Free Directory Sites Dropping Out Of Google?

May 15, 2012 • 8:57 am | comments (91) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

DirectoryA WebmasterWorld thread has one SEO noticing that Google has started to purge their index of the free directory submission web sites.

He said that about 50% of the free directory submission web sites are no longer to be found in Google. I searched for a bunch and about 50% of my searches returned results and 50% did not.

Here is one example:

Google Removes Directories

The big question to me is, is this new? Did Google just remove a bunch of these directories? Is Google going to remove more? What criteria did Google use to decide which ones to remove?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Update: David Harry is analyzing data and currently after testing 500 directories and says 16% are delisted from Google. So a lot less than 50% but David is researching more and maybe if that list of 500 was increased to 5,000 it would be higher?

Image credit to ShutterStock for directory book

Previous story: Bing Search Update? Crawl Changes?


Mike Kalil

05/15/2012 01:02 pm

They should remove DMOZ while they're at it. I'm convinced no one's even editing that thing anymore.

Michael Kharwin

05/15/2012 01:07 pm

Free Web directory links is basically a lot of spam resources in one place. Than's why I don't think it is something strange that Google trying to remove these websites from the search.

AJ Kohn

05/15/2012 01:13 pm

This wouldn't surprise me. What benefit do these directories provide to users? Would you want to see those sites in your own search results?

Craig Tumblison

05/15/2012 01:27 pm

With directories largely used to boost the number of backlinks a website has, it makes sense for Google to identify these sites and minimize their affect on SERP's. With that said, I'm not sure if removing them completely is the best option - they are still websites and there are plenty of high quality directories still in use.

Chris Countey

05/15/2012 01:31 pm

100% agree

Stefan Jonsson

05/15/2012 01:36 pm

As for most of these directories, I agree, what good are they there for when you want quality search results

Richard Anthony Ortiz

05/15/2012 01:41 pm

Honestly, Im surprised it took this long. A wise seo once told me that any easy link was a bad link and you cant get any easier than directories.

Adrian Bold

05/15/2012 01:47 pm

No major surprise. Most offer no real value, let's face it.

Nick Stamoulis

05/15/2012 01:50 pm

Free directories are an easy win for site owners that are just starting their link building campaign, but they shouldn't be the cornerstone of any portfolio by any stretch of the imagination. I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner. The question is--will Google penalize sites that are part of those directories or just de-index them?

Neil Ferree

05/15/2012 01:58 pm

Another reason why and how ones rel=author rich snippet will provide a mechanism and buffer to negate such low value sites.


05/15/2012 02:01 pm

Why would they get rid of the free ones but not the paid ones?

David Amerland

05/15/2012 02:47 pm

That is a suggestion I would cheerfully second. DMOZ has been the biggest headache around ever since Google decided a link from it really helped boost PR. Thank goodness we are getting past the madness of link-buying and DMOZ submission cycles which often reminded me of Dante's antechamber to hell.

Tyson Stevens

05/15/2012 03:24 pm

I can see the push to paid directories because they're typically "moderated" (whatever that means). But to completely rid of free directories?


05/15/2012 04:23 pm

"You take my life / When you do take the means whereby I live." Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1

Erik Leander

05/15/2012 04:24 pm

I think you're right on Barry. I've seen this as well.......I think that G has been on to this for awhile. I do get some decent traffic from a few free directory that'll be a bummer if those get de-indexed. Would be better if G just made those links useless instead......

Lee Colbran

05/15/2012 04:24 pm

Not a surprise; and a long time coming!


05/15/2012 04:38 pm

"submit your site to 4,000 search engines". Yeah, the ways of asshattish SEO are looking less and less valuable to the masses of asshattish companies trying to make money through asshattish tactics for sure. Then again, asshattish people always seem to come up with new asshattish services. So it will be entertaining, at least, to see what direction they go in as more and more ways fall off the face of Google.

William Alvarez

05/15/2012 04:47 pm


Avinash Conda

05/15/2012 05:04 pm

So link building now means only blog commenting other than guest blog posts, etc?

