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I keep getting promotion codes from business.com stating that I can get a listing at $100 discount. However, that's still $199 and I'm not clear about the benefit. I would understand if I was paying for somewhere I could put I detailed profile (similar to what I can do with LinkedIn, CrunchBase or even Facebook for free) but it's just a text link.

I can't even find a single suitable category to use so I doubt potential customers would be able to find the link either. I would need to pay for multiple listings to get into all the categories that may be useful. However, I could do that with their PPC program and given the estimated clicks they tell me I will get it appears to be more economical.

In reality I believe that most people wouldn't even bother browsing through a directory hierarchy to find a suitable business these days. They would just use Google... and that seems to be the crux of their marketing message...

The emails they send me have quotes from Aron Wall saying that he is "a BIG buyer of [business.com] directory listings" and that "It is part of [his agencies] SEO process for the sites [they] care about most". It appears to me that I wouldn't really be buying a listing that was useful in itself, I would actually be purchasing a paid backlink from a reputable site in the theory that it would pass reputation on to my site in Google's eyes...

Does anyone have any recent experience with business.com listings and know anything about their current value (SEO or otherwise)? I thought that relevancy was more important for linking these days and the PageRank of the source page wasn't as important anymore.

Also, isn't 'paying for a backlink' just 'paying for a backlink', regardless about how it's sold? If the value of a business.com listing just relates to reputation that theoretically anyone can purchase then why should Google place much value that reputation?

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3 Answers 3

Their directory links are nofollow so their SEO value is zero (you can verify this by viewing the source of any directory page). This meets Google's guidelines for selling links so there isn't any penalty for business.com or the site purchasing the link.

The only potential value you would get from a listing there is traffic but I have yet to hear anyone rave about the traffic they get from business.com so it probably doesn't deliver enough traffic to be worth the cost even with $100 off.

<opinion>Their directory looks spammy and low quality. I don't think they have any quality guidelines so if your payment clears you're good enough to be listed. I don't think a listing there will enhance your reputation at all.</opinion>

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+1 and @Ewan: how do you believe they got your information? Hopefully they're not scraping WHOIS like Domain Renewal and their ilk... –  danlefree Apr 20 '11 at 18:57
    
business.com does actually have a set of guidelines and are supposed to be reviewing and endorsing the businesses that request listings. The nofollow links that you see are for PPC ads, not listings. Listings don't have it and I heard it wasn't needed because of the review and endorsement factor. –  Ewan Heming Apr 26 '11 at 9:45
    
I guess there's a fine line between "paid links" and "paid directory inclusion" based on the supposed human editorial review. I'm not sure how much weight Google actually puts on listings like this in reality. –  Ewan Heming Apr 26 '11 at 9:46

It depends on how old and established your website is. If its new with few links, and you are in a hurry, and you have a budget, do yahoo and business. The fact that you spend the money shows the search engines you are serious about your website. If the site is older and more established there will be little benefit.

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3  
Spending money to promote your website is NOT a ranking factor. Wow. –  John Conde Apr 21 '11 at 3:21
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It's not actually spending the money that sends a signal to the search engines. It's that fact that, in theory, sites like business.com and yahoo are long standing and reputable directories that only list reputable companies. If they list your site then it is supposed to mean that they are endorsing you. –  Ewan Heming Apr 26 '11 at 9:37

I've decided that the best way to see if a business.com listing is worth the money was to test it out. I've placed PPC ads into several categories and will see if I get any clicks. I should be able to roughly compare the cost of a yearly listing to the equivalent PPC charges.

If it's worth the money based on referral traffic alone then I will probably make the purchase. However, I don't intend to buy a listing for purely link building reasons as there are many more ways I can do that without having to pay and that are likely to be more effective.

Update: I set up PPC ads to run in 5 different relevant categoryies and they have been active for the past five days. Although it's a short period of time I would have expeted some form of response but the click count currently stands at... 1! I have observed the following from the campaign:

  1. The current business.com ad manager doesn't report on the number of impressions an ad has received. I'm not sure if they're trying to hide how few times an ad is viewed but it made the decision about value more difficult because I couldn't see if it was my ads not working or the directory itself that was the problem. If they at least told me the CTR then I would be in a better position.

  2. The PPC ads are at the top of the page and I bid high enough to be in the top two results. However, the paid listings are far down the page below the PPC ads, some additional ads (that look like they might be from Google) and some further category navigation links. The ad manager UI indicated that if I bid lower and dropped just one position in the PPC results I would get much less clicks. This means that listings in the categories I chose were very unlikley to have any response at all.

  3. Although some pages have a decent PR (between 4-7), there are a lot of links on the pages so it would be so diluted that the reputation value of a link would be limited.

Given this I don't see that, in my case (target market, potential categories and back link value), there is any reason to bother spending money on a business.com listing.

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