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//   by Gurbir Singh |

How To Find Niche + Location Specific Sites For Directory Link Building

Directory Link Building

There has been much talk about directories and the value of directory link building over the years. Many people used to swear by these directories and the ranking benefit that they provided. This, however, gave rise to directories which were just link farms in disguise.

Should you be building directory links?

Today, building directory links is widely acknowledged as a spammy tactic that could actually hurt the rankings of your website. Google’s Gary Illyses tweeted that directories are very often not the right way to build links.

Gary Illyes: Directories Not The Right Way to Build Links

Do you notice the “very often”? Like in most instances, Google and their representatives have never been specific with their messages.

With the recent algorithm updates and Penguin in particular, most SEOs go around chanting about not engaging in directory link building. However, they are missing the point.

What the Google gods don’t want us to do is submit to directories which were solely created to link out to websites and that don’t have strict guidelines for their review process. These directories(or link farms) have no real visitors.

Low Quality Directory

To please the Google gods, aim for relevant directories which people will actually use to find your business. The only directories that fit this criterion are the niche specific and location specific ones, resulting in a quality link for you.

Using Advanced Search Queries To Find Relevant Directories

Knowing how to search in Google using advanced search queries is a skill which will allow you to find almost anything, no matter how specific. It is a must-have skill for anyone looking to get better in search marketing.

We can easily use these advanced search queries to find relevant directories. However, first, let’s have a look at the structure of an advanced search query: 

Industry Keywords + Advanced Search Operator + Tactic Specific Footprint

  1. Industry Keywords: You should start out by identifying keywords which describe your industry. Start out with specific, industry-defining keywords and try to brainstorm any variations you can think of your keyword. E.g If I was running an SEO agency, my main keywords would be SEO, search engine optimization, SEO agency, SEO company just to name a few.

    Don’t stop here. You should target broader verticals so that further down the line, you can have more linking opportunities. E.g digital marketing agency, internet marketing company etc.

    If you are having trouble finding these keywords, I would suggest using tools like Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest.

  2. Advanced Search Operator: Even though SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush have become all rage, nothing beats the power of advanced search operators. They offer endless possibilities and can help us gain insights into linking opportunities that we otherwise won’t have found. A few, must-know search operators are:
    • Intitle – Using this operator, you can find pages that have your targeted phrase in the <title> tag.
      Advanced Search Operator
    • inurl:”desired-phrase” – This operator will return all the pages that have your desired phrase in the URL of the page.
      E.g inurl:”submit guest post” is one of the most used query strings to find guest posting opportunities.
    • site:”www.example.com” – Use this operator if you want to see results only from a specific website.
    • related: – Although not always reliable, the related operator can give great results at times. Use this with a root domain to find similar websites.
      Related Search Operator
  3. Tactic Specific Footprint – This is any word or group of words that commonly occur on the type of page that you want a link from. For a guest posting opportunity, the footprints could be “submit a guest post”, “become an author” etc.

Using a combination of industry keywords, advanced search queries, and tactic specific footprints, we can design search queries which can yield high-quality backlinks.

Let’s see how we can find relevant directories using these advanced search queries.

Finding Niche Specific Directories

Once you have identified and made a list of keywords which describe your industry and business, it becomes really easy finding directories which solely focus on your industry.

Some of the search strings which you can use to find these directories are:

  1. “Industry” directory – As you can see in the image below, this query returned many directories only for plumbers.
    Plumbing Niche Directory
  2. “Industry” inurl:directory: I found a nice DA 70 directory revolving around the yoga niche with a quick search.
    Yoga Niche Directory
  3. “Industry” intitle:directory
  4. “Industry” inurl:links
  5. intitle:industry inurl:directory – Another niche-specific directory, this time for car parts.
    Directory Link Building
  6. related:industry inurl:directory

Finding Location Specific Directories

The advanced search queries that you use to find location specific directories won’t be much different. The only addition you’ll have to make is to include your city along with your industry.

A list of some advanced search queries to find local directories are:

  1. “City” intitle:directory
  2. “City” inurl:directory
  3. “City industry” intitle:directory – Although just a DA 24 website, not too bad, eh?
    Building links with directories
  4. “City directory” intitle:industry

The great thing with advanced search queries is that you can make your own. If you visit a few websites and see a pattern, either in the title or in the URL or in the text, you can structure your queries to find other similar directories.

Also, you can go as broad as you want to. If you have exhausted all directories for your city, move on to state directories and then on to any directories for your country.

Competitor Analysis

Why slog when your competitor has already done the hard work for you? Analysing your competitors at regular intervals should be a part of every business’s strategy that wants results from any investments in SEO.

Here are a few steps you can follow to find the directories your competitors are listed in:

  1. Start out by identifying your direct and online competitors. For a local business, the direct and online competitors might not be the same.Make a list of all the keywords that you want to rank for and plug them into Google. Depending on how thorough you want to be, take the first 5-10 results from each page. You can do a bit of manual filtering to check that the results are actually relevant.
    List all the competitors you have identified in an Excel sheet. Check and remove any duplicates.
  2. Now we’ll find our competitor’s listings. Just do a simple search for your competitor’s business to see the results that Google returns. These are the results that Google actually cares about with regard to a business.
  3. Next, stick your competitor’s website in a competitor analysis tool like Ahrefsk or Majestic. This will return a list of all the backlinks pointing to your competitor’s site. Sift through the list and record any directories that you might find.
  4. While most people will stop at that, we’ll go a step further. We are going to use our knowledge of advanced search queries to perform competitor analysis.
    Search in Google for www.example.com -site:www.example.com. This search query will return all the occurrences that Google can find for your competitor’s site excluding the one’s their own site.
    Take this step further by searching in Google for “competitor’s phone number” -site:competitorsite.com. Similar to the previous search, this will return all occurrences of our competitor’s phone number excluding the one’s their own site.
  5. Repeat for every competitor and list the directories in an Excel sheet.

Once you have found these directories, it is as simple as submitting your business. You can do it yourself or outsource it to an SEO agency. Find a link which says “Add Listing”, “Submit Business”, “List Your Business” or something similar to this and just fill out the details.

Which Directories To Submit To?

Even though they might belong to your niche/location, it isn’t necessary that you submit to any directories that may find. It comes down to your instinct, experience, and a few technical metrics/signals.

Although I don’t always approve of the Domain Authority metric, a high DA directory can give you a basic overview of the worth of the directory.

High quality directories usually(not always) have a web design similar to that of normal sites – that means content & images and not just links. A site that looks like the following should ring the alarm bells.

Spammy Directory

Don’t forget to check whether the pages are being indexed. No use submitting to a directory when your link won’t get indexed. Also, try to find a directory with less number of outbound links per page.

The best directory that you’ll find is one that has actual people visiting it. Directories weren’t meant to simply be websites to get links from. Find the traffic stats of the directory using a website like similarweb.com.

Finally, don’t just stop at getting your business listed. Interact with the directory and its community. Post an article or participate in discussions. This will help increase the visibility of your company, which brings in more traffic.

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