Who’s missed you off their listings?

Here’s another linkbuilding tip from the recent presentation by SEO expert Eric Enge on link-building which I mentioned yesterday. Having recently asked if anyone uses directories nowadays, I should say that although I don’t believe that printed ones are worth the paper they’re printed on, online directories have an unarguable benefit, and that’s the value of the links they give to you*. So the big question is: are there any directories out there which link to your competitors but not to you?

Here’s one way of finding them. Yahoo! has a useful command called “linkdomain” which lists web pages that link to a specific domain. So, for example, here’s what you get when you type in “linkdomain:www.bmon.co.uk” into Yahoo!. However, you can double up on these searches, so if you enter “linkdomain:www.redwidgetcompany.co.uk linkdomain:www.bluewidgetcompany.co.uk”, you’ll see a list of pages on the web which link to both of those sites.

You may be ahead of me here. Enter the websites of two of your competitors (typically the two biggest names in the market, and I find US companies are a good choice). Now you have a list of pages which link to both of these competitors. The chances are that these will be directory listings, and you can check out whether your company appears …and if it doesn’t, you can get on the case.

* Top tip: to test if a directory is worth being in for its link value, always examine the links there by checking out the page source code. Ensure that the links to companies don’t have a “NOFOLLOW” attribute after them, and preferably that they’re direct, clean URLs and not redirected ones.

15 thoughts on “Who’s missed you off their listings?”

  1. How does this differ from link:www.bluewidgets.co.uk on Google – it certainly gives different numbers.

    Also, anybody got any thoughts on Applegate or Businessmagnet who don’t show ‘no follow’ attributes in the source (so far as I can see) but whose links weren’t obvious when using the Yahoo tool to check on pages linking to us. By coincidence my Businessmagnet account manager happened to call just as I was reading this post and trying out the tool and he assured me they don’t use ‘No Follow’. I will be asking my Applegate rep the same question.

  2. Google’s “Link:” command is useful but notoriously incomplete. It’s not a good source if you want to find out the sites linking to you. Yahoo!’s Site Explorer is good, but best of all are tools such as Linkscape and Majestic SEO, which are the ones you’ll find the SEO professionals using.

  3. As to whether these sites are truly linking to you, if you look at your listing at (say) Businessmagnet, and hover over the link to your site, you’ll see that the link is not to your site directly, but to a redirection via the directory’s own site. Is this as good as a direct, plain link to your site when it comes to the value of the link in search engines? I’ll see if I can get a someone who’s a real search engine optimisation specialist to answer that…

  4. Unfortunately a redirected link is pretty much valueless. While I can do some analysis on the linking technique and determine something approaching value, I’ll stick my neck out and say that out of ten the link is worth about 0.1 which approaches 0. The 0.1 is for the value of the citation.

    Where possible, avoid redirected links *UNLESS* they are sending significant traffic. Traffic trumps link value for ranking any day since that is the goal really.

  5. The above post is incorrect in this context. There are differing types of redirects that are handled in various ways dependent upon the original destination and the final destination. Search engines such as Google account for this during their crawling process. Many websites use a redirect script to capture information for analysis, statistics, demographics etc. This is understandable and potentially a good practice for many larger sites. If the original destination link differs from the final destination link i.e. clicking a link embedded with website X actual transfers the browser to website Y then the question of link accuracy and validity will be raised and the link will lose its value. If clicking Website X – redirects to Website X then the source was accurate and valid. Much of the negative hype surrounding redirects has come about from un-acceptable browsing behaviour. e.g. clicking a link about tractors and arriving at porn site XXX. Examples of Googles practice of crawling and accounting accurate redirected links are everywhere.

  6. Thanks for your all your responses. John’s answer ties in closely with what my BusinessMagnet account manager said (if his name was John I would suspect he wrote it!). Applegate’s response was that they traditionally have used ‘no follows’ on links but certain packages they offer do not – fortunately including some of the ones we have.