Marcus Miller

05/15/2012 05:07 pm

The devil is in the details here and whilst a directory may be free, that does not make it a bad link. That said, the fact of the matter is that many free web directories exist for no reason other than to provide some substance to $99 link building packages. Penguin and directories eh, looks like Google is in full on Search and Destroy mode for links. :)

Levi Wardell

05/15/2012 05:11 pm

I think I got an email from Asshattish SEO LLC the other day...

Benjamin Spiegel

05/15/2012 05:12 pm

This is what we all have been expecting. I think google has devalued them for a while now, and now as a final step just plainly removed them.

Levi Wardell

05/15/2012 05:14 pm

I'm more concerned with how they determine something as a "free directory". There are a lot of good sites out there that are free, offer links to different resources and get used on a regular basis. We're all thinking of all those spamo-licious directories that really junk up the intarwebs but if you think about it, this could impact a lot more than just the typical directory that was created for quick-fix SEO.

Craig Kilgore

05/15/2012 05:22 pm

I have been analyzing client and non client websites over the past few weeks (under the assumption that they were in some way penalized by Penguin) and in at least 75% of them, after analyzing their link portfolio, were participating in MASSIVE amounts of website directory link building tactics so this is great to know

Mr Marketology

05/15/2012 05:45 pm

The question I have is if they are diluting the value of free directories, will they do the same for paid directories. And if you pay for the listing in a directory, will it be considered a paid link. hmmm

Allison Baerin

05/15/2012 06:21 pm

This totally makes sense to me. I am happy to report that the 50ish directories that I am working with are currently all still in there... crossing my fingers.

Julien Berard

05/15/2012 06:59 pm

All clear so far for the one i am using - one difference - NO adsenses on the directories of my list - coincidence???

Asad Wahab

05/15/2012 07:19 pm

It may have something to do with the link network stuff, as there are directory networks available on net, may be that is a cause of de-indexation? i was going through the link profile of a site who has done automatic directory submissions and all of those directories, which were basically different but were working under one umbrella were de-indexed, and to add more to this, when I contacted the directories which were deindex, to remove the site from their index, they didnt even bother to reply...

Asad Wahab

05/15/2012 07:22 pm

And I would like to know, who that WISE SEO is...? EGOL may be? just sayin!

Garry Egan

05/15/2012 07:50 pm

But that's not a 'paid link' that money is a 'website review' fee. LMAO. You hearing me BOTW? Hilarious. If it walks like a duck...

Barry Schwartz

05/15/2012 07:54 pm

I updated the story after David Harry started to analyze some data. He is noticing currently of 500 directories, 16% were delisted. As he ads lower quality (pagerank) directories are added, the delisting rate increases. See the update above.

Wayne Morrise

05/15/2012 09:32 pm

Oh well.

Wayne Morrise

05/15/2012 09:39 pm

DMOZ will surely remains. This about the integrity of the site. Some free directory sites always accept directory listing even if the nature of the website is not that related to their category they still accept, unlike DMOZ they had a great sites that has been listed in their category.

Michael Ulrich

05/15/2012 09:43 pm

Well it is partnered with the dinosaur AOL, nuff said!

Alan Bush

05/15/2012 09:59 pm

Absolutely, this was somewhat inevitable. Any "easy" link building tactics are systematically being removed by Google; I'm actually surprised they didn't start here.

Marty Ware The SEO DAD

05/15/2012 11:48 pm

Yes, it's just another for Google the Big G to take full control of their page rank system. If they remove all the ways for us seo guys for link generation then they have a better system. Marty Ware The SEO DAD!


05/16/2012 12:33 am

Big Smile..I see some competition going down in flames !


05/16/2012 12:51 am

This is the 21st century. DMOZ has no relevance today and the corruption is rife through the place. It should be the first directory to go.

Gary Andrew Lacanilao

05/16/2012 04:24 am

Another thing.. How about those local companies who submit few free listings and doesn't know about SEO? This should be considered by Google.. tsk tsk..


05/16/2012 05:25 am

hi, sites like hotfrog won't be delisted though its a directory. however i have seen number of new directories have no to less index the new ones.


