The Difference between Paid Links and Paid Directories for Lawyers
Chris Dreyer | April 17, 2014
Attorneys often find that there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to optimizing their sites. Google gives relatively straight forward standards on what is and is not acceptable practice for enhancing a site’s performance in terms of links.
What is a Paid Link?
This is pretty much self-explanatory. Any time you pay for a link that is considered against Google’s quality guidelines and makes a website subject to manual action or removal from the index. There are some caveats to that though.
Overall, Google’s core mission in terms of stopping behavior related to paid links is to provide a better user experience. That being said, having links where there was some consideration involved between one or more parties (and that provide a good user experience) probably wouldn’t be noticed under these guidelines.
For instance maybe you pay a notable legal blogger or legal professional in another practice area to do a guest post on your site and put a link from their site to yours to highlight relevant information for readers. This type of scenario creates a good experience for visitors. Conversely, paying link exchange sites for dozens or hundreds of spammy links creates a very poor user experience.
What is A Paid Directory?
A directory (or web directory) is a collection of websites organized by category. There are lots of free web directories however some of the best and most potent ones charge website owners for inclusion. People using paid directories can trust that the content they are looking at and websites they find are high quality.
On the white hat side, a paid link refers to paying a webmaster to insert a link in the copy of a web page. In actuality you could pay a website owner to put a link anywhere on their site and link it to yours.
A paid directory is a little different even though there is still a link leading back to the owner’s website. With a directory, moderators review a website for inclusion. It’s not as simple as paying a fee and getting a link to your site. Paid directories look at things like:
• The type of website (is it relevant to the directory?)
• Does the website provide value for users
In a nutshell, the standard for gaining acceptance to paid directories is higher. You should also be careful when paying for links of any kind. Steer clear of link exchanges or sites offering links for a fee. Exchanging links with colleagues or others that you trust is one thing. Buying them from someone you don’t know could potentially harm your site.
Examples of Quality Paid Directories:
Better Business Bureau
Chamber of Commerce Membership Directories