In the past, I considered starting up a link directory. It only makes sense for SEOs to run link directories – after all, they know what other SEOs are looking for when they submit a link. For whatever reason, I didn’t do it, and I don’t really see myself doing it in the future – however, theoretically, I thought it would be interesting to disclose the foundational practice I believe would eventually lend to pillaging SEOs of their link building spend – independent of the real value of the link I would’ve offered with the directory.
One of the tiers of standard link building is acquiring links from your competitors. The reason to do this is twofold: One, they have similar content offerings, so it seems probable that you could potentially get the same link. Second, they rank well, so hypothetically these same links got them the rankings they now have – whether or not that’s actually the case.
For these two reasons, rummaging through competitor link profiles is high on the hierarchy of link building procedures for an SEO. Any time we see a link a high ranking competitor got that we can get, we get it without blinking – because link building is tough, and any potential link that matches the above two characteristics seems worth getting – at least to a threshold of a non-insane price.
Well, not in the link directory circumstance I describe – because it takes into account these very foundations of link building to maximize revenue for the link directory.
A Link Directory of Industry Leaders
After setting up a normal link directory structure that’s fundamentally solid – and pumping in a moderate number of external links, the link directory owner could/would/should then find as many high volume commercial keywords for each directory category, and submit the top two/three players in the space automatically to the directory, for free.
From there, they would set an abnormally high submission price for the directory value (something like $80 is pretty obscene for a non-top-tier directory), and then watch all the wannabe-rankers flock to their site to extract the link that must have added to the value of those websites’ current ranking position.
By finding the industry leaders and hosting them for no cost – with the perception that they were hosted at cost – a plethora of SEOs would end up pumping in negative-ROI spend en masse, to obtain a link that isn’t worth much at all.
A Link You Can Get Isn’t Always A Link You Should Get
So, what’s the lesson here – besides supplying a directory map to make a bundle off of link groveling SEOs? The lesson is that a link you can get isn’t always a link you should get. And that’s obvious a lot of the time, but as it comes to replicating a competitor’s links, it’s a policy that will go ignored almost always as the two earlier factors pull on them to acquire the link.
Always stay rigorous in your evaluation of a link. A terrible link on a high ranking competitor’s link profile is still a terrible link. If you waver from this, someone might just be lurking with a website somewhere – waiting to take your money without returning the value you had hoped for.
Be conscious of your psychological biases when link building – especially “my high ranking competitor has this link, I should too” – because it’s the highest on the list of factors that will make you get a link that you never would have otherwise.