Directory Links Next? Google Drops Yahoo & ODP Directory from Guidelines

Oct 3, 2008 • 8:20 am | comments (17) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

Last night, Google update their Webmaster Guidelines to remove a single line that reads:

Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites.

In fact, I was able to pull up the old version of the page in the Google cache.

As you can imagine, this has set an early spark of flames through the SEO/SEM community. We have very early discussions on this topic at Google Groups, Sphinn (thanks Beu) and Search Engine Watch Forums.

In the Google Groups thread, Google's JohnMu explains why Google removed that line. Let me quote John:

I wouldn't necessarily assume that we're devaluing Yahoo's links, I just think it's not one of the things we really need to recommend. If people think that a directory is going to bring them lots of visitors (I had a visitor from the DMOZ once), then it's obviously fine to get listed there. It's not something that people have to do though :-).

Honestly, John's remark scares me. I have seen this before - or similar statements. In my opinion, this will lead to Google taking stands against many more directories - more than they have ever done in the past. How do I know? I don't, but as Google Blogoscoped reported last night, Google dropped their own link to their own directory. We know Google has gone after directories in the past. Will they ever go after ODP (dmoz) or Yahoo? I am not sure, but will they go after some other popular ones? Maybe.

To be fair, John does ask for feedback:

What do you think - does it make sense? :-) What else should we change / add / remove?

Where will this lead? That is my concern. Should I be concerned?

Forum discussion at Google Groups, Sphinn and Search Engine Watch Forums.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: October 2, 2008


Lea de Groot

10/03/2008 01:17 pm

I read this as a reaction to the 'you say I shouldn't buy links, but then you tell me to pay Yahoo, who don't nofollow - wtf?' dialog. I don't think Google's stance on directories, particularly dmoz and yahoo, have changed but they have recognised the hypocrisy of their anti-paid-link stance while recommending paying directories. You know what would be nice? If Google Webmaster Help had a history of changes along the lines of a wiki (not the anyone-editing bits :)). I can imagine joe newbie webmaster reading it last week and going back to check today and thinking "I'm sure there was something about directories in here" and not knowing why its changed. M2CW


10/03/2008 05:11 pm

Interesting move here. I agree that it was a bit confusing before when they said "don't buy links, but submit to Yahoo (a paid submission). I thought though that Yahoo ran them through a redirect, which should appease Google?

Michael Martinez

10/03/2008 05:18 pm

I won't try to analyze their motives and intentions, but Google has certainly come across as being gross hypocrites for allowing people to buy links from "editorially reviewed" directories while hammering people for buying links from other sites that don't necessarily sell links to just anyone. Google has a long way to go before its link philosophy re-establishes any serious credibility.

Rick Vidallon

10/04/2008 02:18 am

If we assume that it's Google's mission to catalogue all of mankind's information in some discernable way -- then maybe directories should be a 'specific search'. Google should place a DIRECTORY link at the top of Google along side IMAGES, NEWS, SHOPPING and GMAIL. Why? Think about it this way. Say you walk into your local library looking for a book on 'Nutrition for Cancer Patients'. The library catalogue computer tells you to go to section 600, row 7B. But when you get there entire shelf is filled with reference books pointing to other sections of the libraries. If I want 'references' - then I will browse the reference section. But I don't want 'references'... I want RESULTS. I imagine this could also give Google a valid reason to crush their Ad Words competition without being perceived as 'Evil'. This will also give Google an opportunity to get rid of all the spammy, useless directory sites that create directories for the sole purpose of running Ad Sense programs.


10/04/2008 04:57 am

There is some nice traffic coming from directories, especially to local business sites. Also, we should differentiate between "niche value added directories" (ones that include reviews ie)and "just link directories", I believe the second ones will be fine as long as - ironically :) - they are much more than just directories.


10/05/2008 04:08 pm

Google is getting over-critical about backlinks. When MSN and Yahoo are counting also links found in blogs, social networks etc, Google marks them as spam. Jack


10/06/2008 07:14 pm

It's only fair that Google shouldn't rank ALL including Yahoo's paid directory.

No Name

10/06/2008 08:18 pm

I haven't recently paid for a link from DMOZ. No one has, so using the DMOZ portion of the change as an indicator of a new threat paid links doesn't make sense. You don't pay for your submission to the ODP... (Of course I know Yahoo is a paid link,) However since they chose to remove both a paid and non-paid directory from the list, it could be a wider signal that the strength of any directory is in question.

No Name

10/06/2008 11:41 pm

I was just about to start advertising my wee site and I thought the obvious way to do this was to list in directories. This post has me thinking twice though. I know Google hasn't said it but are directories now deemed bad neighbourhoods ?? I obviously don't want to promote my site and find it having a negative impact !! Some clarification from Google would be appreciated on this.


10/07/2008 05:34 am

dmoz sucks I'm glad google is dropping them

David Thurman

10/07/2008 11:39 am

DMOZ was and is a joke, and for Google to have used that as a PR or even valid URL to index was again a joke, unless you were an editor or knew one, fat chance you got inclusion into their precious directory. Google is starting to unravel at the fringes I think, with this being another sign that they can't control the spam and ad-only sites cluttering the results. MS should have forced the Yahoo! deal and at least 2 SE's would have been offering up decent results...blah...

Randy Duermyer

10/07/2008 04:18 pm

Also agree DMOZ sucks and may have been a useful tool back in the early days of the web that is now outdated and outclassed by just about every other alternative out there. Also agree that advising you not to buy links and then suggesting you buy one from Yahoo is speaking out of both sides of their mouth - especially if Google and Yahoo ever end up on the same dance floor together. I'm not sure removing these items means Google is now frowning on all directory links - I think it just means they no longer feel they're necessary or hold special value for ranking purposes. If directory links bring traffic to your site, they are certainly serving a purpose even if they have no bearing on your rankings or PR. The really crappy directories that Google would be likely to frown upon aren't going to bring traffic to your site anyway and - in my experience at least - neither does the ODP.

No Name

01/06/2009 06:47 am

Just one thing: i follow visitor analytics and never got even one click from DMOZ directory. maybe it was more useful in the past or for some other countries...


02/23/2009 04:54 pm

Google is getting serious about backlinks.That is why this is happening. Anyways thanks for sharing. :)

Rob Abdul

02/24/2009 02:31 am

I've received 3 clicks from dmoz all of 2009. Well, this just goes to show the future in going to be in traditional offline marketing.


07/03/2009 11:49 am

I submitted to dmoz months ago and they still have not added me. It sounds like I am not missing too many clicks from that though.


08/19/2009 10:21 am

Thousands of dodgy directories copy the DMOZ listings to populate their own directories. This is allowed by the DMOZ terms and conditions. These thousands of directories then try to charge others for new listings in their directories. The point is that they need to get some starting point otherwise the directory will look empty. DMOZ is a way to populate the directory for free with thousands of quality listings. When you get thousands of links from low grade pages with almost no page rank you still end up with a page rank of at least 1. This is the point of DMOZ - accumulate a very small amount of link juice and get the theme of your site categorized by the DMOZ category. Google still uses the DMOZ descriptions in the SERPs if you dont have a META description tag, so it finds DMOZ valuable in some way. I have noticed recently that getting into DMOZ is now only worth a page rank of 1 if you have no other links. I think it used to be worth more. The issue is not that DMOZ is worth less, but that other directories in general are worth less, and therefore a listing in DMOZ will not get the same result.

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