Before you could google your plumber, in the old days, you had to look up the phone number in a printed phonebook or Yellow Pages. With the rise of the internet, online directories became popular, such as Craigslist and DMOZ, one of the largest human-edited directories on the web. While online directories may no longer be as popular as they once were, they can still have value for SEO, especially in the Netherlands. In Dutch these are called startpagina’s.
Directories differ from search engines in that they are organized hierarchically, with categories and subcategories that allow users to navigate to specific topics or businesses. Search engines, on the other hand, use algorithms to scan the entire web and return results based on relevance to the search query. Online directories were successful in their early days because they provided a way to find businesses and services quickly and easily in a specific area or industry. However, with the rise of search engines, directories began to decline in popularity.
Many directories allow businesses to include links to their website, which can improve their search engine rankings. However, it’s important to be cautious when using directories for SEO, as some low-quality directories can actually harm your rankings. In the Netherlands, there are a great number of directories that can be used for SEO purposes. Besides the known company listings, Dutch directories can also consist of only links, the so-called startpagina’s (start pages).
What is a startpagina?
The very first directory in the Netherlands was Startpagina.nl, launched in 1998. Today, a link from Startpagina.nl is still valuable. You can expect to pay € 25 to € 50 per year for a link from this strong domain. All directories that came after are called startpaginaklonen, (start page clones). The second strongest domain is Startkabel.nl, followed by Goedbegin.nl. Other good ones are Frisbegin.nl and Jouwweb.nl. There are literally thousands of domains with directories.
Screenshot taken from https://websiteseochecker.com/domain-authority-checker
It’s essential to understand that directory pages are subpages that contain links around a specific topic, divided into categories. So the Startpagina.nl for pest control (ongediertebestrijding) is https://ongediertebestrijding.startpagina.nl/ for example. Typically directories have commercial links and banners from the owning company behind the directory. Sometimes, there is the option to place texts and pictures with the categories, which is better appreciated by Google.
Links from directories often have a good domain authority (DA, from MOZ), a good domain rating (DR, from Ahrefs), and a reasonable TF (Trust flow, from Majestic). Many directories get low traffic.
How do directory links help with Dutch SEO?
Dutch directory links are the cheapest links you can get, either for free by simply asking, via link trading or via purchase, typically in bulk. And still, you may find big Dutch brands still using directory links. The main reason: there is a certain value to these links.
These are the three reasons to use Dutch directory links:
- Diversification of your backlink profile. Directory links are relatively easy to get and give you relevant links from various Dutch domains. They quickly increase the number of domains that link to your site.
- Directory links are part of the Dutch backlink profile. These subdomains are very often required to have a minimal number of links spread over a number of categories. 20 backlinks in 10 different categories are often the directive. People creating directories for their own 1 to 4 backlinks, have to add a lot more for their directory to be published. Often, they’ll Google on these subjects to find noteworthy links. Because of this practices, most companies have directory backlinks.
- Directory links quickly provide better SEO statistics. While Google doesn’t give a rat’s ass about SEO statistics, other people may do, like sponsored content advertisers. Directory links can quickly help to increase your Domain Authority, Domain Rating and to a lesser extent, your Trust Flow. But please remember that whatever the SEO metric states, it has nothing to do with how your site will perform in Google. There is only correlation, not causation.
How do I use directory links in my Dutch linkbuilding strategy?
Directory links are part of a varied Dutch link profile. Use these best practices to get the most out of them:
- Use directories mostly for branding keywords. The 2023 helpful content update changed the keywords you could use. Before, directories were ideal in creating super relevant backlinks based on your keywords. Now, directory links are best used for branding backlinks.
- Choose your directories. When buying directory links through services like Fiverr, be aware that you’ll often end up on very general directory links, with words such as kitchen-living or financial. As a result, there is often no relevance to your website and there are also hundreds of links per page. This impacts the link value. Ask for a few examples of start pages so you know your precious link won’t be put in the middle of Viagra or Bitcoins.
- Check the metrics. Some parties not only create the directories, but also the domain itself with a directory script. In that case, be sure to check the spam score (from MOZ), because they often purchase expired domains with interesting SEO statistics that sometimes also have an extremely high spam score.
- The indexation depends on the spider behavior. Directories get their spider traffic (Google’s way of searching the web) mainly through the root domain and are depending on navigation. Indexing can take weeks. You can also ‘register’ the new links with Google via a ping service. One that works nicely is Mass Ping or PingFarm.