05/16/2012 05:57 am

I noticed the same last year, so I really took a deep breath and kind of foresaw that Penguin thing was coming sooner rather than later. What Google wants is to kill the artificial links a person can get for himself, so that SEO will "reset" or depend on just links a person cannot get for himself in any way. I think Google is pushing too much their luck, lately. With their abusive new privacy policy in force as from March 1st, and DuckDuckGo, "the antithesis of Google", on the rise; people, specially web masters, will continue getting increasingly sick and tired of the big G. Do you imagine web masters dropping AdSense as a payback? Do you imagine "User-agent: googlebot" + "Disallow: /" in robots.txt files? If Google continues this way, I don't see it too weird now; the very opposite, I consider it feasible in a reasonable short term.


05/16/2012 07:20 am

It's not so surprising because Google thinks half of these directories are sources of bad links. It's unfortunate because some online directories are actually useful.


05/16/2012 07:21 am

I wish they would, DMOZ either needs active un-bias editors or shutting down.


05/16/2012 07:24 am

The problem I have with Googles recent anti low quality spam is, in a lot of cases they are removing directories, articles etc but paid links are always being left alone, which means as the sites making spammy low quality links go down, the link buyers go up and are rewarded. Site wide blog links still seem to be working, why?


05/16/2012 07:26 am

If this is true, then what about the future of SEO, what about the quality directory like DMOZ and all that?


05/16/2012 08:00 am

There are editors, who took fee for these dmoz lisitng. i have got 5 listing for my client in DMOZ. it is just a business. Infact the existing editors never want the new editor to come and eat their money. Editor intentionally reject the free submisisons and they have registered themselves on lots of freelancing sites where they specially browse those projects asking for dmoz listing and all. it is business they are doing.

Eric Muhanji

05/16/2012 08:02 am

It’s about time. They never made any sense other than for SEO link building purpose. They should also devalue paid directories as paid links.

Dave Ashworth

05/16/2012 08:04 am

I imagine any value that they do pass, would simply be wiped out with no penalties imposed

Philippa Jane Norman

05/16/2012 08:13 am

The question I want to ask is - How will this actually affect sites which are listed on these? Will they be penalised by Google for being on a site they no longer index or will they simply not count for link juice or nada (kind of like now anyway ;-) ?

Mark Hodson

05/16/2012 08:56 am

If we started the web again from scratch, we wouldn't bother building 90% of directories. With good search you don't need directories.


05/16/2012 09:59 am

I don't understand why Google is removing most of the free directory sites, If Google continues to remove free directory sites, I will loose lot of back-links. Because I regularly do submissions on Free directory sites.

Asif Anwar

05/16/2012 11:05 am

Anyone believe that Link:Content Ratio is a factor here? High Link:Content Ratio = Parked Domain Moderate Link:Content Ratio = Directory Site Relatively High Link:Content Ratio = Normal Commercial Website Very High Link:Content Ratio = Article page or Blog

Asif Anwar

05/16/2012 11:06 am

I think you should use the directories listed in

Kunal N Shah

05/16/2012 11:19 am

A lot of questions asked but no answers it seems. I recently hired an seo company to handle my SEO related activities. They had suggested comprehensive article submission to different sites. If the directories themselves are removed, I seriously think things will get much worse for all!


05/16/2012 01:14 pm

Seems only the link farms (aka directories with few links, on same ip's, containing easily traceable signs of bulk link schemes) are de indexed. This will raise the value of human edited FREE directories a lot. Do your homework before posting OMG the sky is falling things.

Benji Craig

05/16/2012 01:40 pm

I hope this means that paid directories will also see a boost (chamber of commerce and industry-specific associations).


05/16/2012 03:32 pm

This domain Creation Date: 2012-05-14 09:30:33 GLOBAL-WEB-DIRECTORY.ORG

Barry Schwartz

05/16/2012 03:33 pm

See the list at That is just one example.


05/16/2012 04:04 pm

One day Google will not be number one, but the last time I looked Google knew what they were doing. They must periodically clean their results of the crap. No surprise. I can't imagine web masters dropping Google ads any time soon. Too much money compared to the next best thing. From what I've read the typical searcher does not notice any changes as a result of panda or penguin anyway.

Dr. Gary Jacobs

05/16/2012 04:09 pm

I completely agree with this. One thing people always worry about from those stupid SEO tools is, "Why am I not on DMOZ yet?!" Well the answer is because it is no longer moderated and even a year goes by without an add.

Gabriel R

05/16/2012 05:23 pm

True that! I have submitted about 5 to 10 websites over a year ago and they are not visible yet.

