Link Building 101: How to Evaluate the Power of Directories

As previously mentioned in part 1 of this series, it's extremely important to be able to evaluate the power of a directory for link building. Especially when you consider that the power of a directory listing is much more complicated than just looking at the PR of the directory homepage.

Hence, the goal of this post is to train the average SEO enthusiast how to quickly and effectively evaluate the power of general directories through link analysis and evaluation. The post is going to focus on the power of general directories because they are much more prevalent than niche directories; which obviously are powerful if your in the same niche. At the end of the day, there are hundreds of directories (both paid and free) that you can submit too, so you need to know how to quickly evaluate the power of these directories in order to make the most out of your time and money. Efficiency is key!

Without much further ado, here's a list of the 7 most important criteria to look for when evaluating the power of general directories:

1.) Check the PR of the directory: Although PR isn't everything; this is hands-down the fastest and easiest way to judge the power of any directory. As a general rule of thumb, any directory at PR 5 or above has good authority, while anything below a PR 3 has low authority.

2.) Check whether domain ranks in Google: This important test identifies if the directory has been penalized by Google. Simply go to Google and type in the directory domain name (without spaces); they should appear #1 unless the domain is targeting highly competitive keywords (should still be on first page). If they don't appear at all and Google suggests a different search term, then they have been penalized by Google.

3.) Indexability and last time cached: This quick check-up is to determine how often the Google bots are indexing the sub-page's content. Just go to Google, and enter a cache query (cache: For a directory sub-page, a good cache date would be within 1-2 weeks, but no longer than 1 month. A higher frequency of cache dates indicate that the site is more powerful and authoritative.

4.) Number (and quality) of inbound links: Is a fairly simple measure of the overall power and authority associated with the directory. The higher the better. Being listed in DMOZ wouldn't hurt either 🙂

5.) Number of outbound links and PR of sub-pages: When choosing a category to submit too, relevancy is the most important factor to consider. But oftentimes, a submission could go in several categories. In these cases, in order to choose the best sub-page or category to submit too, you need to look at the sub-page's PR and also the number of outbound links. One of the most telling signs of an authority directory is if they have PR sub-pages, because Google loves to take the second level PR away from directories.

So, if you find a directory sub-page of PR 3 or higher: the directory is carrying a good amount of power, authority and Google credibility. The second point to consider is the number of outbound links on the sub-page. In many cases there will be so many listings that you won't even get on the first sub-page of your selected category. You need to keep this in mind when deciding which category to submit too. You want to submit to the sub-page that has a low number of outbound links to ensure that your link gets the most link juice available.

6.) Does the directory have sitewide links in Google?: When you search for the directory's domain name do they have sitewide links under their listing? If yes, this signifies that the directory has high authority in Google's eyes.


7.) Check appearances at public events and industry conventions: The theory behind this test is simple; if the directory owners can afford to advertise in key industry events (SES and SMX for example) then they obviously have a long-term strategy and are an authority. Obviously this rule isn't set in stone, but being at these events is a pretty clear indication of a powerful directory.

There's also one more test, but it takes more time as it's a bit more advanced because it can be time intensive. The anchor text test is a great way to determine the power of a directory by measuring the link juice that the directory passes on to your anchor text. Here's how to execute the anchor text text:

- First you need to find a unique anchor text within a sub-category (that isn't mentioned on the site's homepage)

- Next, check to see how that site ranks for that specific keyword(s) in the SERP's

This test doesn't take into consideration the other link building efforts of the client, but it is an effective way to attempt to measure the link juice being sent from the directory to your site (or client's site). The hardest part is finding the unique anchor text, because most of these anchors would most likely be targeting their site's competitive keywords, which would be mentioned on the homepage. But this isn't always the case, hence why the anchor text test can be very useful when you are trying to gauge the power of a link within a directory.

Another thing to keep in mind with the power of directory submissions is the featured listing or premiere listing option that enables your listing to be placed at the top of your desired sub-category for some extra dough. Is it worth it? Personally, I don't see much value in these type of listings unless the sub-page has PR and a lot of outbound links. In this case, a regular submission wouldn't get you on the first page of the category, so it would be worth paying an extra $20 or so because without it, your link won't be getting the same "juice" as it would be if placed on that desired subpage with PR.

Remember to keep this quick checklist in mind when considering which directories to submit too, and also be sure to check out the last part of this series which will cover potential downfalls and other mistakes to avoid when making directory submissions.

Posted in SEO

About the Author: Paul Teitelman

I'm a SEO Manager here at SEP and am responsible for overseeing the organic ranking of clients for their major keywords. When I'm not in front of computers my main passions are drumming, hockey and hanging out up north at my cottage in Muskoka.

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