’90s, you know, the glorious years of the Spice Girls and Tamagotchi’s), web directories were the way to find what you wanted.

If you wanted people to visit your website, you added it to as many web directories as possible. And as Google (and other search engines) emerged, they considered web directories a pretty important ranking factor.

This led to everyone, everywhere adding their websites to web directories with the hopes of climbing the search engine rankings – even if it meant paying for a web directory submission.

web directories used to be useful

Unfortunately, this also meant that people were no longer using web directories for their intended purpose, but were instead using them to try and manipulate search engines. And so, most web directories became spam-filled pits favoured by naughty black hat SEO folk.

Like everything, search engines evolved – thank God – or Larry Page, whatever floats your boat. As search engines began to prioritise valuable content and user-experience, web directory links slipped way down the list of key ranking factors.

Web Directories and SEO Today

Don’t get us wrong, links are still super important for SEO, but to put it in the words of Google’s John Mueller, web directory links are “generally not” useful for SEO (he said this back in 2017, but we believe it still stands).

So, how are you going to get links if not from web directories?

Backlink building, of course. Link building is crucial for SEO and should be an important part of your SEO strategy. Reaching out to trustworthy, relevant websites and offering to guest blog can lead to valuable backlinks. Plus, make sure your website has a fantastic blog with fresh, relevant content that other people will want to link back to.

However, that’s not to say you should write web directories off altogether. Some web directories will be useful, especially for your local SEO.

Which Web Directories Are Useful?

Quality business directories can help increase the visibility of your website in your local area. This is particularly useful if you have a physical shop, bar or restaurant etc. Here are a few reputable business directories that will be useful for your local SEO:

  • Google My Business – We tell all of our clients to make a Google My Business account! It’s free and so beneficial for your business! Remember to optimise your GMB listing with keywords and key information, such as contact details.
  • Bing Places – Because not everyone uses Google.
  • Yahoo
  • Yellow Pages – ahhhh remember the good old Yellow Pages?! It’s online now!
  • Hotfrog

Google my business

It can also be useful to list your website on niche business directories. For example, if you specialise in garden landscaping, you might choose to list your website on a local home and garden business directory. Top Tip – make sure business directories are reputable and not super spammy.

Useful Strategies For SEO

OK, let’s recap. Web directories are not as useful for SEO as they were once were. And Google no longer considers them to be a key ranking factor. But reputable web directories can be useful for your local SEO and for increasing your traffic.

Rather than prioritising web directories, we would suggest spending your valuable time on other SEO tactics that are sure to get your website ranking on the search engines.

  • Keyword Research – To create a successful SEO campaign, you need to know which keywords and key phrases your target audience are searching for. Once you understand the needs of your target audience, you can create content and optimise your website using keywords.
  • Content Creation – Search engines love fresh content. They want to give the best possible answer to every search query. So, if your website has relevant, interesting content that relates to the search queries of your target audience, search engines will rank it higher. Creating and sharing valuable content can also position your business as an expert in its field. Clients and customers (old and new), will view your business as a trustworthy source of information.
  • Backlink Building – We have already touched on the importance of having quality links to your website, so we won’t ramble on, but if you do want to find out more about link building, head to our blog.
  • On-site Optimisation – Make sure your webpages are optimised for keywords and are user-friendly.

Get In Touch

GrowTraffic is an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Lancashire and Yorkshire. We specialise in SEO, content marketing and social media – but we offer a range of digital marketing services.

If you would like some help with SEO or link building, get in touch with the GrowTraffic team. You can email us on info@growtraffic.co.uk or give us a call 0161 706 0012.

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