Kenneth von Rauch

05/16/2012 08:43 pm

Are the sites that are listed there hurt in any way?

Jonnas Kali

05/16/2012 08:57 pm

Good article. I was reading something about the Google algorithm on that was also help. Google is an unpredictable search engine while Yahoo! and Bing seem slow to react at times.


05/17/2012 02:37 am

I run Info Vilesilencer. Have for about a decade now. I've just run through our free directory list (it's called the Top 100 because it is what we consider to be the top 100 free directories) and tested the indexation of the directories. Here's my results. Every single one of them is indexed. 100% of 100 directories indexed. Also, it looks to be pretty strong to me. The vast majority have literally 000's to 100s of 000's of pages indexed depending upon the relative size of the directory itself. Granted, there is a decent handful that only have a few hundred pages indexed, but they are still indexed, and it is a well known fact that indexation numbers fluctuate wildly. To me, this is chicken little. The sky is falling in. Again. I think people need to stop worrying about "site types" and start worrying about actual content quality and relevance. It's amazing how someone sees smoke and screams "fire" and everyone starts running, without even bothering to check the source of the smoke. Of course low quality directories are going to get purged. Heck were they ever in the index? Low quality blogs, forums and normal websites would also get purged or de-indexed. Man, I thought people would be getting smarter over the years. We had these same discussions 10 years ago, have we really not learnt anything yet? Google isn't discounting, devaluing, deindexing or trash-canning directories. They are removing low quality resources, whether they be blogs, forums, directories, websites, whatever, from their index. As you expect they would. Time to mature the discussion methinks.


05/17/2012 03:30 am

There are basically not one comment I disagree with here. Thanks for a another very relevant topic Barry. In fact, some of the comments are actually making me fell a little better. I have a simple question on the topic of paid vs free directory links. My site has had a page rank 3 for more than a tear before the Penguin update and a I ranked well for a number of very relevant keywords. After the update I was dropped into the deepest black hole of cyber space. A very few keywords remained on page two of the Google SERP's. I had links coming from blogs (both do follow and no follow) a few were those referred to us links naturally built by people who seemingly likes the site and I also acquired around 100 links from high PR (PR3 to 7) directories. All directories are human edited (yea, whatever that means Tyson). I have never received any webmaster mails from Google about suspicious links and cannot find any myself either (apart from which I am sure Google must simply discount by now). My onsite stiff (text, use of keywords etc, etc is perfect). My question is, should I request for my site to be removed from these directories in an attempt to get some of my rankings back? What I have done in the meantime was to change the keyword phrases of the links, ( I did not use all the same keywords before, but now just have an even bigger spread of different phrases. Hope someone out there has a meaningful suggestion.


05/17/2012 03:32 am

Sorry, forgot to mention, most of the directories I submitted to are paid directories.

Ferdous Haider

05/17/2012 06:28 am

I have checked a list of 500 free directories and I can see only around 10% has been de-indexed


05/17/2012 11:45 am

Well done Silencer. I am one of loyal and long term user of Vilesilencer and have been active on your forums quite a while. If low quality directories are deindexed, why worries? they were low quality itself with bunch of ads and fly-by-night. They were never useful to users anyway and so no needed.

Ketan Raval

05/17/2012 01:15 pm

cool, we normally prefer to work on live list instead of list on Excel Sheet kind of things ..specially on directory submission :) It is always good to get listed on some good directories.. but link diversity is most important ..

Frank J. Kenny

05/17/2012 11:46 pm

Good call Benji.

Oleg Korneitchouk

05/31/2012 03:10 pm

"Out of the 2,678 directories, only 200 were banned – not too shabby. However, there were 340 additional directories that had avoided being banned, but had been penalized." source: Seems like they are continuing to lose value for SERPs. With the most recent penguin refresh, be interesting to see how they were affected.


06/08/2012 10:58 am

This is totall wrong information.

Effective Site

06/12/2012 01:12 pm

most of those free directories have garbage links going into them from other directories the owner has, and for the most part they probably have the same content which is submitted by being cut and paste from one to the next. It's not surprising they were de-indexed but I don't think it's indicative of how they Google views directories in general. Niche directories can still be helpful to people and drive in traffic.

