Business basics: Can some online business directories harm my Google ranking?

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Business basics: Can some online business directories harm my Google ranking?

You will come across thousands of business directories, but choose carefully before advertising your business. Jayne Day explains why.

Listing your business, and more specific you business website address or URL,  in an online directory has been a popular and relatively easy method of advertising your business online. One of the reasons it is done is to build backlinks to your website.

Backlinks are just links placed over the world wide web that point back to your website. And building backlinks is considered highly in achieving search engine rankings for your website.  
But a very important point to remember is, not all backlinks are equal and not all online directory listings are beneficial.  In fact, some can actually harm your business.
How some online directories could harm your business
In the past, in order to achieve Page 1 Google rankings, in a lot of cases all you needed to do was create thousands of backlinks pointing back to your website.  But in 2012, Google updated their algorithms so that these tactics alone didn't give a business good Google rankings. In many cases the backlinks had actually harmed their Google rankings and caused the business to be wiped from the Google index.  
This is a scenario that is not good for any business as it can literally mean the loss of thousands of dollars. One day you are receiving enquiries and sales through your website due to your customers finding you via Google search and then the next day you aren't receiving any traffic at all to your website, which means a loss of sales and business.
I spoke about this subject during a presentation I made at the AusMumpreneur Conference Roadshow in March as it is extremely important for business owners to be aware of the pitfalls of building "spammy" links in undesirable directories.  
Unfortunately, many business owners go to an "expert" to achieve high google rankings but the business owner needs to have this knowledge so that they can ensure that they aren't leaving their online business success to someone that is actually harming them.  Getting to Page 1 of Google is so much more then just building backlinks and there needs to be a complete strategy in place.  
So how do you know if a directory is valuable and is good to list your business on?
First of all take a look at the directory.  Is it of good quality with valuable information or is it full of promotional material and advertising?  Avoid the directory if it is a low quality site.
Secondly, is the  directory relevant to your business and your target customer?  If there is no relevancy at all, don't list your business.  For example, if you sell baby shoes you don't want to list in a home improvement directory.
Thirdly, if it is really easy to get the listing and all you have to do is complete a small amount of information without any approval process then more than likely, it is a low quality directory.  Better quality directories make it slightly more difficult to get the listing and have an approval process in place.  Listing in many of the these low quality directories will also bring you large amounts of spam email.
So how do you find relevant directories to list you business on?
Some general directories that are good to look at include:
Then do some research to find industry relevant directories.  Use Google search to search for directories related to your industry.  Many blogs also have a directory attached to their website so do some research on blogs as well.  
You will come across thousands of business directories but choose carefully.  If you have any doubts, then just avoid that directory.
In summary
Directory listings are a great way to obtain more exposure for your business and also improve the search engine rankings for your website but proceed with caution, don't just create a listing because it is available.  


Jayne Day is an online marketing specialist offering services and consulting to small business owners through her SEO and social media agency Webonize. Services include website design, search engine optimisation, video marketing and social media.

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