Do NOT give up on
the benefits of "Directories". Fashion directories such as
Apparel Search play an important role on the internet. Below we will discuss a few reasons why we
disagree with the current craze to remove listings from
directories by using the disavow tool. Note: this article
is written in October 2013. Our views may change as new
The disavow file and the steps leading up
to the disavow file presents little more than trouble for many online
directories. If "paid links" equals "bad links" in the mind of Google, it
is reasonable to declare that the disavow process may be unfairly
punishing directories that charge for services rendered.
The disavow process has multiple stages.
First, companies are to remove inbound links that are of poor quality by
contacting website owners. If that does not meet their satisfaction, they
can move to the disavow file submission (check the Disavow
Tool discussion for
possible dangers or benefits).
On this post, I wanted to discuss the
fact that disavowing links either directly with a website owner or via the
disavow file in Google webmaster tools may be unfair to a particular
category of websites. Directories for example.
As per Google, "In some
links can affect
Google's opinion of a page or site. For example, you or a search engine
optimizer (SEO) you've hired
may have built bad
links to your site via paid
other link schemes that violate our quality guidelines."
A "paid link" can mean,
"Buying or selling links that pass PageRank.
This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links;
exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a "free"
product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link. source:https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en&rd=1
Directories that charge money for the
service they provide are essentially creating paid links. Hence, they are
possibly categorized as the opposite of good… Is Google suggesting website
owners should remove themselves from business to business directories? If
they are suggesting this, I believe it to be unfair as well as a poor
If a directory owner decides that it is
appropriate to charge companies for the time and effort to create, edit,
and maintain a directory, why would Google find that to be black hat?
Google decided their own business model would allow companies to be listed
in their search engine at no cost. That should not give them the right to
dictate that every other internet resource must also offer free services. The
reality is that directories are not easy to maintain. They take a great
deal of time to develop and manage. Why shouldn't the owner of a directory
get paid for their efforts?
Not all "paid links" should be considered
equal. Directories are NOT evil
or black hat. Online directories are created for very legit reasons.
In my opinion they're two primary ways to
locate information on the net:
With only two primary methods, it is a
rather unfair business practice for one method (search engine) to inform
people that if they use a competing service (paid directory) it will
negatively impact their standing in search results.
Let's pretend for a moment that there is
no such thing as an algorithm or a search engine. Wouldn't "inbound" links
from multiple locations (paid or non-paid) be beneficial to your own
website? Certainly they would. Without the algorithm how could this
possible hurt your traffic? Therefore, if you are attempting to remove
your business from paid directories, you are essentially doing so simply
to alter your page rank. Isn't playing around with links a "scheme" which
would be against Google's policies…
This scenario created by the disavow
hysteria is unfair to both the directory and the companies that are being
pushed by Google into removing their company listings from such
It is understandable why Google
prefers fewer links on the net. It is also understood that the process
that takes place before and during the disavow file
submission in theory will reduce the overall number of links. My question
is whether or not Google's method to reduce the extra noise on the net is
a "fair" process for online directories that receive compensation for
Let's try to stay non-bias and answer a
Is it appropriate for a search
engine to directly or
indirectly suggest that businesses remove their listings from paid directory websites?
Is it fair to publically insinuate that
paid directories are "black hat"? Therefore, reduce the likelihood that
directories will receive new submissions.
Have you been
contacting or considering contacting other websites asking them to remove
links to the sites you manage? By doing this, you are not building or
cleaning your own
website. By reaching out to websites that you do not own, asking them to
remove links, you are most likely doing so on behalf of the search engine
and not on behalf of making your own site better in anyway.
Using my own website as an example,
Apparel Search is a directory for the fashion industry that contains both
paid and non-paid listings. A very large majority of our directory
listings are actually non-paid, but over the years many listings have also
been created for a small service fee. The intention was never to
manipulate search engines or pass along link juice (my directory has
existed LONG before SEO was popular). The fee was for my time and effort
required to build, edit, and maintain the directory listing. Company
profiles, designer bios, etc., are created manually for every company
listed in the directory. In my opinion, it is more than legit for me to
charge a service fee for my time and effort.
This year Apparel Search has been
receiving e-mails from various companies indicating that Google has
advised them to remove their listings from my directory. This issue has
multiple negative effects on my business.
- Time spent communicating back and
forth with these companies to discuss the issue of removing their
listing (sometimes trying to talk them out of it).
- Time and effort to remove the
data and re-upload the revised pages.
- Directory is shrinking (less
listings, less helpful to my viewers).
- New companies paying for listings
In summary, the directory is being hurt
by the changes.
Equally or even more important, when the
actual disavow file is used, what negative signals are sent about the
websites that is listed on the file? Even though a website is legit,
people are possibly being scared into listing the directories on a disavow
file. I have tens of thousands of listings on my directory. If even a
small percentage adds my site to a disavow file as suggested by Google,
this will cripple my business.
Also, can't competitors manipulate this
tool to hurt a competitor website. That is horrible.
The fact that Google is putting in
people's minds that "search engines" are good and "directories" are bad is
hurting the website I have spent over ten years developing. I was curious
how many people believe it is fair to disavow directory websites. In my
opinion, it is better to disavow the disavow process. What is your
Written by ML 10/10/13
Search engine optimization is certainly not easy. In fact, here at
Apparel Search, we are often lost in regard to making our own website
rank well. Here is an example that we posted in
our SEO article from May