Gail Gardner

06/15/2012 11:30 pm

I totally disagree. Search indexes and directories serve totally different purposes. If I want to compare all the restaurants or auto parts stores or veterinarians in a give location a directory is a much better way to find them. Not to mention that with the majority of Internet users blindly using Google because the media have conditioned them to do so and that is the default on their PC we don't have good search. We have only what Google wants us to see instead of what we want to find.


06/16/2012 01:13 pm

Then if we type "Free Directory" in , will come in search result right?


07/11/2012 06:38 am

Submiting site to directory is still working. Auto submission is bad idea and It must be penalized. You can still get benefit from directories if you minimize the use of exact match anchor text and the lower quality directory.

Bozz Mike

07/16/2012 03:11 pm

So you mean I need to check in google SE first if the site is no longer exist or ban?


07/26/2012 01:20 pm

I Absolutely agree. DMOZ lost its value and I think no one is looking after it anymore.

Mirza Sharz

08/07/2012 05:25 pm

Well, one of my blog name is Direktori Blog Indonesia. It's a blog about free blog directories and contains free blog listing just like a real blog directory. So far, it's been well indexed by Google with key phrase: free blog directory. I hope Google will never remove it from it's SERP.


08/17/2012 06:02 am

That's really a bad news if it's true. Does that mean we have to focus on Paid directories?

Harikrishna Kundariya

09/06/2012 12:35 pm

what do you think BARRY, what directory should do for the ranking???? as per my experience.. given example is been recovered & get that started from the 1st.... i think we have to treat from the beginning... & do work like new website... basically i want to study on that... so guide me on that direction... looking for support from you expert... :) Thanks,

Harikrishna Kundariya

09/06/2012 12:39 pm

i did... asif... but few of them are all ready been affected... out of 50 you can see the 5 to 7... so be care ful while doing those.... one more question asif... how to identified the penguin affected links.... if you can guide... i would be thankful to you


10/13/2012 01:39 pm

This is just another rich get richer scenario what's wrong with putting your link into a relevant free directory nothing pisses me of time is money and some of us spend a lot of time finding the right free directories

Jeremie Taperla Cinco

06/09/2013 03:49 pm

I don't think so, For me, i'll go for the big pr free submissions.

Jeremie Taperla Cinco

06/09/2013 03:50 pm

Just keep it up the good work dude.

Harriet Sanders

06/19/2013 10:59 am

may be,

Harriet Sanders

06/19/2013 11:00 am


Jonathan Govette

10/29/2013 04:41 pm

There is no value in free directory sites, start writing great content and you will not be hurt with the changes.

James Neal

11/28/2013 07:42 pm

I know this is an old thread but I dissagree about classifieds. One of my SEO customers make £3 million a year just from his classified adverts. I also make a lot of business from the same section so I dont think this is right. Poeple think if they go to classifieds they are going to get something cheaper than going to the more prominent area of a newspaper. With regards to Adwords, yes we are all being pushed to Adwords, there is no question about that but at the same time Google is is ruining thier reputation and we are now seeing them slowly drop as more people start to use Bing/Yahoo. As the world starts to expand to China and Russia, those other search engines are also taking more traffic. I have heard from many sources now that 5 to 10 years, Google might still be around but a hell of a lot smaller. I am 50/50 on that but they will be smaller, just not sure how much. The worrying thing is the new aspect of Google doing away with our websites altogether and making users sign up/pay for products/get information through thier search engine before they even go to the website. I can see in years to come websites will revert back to information pages only that arnt even looked at. DMOZ has to go, never ever had a link got on there. Is SEO on the way out? not yet but maybe in the future for website SEO.

Spook SEO

12/07/2013 04:07 pm

Rather than being disappointed at the 50% loss of directories search, its better to take advantage of the other 50% alive directories because if the half glass is empty then on the other side half glass is still full.I am still using directories while performing my SEO functions.


03/24/2014 02:06 pm

It seems that Google is not de indexing all directories, but directories like multiple directories from same server or IP, directories only exists for spam, etc... As our directory is indexed on google and running well without any trouble. Almost all pages are indexed on google and returning results while making query with "site:" search. But it is true that now directory where links approved after editor's evaluations will remain indexed and others will be de indexed

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