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Google Way or the Highway?

By David | March 20, 2014 | Home | Blog Categories | Articles

Over the last year or so, changes at Google have had a significant impact on the directory industry, so I wanted to discuss a little about what happened and what we can do about it. I know that it is sort of a love/hate relationship between directory owners and Google, but for many Google can’t be easily ignored, but by all means it is also prudent to find ways to be less dependant on Google for traffic and revenue! First we will look at some of the specific actions Google has taken as they pertain to directories. Then we will look at some proactive steps that can be taken by a directory owner.

Forum: Discussion of Google Way or the Highway?

Google’s Updates

Panda - So what Google did with Panda is try to score the quality of text on pages. So for example, if you had a bunch of low quality articles on your site, these would be better detected with Panda. It also can better detect thin or repetitive content. So for a directory owner, accepting submissions of low quality articles could have a negative impact. Also, having a bunch of empty or pre-loaded categories with no content could also be problematic.

Penguin - This algorithm change allowed Google to better find what they deemed to be unnatural linking patterns. So for example, what many “SEO” people did for a long time was sell a service where they would add links to a hundred or more directories for a fixed cost. The problem was that many of the people who used these services were submitting low quality sites, and over time many directories approved such links and the quality of the directory itself suffered.

Disavow Tool - To make matter more challenging Google informed many sites that their links appeared unnatural, and they needed to contact the sites where the links were located and request removal. And further, they provided a tool where a site could list domains or URLs that they wanted to “disavow” which basically means the link will not count “for” or “against” when tabulating pagerank or penalties. There are limited reports that some sites are recovering after using the disavow tool.

Directory Strategies

You need to decide if you want to try to work with the new reality post-Google apocalypse. Do you want your content to rank well with Google? Maybe you want to become less dependent on Google? Or maybe even you want to be as anti-Google as possible! You are running your own business, and ultimately you have to decide what is best for you. There isn’t necessarily a wrong answer, and your specific situation may determine the path you choose.

Anti-Google Path - Maybe your goal is to profit from all the site owners that submitted their site to your directory over the years, many blindly submitting to 100’s or 1000’s of directories without regard for quality. You spent hundreds of hours adding the links, and you don’t feel you should have to work for free to remove requests. We do offer what we call a Link Removal Mod (example - note there are no user submitted links in this directory), and you can request it in our jobs area. Some regard this strategy as unethical, especially in the case of a directory being setup as an Auto Approve Directory. Even in this case, many feel that it should be Google’s responsibility to rank sites, and they owe nothing to Google.

Go Local or Niche - You don’t want to depend on Google anymore to be successful in business, and niche directories or local directories are a good path to pursue in this case (note we are releasing a phpLD Local Version shortly. This strategy involves having a great content in your niche and communicating directly with customers. What many people are doing is developing contact lists where they email people on a regular basis to let them know about updates or deals. Often you can leveredge special offers by vendors with people who would buy from those vendors in the niche. For example, maybe you have a niche site about the Vegan diet with links to Recipe sites, clothing items, places to buy specialty vegan food, and vegan restaurants. You build a list of people who are vegan, and send them emails with updates. You build the traffic, and then you notify vendors about advertising and listing opportunities.

The Google Way - Thinking again about Panda and content, go back and get yourself a Google+ Account and make sure any articles in your directory are of quality and if you wrote them put your name on them (Read about Google Authorship). And if you a bunch of empty categories, get rid of them. Then when it comes to links, if you have thousands of low quality links, get rid of them and start over. If you put anything into quality when you started your directory you may find the links with lower IDs are the better ones, and maybe your review process suffered over time. Then get back to making sure first your homepage is a welcome place that would be interesting to the average person, and then all pages that are one click beyond the homepage continue to deliver excellent content. And you might even take a look at how your directory might benefit from the disavow tool (forum conversation here).


Without a doubt directories got hit hard, but when we get knocked down, we have to get back up! If everything revolved around a search engine (including being against it), there will surely be some unanticipated peaks and valleys. However, there are always ways to interact with real people on the web or even offline and help them to know about your directory, and provide ways they can benefit from your efforts.

Finally, here is a point to ponder…

What question could you ask of hundreds or thousands of people where they would be likely to want to come to your directory and do something that helps you and them? When you can properly ask that question, you are probably on to something that will carry you forward!

P.S. - We have a lot more coming this year with a new edition called phpLD Local due out soon. There will be more after that.

Written By David DuVal

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Publish date: March 20, 2014
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