Google's Issues With Most Web Directories: Little Content

Jan 17, 2013 • 8:32 am | comments (32) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

DirectoryA Google Webmaster Help thread has a webmaster who launched a business web directory in the Netherlands complaining his ranking is really poor.

As you know, less than a year ago, Google began removing directories from the index. But why? Why does Google dislike web directories?

The main reason is they lack unique and valuable content - for the most part. Of course not all web directories do, but most do.

John Mueller of Google explained in the thread:

With directories like that, I always worry that it's very easy to create a ton of content that doesn't have a lot of value yet. For example, I clicked through to a number of businesses, and apart from the general information such as the address and occasionally some keywords, I am missing anything unique, compelling, and of high quality. I realize it's not always possible to have that from the start, but if the majority of your site's content is like this at that point, you can imagine that it can be very hard for our algorithms to judge your website overall. One solution could be to only include content that you're certain provides something unique; another possibility could be to keep those pages on your site (perhaps users will add more content over time?), but to block them from being shown in the search results (perhaps with a noindex robots meta tag).

Starting a directory? Think twice.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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01/17/2013 05:39 pm

remove anything from your site, give google ability to display adwords only. Because it easy for their algorithms. haha

Kevin Gerding

01/17/2013 05:42 pm

Barry, the deindexed directory that you referenced in your previous post was only one day old when you used it as an example. The domain obviously had not fully propagated. It has over 400 pages indexed in Google today. Although the purpose of a directory is debatable, I don't see how most do not provide the same value as Google's search results. Directories often contain short descriptions of a business while Google scrapes and displays meta information in the search results. Directories often provide far more detail of a business than the 155 "optimal character limit" meta description that Google displays in search. Are John Mueller's remarks a case of the pot calling the kettle black?


01/17/2013 08:31 pm

John Muller's answer suggests that Google's algo can recognize unique and valuable content. I seriously doubt that...


01/18/2013 04:11 am

What extra content does Google expect from a web directory apart from business and address details? What uniqueness they are talking about?


01/18/2013 06:15 am

Well I think Google should have idea that directories don't allow to put even 70 words content. So how can we add more content in that like articles and blogs? Directories just provide a brief information about website so what uniqueness and what content?? I think having unique content on website is necessary so should we start putting little unique content on directory details?:D

Novice in Tokyo

01/18/2013 12:10 pm

"BUT TO BLOCK THEM FROM BEING SHOWN IN THE SEARCH RESULTS" !!! ….. a good/great web directory is in direct competition with google …. A good specialized anoted web directory, which is well edited and thoughtfully put together, often give the user the perfect "one stop" experience, and will replace countless searches for certain users. Don't be naive about this one! So: Better get rid of all those pesky web directories — altogether — good and bad. Take out the competition. Google even recommend the website owners to commit harakiri on those pages by first spending time to create useful content, and then to BLOCK the pages, so nobody can find them in searches — REALLY!! We already seen how all those new great comparison shopping sites (for google; pesky competition) were exterminated from the google search results. If one go to the other engines one do find some really great sites, which do not show up in google at all. Though quite a few of the very best had to close up business, as they couldn't generate any organic traffic on google. A lot of intellectual capital, money and manhours were lost, but of course this helped googles own business very much. If you want to keep the good and useful ones this is easy accomplished in the algo by looking for a large and varied vocabulary, more complex sentences and so on …… and the sort of usual stuff google use to try identify high quality content (I think?! I did a lot of work boolean sentences structuring when in high school about 40 y ago).

A robotnik in service

01/18/2013 12:39 pm

2084: The Sacred 3 Laws of a Googler 1. A Googler may not injure GOOGLE™ or, through inaction, allow GOOGLE to come to harm. 2. A Googler must obey orders given it by GOOGLE™ except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3. A Googler must protect its own existence and income as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. Googler – A google employee Google™ – "My Great Big Brother™" also known as Skynet™


01/19/2013 05:49 pm

google tryes to kill any website in the world except youtube & wikipedia, so we not need to expect what google have 'human face'. All what mcutts tell us is just 'self-pardon' marketing.


01/19/2013 05:51 pm

so now we know what google is really just googlebot ;)


01/19/2013 05:52 pm

them not care. Primary google idea in this day to penalize as many sites as possibly. And later switch to manual reviews.


01/19/2013 05:53 pm

unique listed sites titles/descriptions. so you need to hire writer to make all unique. but anyway, it can not work because some filter we don't know.


01/19/2013 05:54 pm

him even will tell you what googlebot and their algorithm is really smart and like AI.


01/20/2013 05:42 am

People forget web directories are competition for Google local so of course they don't want them in their index.

Michael Ehline, Esq.

01/20/2013 04:21 pm

Yeah we have been on a massive quest to remove our url from all the directories. I think exact match anchors are the culprit. Probably Google was upset that all those Indians were making too much money, and needed those guys for cheap phone support. Now they have crushed Indian SEO with Panda (bad grammar fails Panda), and directories with Penguin, they have all the cheap phone centers they need. :-)


01/20/2013 05:00 pm

Why don't you STFU and stop whining...


01/20/2013 06:21 pm

no, because it true.

PrHike Directory

01/20/2013 08:41 pm

For my directory, or for my newly added links I try to write lengthy quality paragraphs about the site I am listing. Try not to copy and paste sentences off of the site im listing. Make it all unique.


