Why Do Directories / Agents Outrank My Website?

This is another of those SEO questions which we get asked periodically by our business customers, here at Silicon Dales. While the question is not always the same, it goes something like this:

“Why do directories outrank our site?”


“Why do all these agency websites beat us in Google?”

The short answer to this question is very simple. Relevance.

Every time I talk SEO on this blog, or in person, I end up mentioning the word “relevance”. Search engines are designed to connect people with the most relevant information out there. It is how they make money – Google wouldn’t be so much used (and therefore so very very profitable for its shareholders), if it were delivering irrelevant results in its search engine results pages.

Am I saying your website is irrelevant? Of course not! But, I am saying that the directory website or agency website is likely to be more relevant than your website for many popular searches.

Why so? Well, consider what a person is searching for, and what you would like your website to rank highly for.

Let’s imagine, for a moment, you run a Bed & Breakfast in the fictional Yorkshire Dales village of “Leyham”. You happen to know that people interested in travelling to the Yorkshire Dales will be looking online for “Bed & Breakfasts in the Yorkshire Dales”. You also happen to know that some people will be searching online for “Bed & Breakfasts in Leyham”. You’d like, therefore, for your website about a bed & breakfast in Leyham, Yorkshire Dales, to show up number one in the search engine results. But it doesn’t.

This is because of relevance.

The key phrase being searched for is paramount here. If a user is looking for “bed & breakfasts in the Yorkshire Dales” he or she is likely to be more interested in a page cram-packed full of B&Bs than one featuring only one bed & breakfast. That directory page of B&Bs is more relevant than your website page to this search phrase.

Likewise, the search for B&Bs in the village itself may be more likely to end up at a local directory than at your website.

What Can We Do To Prevent or Fix This?

But, is there anything you can do to counteract this?

Yes, there is lots you (and we, at Silicon Dales, on your behalf) can do to overcome this type of problem.

  1. Type in the searches you’d like to show up for in Google – any directories which do display, consider adding your business to them! If you can get this for free, then excellent. Be sure to put a website link in when possible. It may not be worth paying for, however, so be sure to evaluate the potential Return on Investment if there is a fee.
  2. Consider some highly targeted Pay Per Click advertising through Google Adwords (those “ads” at the top and right-hand side of search results are designed to be highly clicked) – watch what you are paying, though, as this space comes at a premium.
  3. Think about ways in which you can make your website (or at least some of its pages) more relevant for the search phrases you’d like to show up better for. If you want to show up better for “Bed & Breakfasts in Leyham” then maybe you need a comprehensive page about just that! You’d be pointing out your competitors, though, so make sure the risk/reward balance is right.
  4. Follow industry best practice on search engine optimization – don’t spam, don’t reciprocal link, don’t buy or sell links to websites, don’t engage in “unnatural” practices designed solely to influence search engine rankings.
  5. Talk to us at Silicon Dales – we are experts at organic (free) search engine optimization, so your website will not only pick up more traffic from this, but also, when it does, convert interested visitors into paying customers.

SEO / Optimization is not Everything!

But Optimization is not the be-all and end-all. In fact, we recommend you don’t do anything out of the ordinary, at all. We believe that “SEO” as an industry is going to disappear, as Google and other search engines become more sophisticated (and they already are very sophisticated, given the amount of research and development which is put into Google’s algorithm!).

As if to flag this up, Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts explains how they like to judge web pages and websites on merit, in the below video:

So what can you do? Try to get there on merit is the golden rule. If you want to be number one, focus on being the most relevant for your audience. Everything else in your website is window dressing: important, but ultimately not as important as the products, services (and website information) you are providing your customers (audience).

Good luck with your website and your business!

Have you experienced times when agencies and directories have outranked your website? Leave your comment below – feel free to ask questions, it is the best way to learn!

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