2019 has barely started, yet the predictions of Voice Search, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence pollute most marketing/advertising publications.
It’s amazing how much attention these things get by business owners, looking eagerly into the future whilst they’ve neglected the basics.
Those basics being their branding, their website, their online marketing, etc – which the vast majority of businesses here in Australia don’t have ironed out.
Yet they want to know more about these new technologies that are barely even around, let alone matured, advertiser-friendly medium ready to be capitalised on.
And much could be said for SEOs, always looking for the next big link-building hack that will send them flying up the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) when they don’t have their link-building basics down-pat yet.
Back To Basics
Directory links are typically the first backlinks you will obtain either for yourself or for a client.
They’re the quickest and easiest way to build up some domain authority along with giving Google some consistent information regarding your business Name, Address and Phone number (commonly referred to as NAP information).
The thing is; no one seems to treat this initial phase with much respect.
As if it’s that annoying first task you have to get out of the way before you get to the “real backlink strategy”.
Done quickly and out of the way as quickly and with minimal effort as possible.
Directory Links Are Golden
Most of these ‘advanced backlink strategies’ used by agencies are Public Blog Networks (PBNs).
PBNs are basically websites that are devoted to creating content for the purpose of providing links to those willing to pay.
They’re not real websites. They’re not genuine references to your business. They’re not something that Google wants you to do.
Building directory backlinks, however, is always a safe and reliable source of links that Google will never punish you for.
Even before the purpose of directories became primarily for SEO purposes, every new business would go and list themselves in every free website that they could in order to increase their reach and exposure.
So, building as many directory listings as possible is highly encouraged.
But they need to be done right.
What Most Agencies Do
And look, I used to do this too.
They basically prepare 3 or 4 different variations of descriptions for ALL of the directories that they plan to submit to.
These descriptions would all be around 30-50 words long, which isn’t long enough.
But it used to work just fine.
And it was a more efficient use of time.
However, as time has gone past and Google’s algorithm continues to mature, I’ve noticed that directory listings just didn’t have the impact that they used to.
Until I tried something different…
Make the content all directory descriptions lengthier, with each listing’s content being completely unique.
A directory link like this one below on TrueLocal for PWA Electrical Services will never run foul of Google’s algorithm.
This directory listing is filled out extensively with content that you won’t find on any other directory listing or on the PWA Electrical Services website.
Google hates duplicate content.
I’m sure you’ve done a search of some sort where you find yourself scrolling deeper into the search results, looking for something specific, and have seen this message in the SERP.
What lays beyond here is basically useless and discredited content, in Google’s eyes.
Which is where some of your directory listings will live if you’re going around, copying and pasting the same descriptions into all of the directories that you fill out.
In other words, if a directory listing of yours lives in they beyond (Google’s omitted results) then the link you’ve obtained from that directory listing is basically worthless.
This is why, despite working with an SEO agency, Advanced Plumbing and Gas in Brisbane didn’t have much luck strengthening their backlink profile when they had the same content across all of their directory listings.
You can tell this agency has at least tried as the content above is actually quite good. But as you will see in the listing shown below – the content has been copied and pasted in the next directory listing (among all the other listings that this agency built).
Despite having filled out a lot of directory listing, this agency wasted their time trying to fill it these directories out and wasted an opportunity for their client to capitalise on the full (or any) value of these directory listings.
It’s a shame. Simple mistakes like this are committed by even some of the biggest agencies and it costs results.
It would have been better (although still not ideal) if they had a significantly lower word-count in their directory listings but at least made them unique descriptions.
Content That Makes Sense
There is no quick and easy (lazy) way to produce unique content on your directory listings.
So tools like content-spinners are not recommended – unless you’re okay with your content being at this level of quality:
Believe it or not, Google can actually read what’s written in the description of your directory listings.
And if Google can read lengthy, unique and highly relevant content about your website, it’s going to be a far more relevant (and powerful) link back to your website than the gibberish shown in the listing above.
Writing not just unique content but trying to write lengthy content is the key to supercharging these directory listings.
See, every page in Google has a “theme”.
It’s a way to roughly know what category this content sits in.
It’s how Google figures out if content is relevant to electricians, to plumbers, to lawyers and so on.
By default, any page on a directory listing is going to fall in the “business directory” theme.
But if you can really bulk out the content on your listing’s page, you’re going to end up making the majority of the content on that page more relevant to your business and your industry.
That makes the link a lot more relevant to your business.
Meaning that you’ll have more relevant, industry related links pointing to your site if you can fill these directory listings out properly.
A Big Time Investment
Yes, this will suck up a lot of your time filling out directories.
Especially if you’re not the writing type.
But the directory listings are your backlink profile’s concrete slab.
It doesn’t matter what quality of bricks, plaster or roof tiles you have on top of that concrete slab, if it’s not strong, the whole house isn’t going to hold up very well.
So, invest the time or pay a copywriter to come up with multiple variations of lengthy and unique directory listing content.
Because it will be one of the best investments that you make in your long-term SEO strategy.
As Always, Take Security Seriously
As with anything that you do online, you always need to consider your security.
A couple of things I typically do is:
- Use a separate e-mail account specifically for link-building to avoid your regular e-mails being bombarded with spam
- Ensure your link-building e-mail has a password that is different to your regular e-mail addresses
- When registering to directories, have a separate password for each one
Unfortunately, some of these less reputable directory websites get hacked or taken over and the information on those profiles can become compromised.
And because people tend to use the same or similar passwords for everything, attackers are able to use those passwords to gain access to your other online assets, doing damage or holding them ransom.
Keep Everything Recorded
It’s always handy to keep a spreadsheet of every website that you’ve submitted your business to along with the username, passwords and description that you’ve used for that directory.
That way, if you ever need to go back in and update anything you’ve got everything on hand to make life easy for yourself.