Recently Barry covered a subject that comes up every once in a while: can competitors do something to damage your rankings in Google? In Google Says Spam Links Can't Hurt You, Again, more “proof” is presented that Google will not hold linking against you. The problem is that while they are saying that, they are also saying that you should be careful which directories you use, as covered by Tamar in May when she wrote Matt Cutts Tells Us Which Web Directories Can Impact Your Search Rankings.
In his statement, Matt provides “a few rules of thumb to think about when looking at a directory. When considering submitting to a directory…” He is not clear if submitting to the “spammy” directories that he describes could cause some sort of penalty, or if they would just be ignored.
A question posed recently at Search Engine Watch Forums asks about some directories that the user found in his backlinks that he did not submit to. He feels like others that the directory probably just added his site in order to help fill out their category index. Yet if the directory falls under the definition of “spammy,” can this hurt him?
I would hope that the answer is that they will simply ignore it, otherwise this is a specific way that someone could harm your rankings. I know this is sort of a circular argument, but it would help to clarify if penalties are involved on the directory front or if it is just devalued.
Please share your thoughts at the SEW forums.