News broke out in the SEO community WebmasterWorld recently that Google is banning/penalizing link directories. It was reported by some SEO professionals, that about 50% of the link directories have been de-listed by Google after a recent algorithm update. This action is believed to be manual rather than automated. What are link directories and why is Google Penalizing them? A web directory or link directory is an online website, which specializes in linking to other web sites and categorizing those links. Many webmasters and SEO'ers submit their website URLs to hundreds of these kinds of link directories to increase backlinks pointing to their websites. Google has been focusing heavily to improve the user experience of the visitors. People, who practice Black Hat SEO tactics usually utilize these link directories heavily to increase their backlinks and eventually improve their search results rankings. As per Google's latest statements, anything that does not improve visitor's experience is unnecessary and this type of link building is considered as non-content spam. Google is promoting backlinks, which they think, have been acquired naturally. Naturally acquired links through guest posts and by being featured in other blogs, actually provides extra value to the reader of the webpage. Many Link directories on the other hand, are dead because they have no human interaction. Apart from fetching backlinks to improve PageRank, many of these link directories are not going to be of much help in increasing loyal visitors or customers. Search Engine algorithms are getting smarter day by day and they are not giving any value to these kinds of link directories. These link directories generally do not bring any referral traffic and will not rank in search results. What does this mean to the webmasters? Although we know that Google relies more on link structure for ranking, using this older SEO technique will not be of substantial help. Webmasters should try to build links the natural way with similar or related websites because Google provides more value to such links. You can learn how to build natural links by reading our previous article Link Building Basics. Although, there are a few well maintained link directories which can drive traffic to your website. Instead of mass link submission, you should investigate the link directory for its value and authority before submitting the link.