01/21/2013 02:21 am

does google consider reputation of a website?

PrHike Directory

01/21/2013 06:35 pm

I don't discourage creating new directories, I just think that people underestimate the work it takes to keep it quality. If you are willing to work and edit for quality then start one. If you stick with the quality guidelines that Google, Yahoo, or Bing has laid out then you shouldn't have any problem. Just write unique content and a lot of it. Pages add up and overtime your directory website will flourish, your hard work will payoff. The faster you get moving the faster it will flourish. Research and update frequently and add new content, content that people like to see which will keep your website visitors coming back while at the sametime gaining new unique visitors.

Novice in Tokyo

01/22/2013 06:41 am

You have 2 different types of directories: 1 – Scraper directories Fex Google's various efforts, a load of sites which scrapes public business records and similar. 2 – Edited directories to take real world examples Zagat and Michelin guides for restaurant info. Reading between the lines of the goole statement above, it seems as google are trying to clean away the competition. Specially the #2 type as this is the biggest treat. Tactics is two fold: 1 – Bury the undesirable sites in the 20s and below of the SERPS 2 – Start competing services were you get the naive to contribute for free. Push this high up in the ranking by being well accommodated to the algo (I can assure you google can do a better seo effort than all the rest of us put together). This tactic will of course in the result in google being broken up under monopoly laws in various jurisdictions. Google have in the last few years started to irritate the hell out of law makers around the world. Mainly for two things. 1 – By using loopholes in avoiding paying taxes in jurisdictions were the income is generated. And for that matter paying taxex anywhere. 2 – Muscling in on and/or distorting competition in many areas. A few years ago lawmakers and bureaucrats considered google as good. Google is now viewed as a problem maker and a leech.

Denver Web Success

01/22/2013 10:18 pm

This is just meant for fun... but it is worth pointing out that Google probably has the least unique content of anybody!

A robotnik in service

01/23/2013 07:11 pm

And they place really high on the SERPs! So much for the Google narrative! Why "just for fun" - are you scared of Google™ – "My Great Big Brother (2084)"™"? Do you think Google™ will take notice, lower your SERPs and pull the cookie out of your mouth?

Robotnik in service

01/24/2013 04:37 pm

In addition to above one can further note Google™ is probably also the biggest scraper, biggest spammer, and biggest promoter of scammy scammers' sites (in adwords). So much for that narrative which is endlessly repeated by Google's naive "useful idiots", with blue eyes and rosy apple cheeks, promoting the undertakings of Google. But like in any sect, when the Googlers speak, they make you feel guilty. – Did I do something wrong, have I been blackhatting? I thought I was only white but maybe there is a black soul in me? I must reread the guidelines better and follow the true path! (Though the "true path" changes every month with each update). I must better myself so Google may not strike me down. As you can see Google is following the textbook, line by line, on mind control within a sectarian environment. One thinks maybe Google™ has also head hunted some talent from GRU or KGB, to put together the narrative and then do what they are doing?! (Although these are maybe not the "greatest minds of our generation" or even the previous, but they are cunning and sly enough). Also the narrative is a constantly, incremental changing story, a moving target which is not easily understood or pinned down, just like a true sect. Nearly every major pogrom of sites seems to be followed by a business initiative by Google™ not to far away from the outcast sites. There is an egg hen question here which will need an answer. The narrative had to explain how Google™ could sit on two chairs at the same time. – Deliver a genuine good search result – Promoting their own business and make money thereof. Make business within that frame work was not totally compromised if Google™ business was only adwords and there was a transparency on how the ads were placed both for the buyer as well as the reader, like in your newspaper or your weekly magazine. However when Google™ became a veritable buffet of businesses that facade is impossible to maintain. Here I will not talk about personal integrity, recording of business critical secret information of various companies and a multitude of other "infringements" Google™ is doing.

Ian Smith

02/25/2013 10:24 am

Bit impolite?


03/15/2013 12:36 pm

All of a sudden, one of my sites has taken a dive in the rankings and there are directories all over the place. I think for the first three pages there are only two/three independent web sites listed, the rest are directories. We used to be on the first page, now on page 4. As good as overnight.


03/27/2013 04:31 pm

Yes, I've noticed that as well. Seems to be a lot of Yell, Checkatrade and other directories. So much for being diverse Google.

Ian Smith

03/27/2013 05:27 pm

"But like in any sect, when the Googlers speak, they make you feel guilty. – Did I do something wrong, have I been blackhatting? I thought I was only white but maybe there is a black soul in me? I must reread the guidelines better and follow the true path!" I had a good snigger at that - cheers!!


04/14/2013 10:48 pm

No DMOZ or Yahoo descriptions for one.


04/14/2013 10:50 pm

Yes I am still going ahead with my niche directory. I am writing the links myself. And adding content. Not worrying about adsense, adwords until I officially launch.


05/03/2013 01:20 am

We have been adding content since day one and have had very limited success with our SERP results.

ahsan ali

12/14/2013 05:48 pm

People forget web directories are competition for Google local so of course they don't want them in their index.


12/28/2013 08:19 am

Interesting comments I've been looking to start a personal trainers directory in Australia and the bullshit people tell you from web developers to plug in sites I'm still confused also interesting that Google purchased zagat a directory site

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