Are links from DeclareMedia directories of low or high quality?

Well, of course we’re going to say they’re of high quality, but don’t take our word for it. Rand Fishkin, of SEOmoz, is one of the world’s leading SEO gurus. He posted in 2007 on exactly the topic of what makes a directory high or low quality, so let’s examine what he said and how DeclareMedia’s directories stack up.

Rand gave 10 criteria he uses for determining the quality of a directory. You can read the details of what he meant by clicking on the link above, as I will only post the short label here. I’m going to grade DeclareMedia’s directories in each area on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best. DM’s directories do not necessarily rank highly in every one of Fishkin’s criteria, but where they don’t they make up for it in the other areas.

1. Selective -10. Our directories are the epitome of “selective”. Each directory is dedicated to a particular niche that is limited by industry and geography, and we only accept submissions that are 100% relevant.

2. Built for humans, not search engines – 8. We designed our directories with the knowledge that if we made them good for humans, they would also be good for search engines. But the human aspect came first. We made the directories extremely simple, providing the information we felt would be most relevant to people, and leaving out fancier aspects of many directories which we feel make them clunky, clumsy, and difficult for humans to use. However, in leaving some things out, there are perhaps some things we’ve missed that could make the directories better. I think we’ll get to a 10 eventually, but to give ourselves a 10 right now would be to say there is no room for improvement, which I don’t believe is ever the case.

3. Well referenced – 1. What Rand means here is are there lots of links to our directories? No, our directories most likely have virtually no incoming links. This is largely a function of them all having been launched very recently and we hope that will improve substantially over time.

4. Specific, not general -10. See #1.

5. Part of a trusted domain – 5. Rand says “Directories that are built on domains by themselves can be an indication of low quality (though there are plenty of counter examples here, too).” I’d emphasize the word “can” in Rand’s statement, as well as his disclaimer that there are plenty of counter examples. We’re working on being the counter examples, but to the larger statement, no, our domains are not exactly “highly trusted” because they are brand-spanking new sites. Their trust and value will develop over time as we focus on the other criteria.

6. Unique – 5. Obviously we use a common template for all our directories because we couldn’t manage them all if we made every single directory unique. If all our directories were made with static HTML instead of being database driven, and they all looked different–not just as a matter of design but in the underlying code as well, then they would undoubtedly be more unique. But again, where there are shortcomings here we feel they are overshadowed by the high quality, user-contributed content on each site, and the high marks we have in the other areas.

7. Useful – 10. This is more of a potential grade than an actual one. Most of our directories are so new at this point that they have no listings, which isn’t very useful. But once they are populated with content they will be quite useful, unlike many other directories that are relatively useless even after they are full of content.

8. Does not link to bad sites/neighborhoods – 10. This one is easy. We only link to relevant companies/organizations that list themselves on our directories. If we see strange stuff, we’ll delete it.

9. Ranks well – 10. Our directories have been ranking extremely well in short periods of time.

10. You’ll know it when you see it – 7. From a design standpoint there is certainly some room for improvement, and since our directories are new there are other areas for improvement, like actually getting some listings. But for the most part, what makes a directory bad is more about what it has than what it lacks, and we lack what makes most directories bad. Trust me, I’ve seen enough bad ones to know our directories look nothing like them.

Now, you may disagree with my take on these criteria. If you do, please chime in. We’re trying to improve these directories to provide value to those who list on them, and your comments and feedback are invaluable.