🠈  Disavowing Local Directories  🠊

Disavowing Local Directories

I've been interested in the way that local communities are represented on the web for several decades. I began developing directories back in the 1990s and unsuccessfully tried developing business models around the concept.

Local directories provide a valuable service. Such directories highlight local goods and community services.

The business model for a local directory is that such directories give out thousands of free outbound links. In return a few people, who like their community, give inbound links.

I built my directories by reading local web sites, newspapers and forums. I added affiliate links to bring in some income. I had a feature that let people submit links. Most of the submissions were spam. Sifting through the spam was time consuming; so I began asking for donations on the submission page.

It takes a minimum of ten minutes to review and list a site. I would spend days sifting through spam submissions and adding only a few links. I found that asking for a donation helped offset costs and it reduced the spam.

The Collapse of the Project

About eight years ago; Google decided that they wanted to dominate the local market. Google penalizing all of the local directories. Since I asked for donations on the submission page, I was guilty of the sin of providing paid links.

Google later told the SEO community that local directories were link farms and that webmasters needed to disavow local directories.

So, Instead of receiving submissions to the site, I started receiving pleas from desperate web masters begging me to remove their site.

To make matters worse. Google told webmasters that linking to sites that had reciprocal links would lower their page rank. Web masters began removing the links to my site from their pages.

I was not playing the SEO game. As mentioned in the top section. My business model was actually dependent on the inbound links.

Other Bad Things

Google's actions created an existential crisis for me. I built my directories to support people in the community. If what SEO experts said was true, then my listing sites was hurting people.

To make matters worse. I had exhausted the resources of my discount hosts. Upgrades at the time were prohibitively expensive.

Windows 10 installed an upgrade which destroyed my laptop. I was no longer able to edit photos and browsing the web was painfully slow.

I found a new host, but do to bugs and the poor design of PHP 7, the upgrade to the new service was far more difficult than I had anticipated.

Time for a Revival

Google has taken its dominate position in the local search world. It does not appear to be penalizing people for using local directories. So, I decided to take a stab at Reviving the Community Color project.

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