• Directory Journal

The Difference Between Paid Web Directory Submissions and Paid Links

by Jennifer Mattern on April 11, 2013 · 2 comments

in Directory Industry News

Credit: DepositPhotos.com

Credit: DepositPhotos.com

Have you thought about submitting your website to premium Web directories that charge a submission fee, but you’re concerned about paying for links? That concern might be misplaced.

Let’s look at the problem associated with paid links to your website, and whether or not premium Web directory submissions fall into that group.

Why Paid Links Are a Problem for Site Owners

Technically, as long as any links you buy or sell are completely disclosed to your audience, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. They’re simply a form of advertising.

That said, Google — the self-appointed “Internet police” — have a problem with buying and selling links, and doing so risks having your site penalized in their search engine. Why do they go after paid links?

  1. They choose to factor links into ranking algorithms.
  2. They can’t adequately differentiate paid links from unpaid links (meaning paid links can impact their search results rankings). They expect all site owners to alter their code in a way that prevents them from giving equal value to paid links. This is something not all site owners are willing to do (and understandably so), and more importantly it’s something many people don’t even know how to do. While most readers here are probably savvy enough to understand nofollow, many new bloggers and small business site owners are not yet.
  3. Apparently they only find it acceptable for payments to impact SERP visibility when they’re getting a cut (like the ads at the top of the page, or paid inclusion into their shopping search results). This is a major pet peeve of mine if you can’t tell.

So where do premium directory submissions fall in all of this?

Are Paid Web Directory Submissions the Same Thing as Paid Links?

web directory reviews

Premium directory payments should be about the review process, not a paid link. – Credit: DepositPhotos.com

In general, no, a paid Web directory submission is not the same as buying a paid text link advertisement. That’s because the payment isn’t technically for a link. It’s for the time a directory owner (or their editors) have to spend reviewing those submitted sites, entering them into the system, and tweaking or writing up site details.

They might also periodically have to review each submission to make sure each site is still active. If a site is offline, the content has dramatically changed to something less appropriate, or the site simply isn’t in the same niche anymore, the directory owner or editor might then have to remove them or edit the listing. That’s why some directories charge yearly review fees.

The difference is that you’re paying for a service rather than a link. But that said, not all premium directories fall into this category, so it’s best to stick with ones you know are reputable. If a directory owner approves just about every link submitted and they publish everything exactly as you submit it (SEO’d to death site descriptions and all), there really aren’t serious editorial standards in place. In that case, you very well might just be paying for a link. Google even admits they differentiate between these, what Matt Cutts calls “fly by night,” directories and higher quality directories with higher editorial standards.

Do you choose to submit your websites to premium Web directories? If so, how do you decide which directories are worth the submission fee, and which ones might be little more than glorified paid link schemes? Tell us in the comments.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

matt May 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I can honestly say that our SEO agency has been finding paid directories to be a good supplement to our strategy in 2012/13. Common opinion is that directories are no longer worth it but we often see good increases in ranking and depending on the directory a trickle of relevant trafic. The key is cherry picking directories.

There is no point in mass submitting anymore, five manually reviewed paid directories with a proper review process are worth more than 5,000 mass submitted free directories. There are some really good directories out there like flysby.com and clora.net with are not very expensive but give proper editorial treatment to submissions.

You can’t rely on directories like back in 2002-6 but they certainly play a part in exposing your site and showing that you are a trusted website in the eyes of trusted directories.

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Bobby May 28, 2013 at 4:03 pm

So flysby.com has a total of 5 paid links on it and clora.net has around 150 sites listed. Not the best examples of directories.

I hesitate to list my website on here until I have worked out whether google intend to penalise evrey directory

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