SAF Directory: So Close, Yet So Far Off The Mark

Here’s a quick video review I created after reading the June edition of Floral Management from SAF. 

5 thoughts on “SAF Directory: So Close, Yet So Far Off The Mark”

  1. Yes, @JB, when you remove the “www” from the query there are 253 results (scroll to page 24 and you’ll see Google stops at 239 results). Including the Robot.txt file. It’s cute that they include a link to an XML sitemap, however … that sitemap only lists one page – the sitemap.

    The fact that 232 of the 239 results are without the “www” just highlights how bad their duplicate content problem is. They are getting indexed with and without the www (no canonical domain), and with both the nasty CMS URLs full of parameters and the “seo friendly” version of the URLs.

    With all of that – still, none of the pages I saw in a cursory look at the 239 results contain actual florist directory info.

  2. Hi Ryan,

    Hope all is well with you. First, thanks for being an avid reader of SAF’s Floral Management magazine. Second, for your thoughtful assessment of SAF’s directory.

    You raised good points about particular technical aspects about the directory but I wanted to share a wider perspective on directories in general. Although I didn’t state in the article the 12 outposts were ranked, they indeed are and there was a reason why I had directories at 12.

    I feel directories are a peculiar service since, if you get right down to it, you have mostly for-profit companies charging florists to list, then use this money to compete with them for a spot on page 1 of search results. Directories essentially leverage the serious reality that most florists within a geographic area are not optimizing their websites for search. This I believe is changing and that’s why you see more real, local florists filling up page 1. In the article, I gave instructions to consider a directory only if a directory pops up on page 1 when florists conduct a geographic search for a florist in their area.

    So I hope I don’t offend those directory businesses businesses, because everyone is free to make a buck in this great country of ours. But let’s cut to the chase. SAF is not in the directory business, so it’s never been a priority to optimize our directory to compete with florists (and/or other directories) for those precious spots on page 1.

    We’re in the member services business and the directory is yet another one of many services we offer florists. I may be wrong, but I believe many of those directory companies do not commit resources to representing florists in Washington, DC, sticking up for the industry when other gift providers smack down flowers, publishing a monthly magazine, three weekly and one bi-monthly e-newsletters and other pubs with great biz management info, provide great networking ops, education, and so on.

    However, regardless of intent in publishing a directory, you’ve provided great feedback on how to improve this service. We will consider eliminating the intermediate page and will re-visit whether our database (the directory is tied into our database which pushes real-time queries, rather static html) will allow us to provide a live link that will provide SEO benefits for florists listed. As for marketing, we simply do not have the budget to out-spend the paid services but we do promote the directory in all aspects of our public relations efforts, including our new blog (

    Btw, what’s your take on directories? Although we were picked for scrutiny among the lot (no worry, criticism is always welcome especially when you’ve provided recommendations), I bet florists would appreciate your guidance on whether they get their money’s worth for the ones that DO charge for their hard earned dollars.

    Always at your service and see you soon, regards, Renato

  3. @Renato, thanks for your comments.

    Firstly, let me address your broader comments on SAF: Yes, you guys do a lot of great work, and no where in here did I disparage that. This review was specifically targeted at the directory – not the CADs, negative adverts, events, or anything else SAF does for florists.

    You have a large audience of readers that relies on you to provide accurate information that will have a big impact on their business. It could be argued that successful management of their online marketing could be the single biggest factor in the survival of their shop. I did say in the review that I don’t envy you the job of distilling that info into digestible bites!

    Having said that, if the info is incorrect or even harmful, then it needs to be addressed.

    As the floral industry’s resident online expert, you are no doubt aware first of the importance of Google Places listings (though, if your outposts are ranked by value, maybe having GP at #6 (behind Flickr and FourSquare? Really?) means you’re undervaluing it?) for the healthy of a local business. Places listings are often blended with organic listings, so it’s critical to be strong in both areas. Where links are key for organic search, citations from authoritative sites are the equivalent for Google Places pages. Is there a site with greater authority potential in the floral industry than SAF? I’d be hard pressed to think of one.

    You are in an amazing position to be able to offer an authoritative link to boost florists’ organic results, and an excellent citation to benefit their Places page. That’s two-for-one awesomeness, and you’ve struck out twice on one pitch with the current directory model. Further, you’ve ignored advice and concerns from your members about this issue for years.

    So – when I read in your publication that: “[SAF] take your dues investment and pour it into ongoing search engine optimization to ensure it ranks high in searches” I nearly fell on the floor. At best, we can hope that this was just an overzealous editor or copy writer working from your notes to flush out some bullet points. At worst, it’s a blatant lie to your members, and I really hope that’s not the case.

    You asked about my take on directories, while commenting that you feel they are a threat and competitor to local florist rankings. What you failed to address is that directories – especially niche vertical directories – are the primary source of the citations used by Google Places.

    We have published several studies on floral directories on this blog, judging which are likely to drive the most search traffic. As far as which ones are most useful to seek inclusion, I suggest scanning the competitors results to see which directories are referenced most as a citation. The Local Citations tool from Whitespark is a great resource for automating this.

    I’d be happy to sit and talk with you about some detailed recommendations for the SAF directory when we meet in Dallas in a few weeks. You have the potential to deliver an awesomely beneficial tool for our industry – I hope you won’t keep hiding it under a basket 🙂

  4. Ranato, you said “We’re in the member services business…” It seems to me that a viable, worthwhile directory providing link juice to your “members” would be a great “service” to those same members.

    SAF’s unwillingness to update their directory functionality, was one of the factors in my decision to drop my SAF membership. SAF does an awesome job in some areas, yet chooses to ignore others, many florists do not understand why.

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