    CPC is higher (for us) via both these directories than Adwords however the bounce rate/no. of pages viewed is better. We also get direct enquiries from Businessmagnet and on-site page views on both directories (we have quite a bit of information posted on both) which has to be considered too.

  7. What we don’t know, however, is the amount of traffic from online directories where the directory has just “got in the way” for someone looking for your company by name. For example, someone types your company name into Google and – for some reason – the directory’s entry for your company comes out top (rather than your own website), or is just the entry the searcher decides to click on. Then they go to the directory, and click through to your company. Value added to the process by the directory: zero. Amount of traffic to your site gained by the directory: zero. If the directory page about you hadn’t turned up in Google and distracted them, the searcher would have gone to your website directly. But it allows the directory to claim they sent you a visitor – and what’s more, it’ll be a good-quality visitor, because it was someone who was searching for your company by name.

    I would love to know the amount of traffic these directories get which is simply Google > Directory > Company Website, a 2-second process.

  8. Interesting point and one I will discuss when next talking to either directory – see if they will give me that info.

    On checking my Applegate listing today I can see that the links in the description text are not redirects but direct, whereas the main link in the contact details is the old redirect style. This is a new template Applegate offer, only very recently updated – it will be interesting to see what effect it has.

  9. Hi,

    So to just respond to the comment above in brief. My fixation is around SEO but I was careful to point out that if the listing drives traffic, that is all that matters. As Chris said, if the directory is getting in the way it is an issue where you’re paying for no additional traffic.

    The first link in the Applegate example (the button) adds no value at all. I say this with such a high degree of confidence because it is a redirect using a querystring URL. With this kind of URL, it is a link pointing at Site X but loading Site Y. The link is to the directory itself. The stuff that comes after the question mark in the URL may be ignored or may be acted upon. And the first Applegate link is also coming up as “nofollow” in my browser as well as being a redirect link!

    Links are important but in this case the link has little value being passed to the target website.

    The in-line links which follow are going to be ignored for the most part. There are a few articles which have been published online suggesting that no more than 3 links to the same site are valued on a page and that the number of links on a page divides the value each link passes on – meaning the Applegate page would also pass no real value through followed links. Some articles even assert that only the first link to a site counts and the rest are ignored.

    Regrettably therefore this page seems to be adding little value to the site in SEO terms but as always, traffic trumps SEO. If it is driving converting traffic, leave it there.

  10. From Applegate’s point of view, I’m sure they have their clients’ interests at heart, but I can’t imagine many clients are worried about the sort of issues we’re discussing here (although it’d be encouraging if they were). So they concentrate on providing what the majority of their customers do want, which I assume is the presentation shown.

  11. I agree on both counts. I’d like to see this asset properly leveraged for SEO but I think that this type of listing – if it is driving converting traffic – is great. IIRC the page is cached and while it has no external links pointing to it, the page has value in a search engine’s eyes.

    Just because a digital asset passes no SEO value doesn’t make it inherently bad. As long as it drives converting traffic it’s just a shame.

    I do wish more businesses seriously looked at optimising their digital assets.

  12. I agree with Chris’ comment, “Yahoo!’s Site Explorer is good, but best of all are tools such as Linkscape and Majestic SEO, which are the ones you’ll find the SEO professionals using.” I also use all three of the methods although I think using Yahoo Site Explorer is probably more well known to many marketers and it is free.

  13. Hey I hate to break the flow of the commenter’s convo but this page has really helped me tons and regarding what you said about entering “linkdomain:www.redwidgetcompany.co.uk linkdomain:www.bluewidgetcompany.co.uk” to see a list of pages on the web which link to both of those sites”, I’m not finding the links popping up – are they still around?

  14. Judith, your comment ‘I do wish more businesses seriously looked at optimising their digital assets’ definitely struck a chord with me and makes a great point. In my experience, even companies operating primarily online often do not understand or utilise the vast array of services at their disposal. Assessing the online functionality of competitors and acting on the findings is just one very simple way to improve a company’s profile in the market, yet so many businesses seem to overlook this. I have found linkdomain especially useful to search directories and would highly recommend the tool to other business owners.

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