It's no secret that every modern business directory, whether local or global, is based on the classic member-driven link directory model. In recent years, this model has expanded significantly to include many new functions necessary for today's business reality. And, no matter what, most of the legacy core features also remain relevant.

One of the top legacy features is the link exchange. It forces the listing owner to post a backlink to your directory on their business website. This exchange is beneficial for both parties - one party advertises their business in your directory and attracts new customers, and the other party - you, increases the SEO ranking of the directory, and receives a reward for listing placement. Of course, this is not a perfect solution and requires some effort to ensure the quality of sites that link to your directory. However, this approach can make your website recognizable and help you attract more customers and investments.

Realizing the value of this feature we made the backlink checker a core function of the script. This feature is available since phpListings 1.0.4 and includes several components:

  • A new listing product option, which, if enabled, requires the listing owner to place a specific backlink on their business website for the listing to be published in the directory.
  • A detailed information block on the listing summary page that describes the link placement requirements.
  • A backlink checker that validates the backlink when adding a listing via the advertiser panel.
  • An automatic backlink checker tool that performs periodic checks and notifies the listing owner and the website administrator of an incorrect or missing backlink.


Backlink Checker Tool Activation.

The activation procedure for this feature is quite simple. It requires at least one listing product with the "Require Backlink" option switched on. This option enables automatic checks for backlink presence at the stage of adding a listing, and periodic checks that are performed every 7 days (configurable option) if the backlink periodic checker tool is enabled.

By default, the domain name of your directory will be offered as a backlink. For example, if your directory website is located at https://www.example.com, the script will automatically suggest this link as a backlink. It is also possible to use any custom URL as a backlink, see the configuration settings chapter below.

In the process of adding their listing, the user must place the proposed link unchanged on their business website which was specified in the "Website" field of the listing form. Detailed information about the link installation and the actual link itself appears on the listing submission page. An automatic checker will test the remote website for a proper backlink and, in case of an error, will prompt the user with a detailed error description.

It makes sense that after receiving multiple listing subscriptions with backlinks, you will want to periodically make sure that the users who posted their listings did not remove or change the backlink. With a periodic backlink checker, it's as easy as shelling pears. Enable the periodic backlink checker tool in the "Administrator - Settings - Settings - Other - Backlink Checker" section and it will check the backlinks and notify you and/or the listing owner in case of any backlink failure. The tool can also be configured to automatically suspend the listing subscription if the listing website is unreachable or the backlink is not found.

Note: when you enable the "Require Backlink" option for the listing product, you must have the "Website" listing form field activated for that product. This is required for the backlink checker facility to function properly.


Backlink Checker Configuration Settings.

Let's take a look at the configuration options that we have built into the tool for your convenience:

"Custom Backlink URL" - a custom URL that includes a domain name and the website path you want to be used as a backlink. This option overrides the default backlink that uses your directory website domain name.

"Backlink URL Template" - the backlink template for generating a backlink that users must post on their business website. The template must include the HTML code with the "<a>" tag with the "href" attribute. The default value of "<a href="{link}">{site_name}</a>" is recommended. The template may include the following patterns: the {link} pattern that is replaced with the backlink (autogenerated or custom) and the {site_name} pattern that outputs the directory website name specified in the "Administrator - Settings - Settings - General - Website Name" setting field. These patterns can be replaced with actual values right in the template, for example: "<a href="https://www.example.com/directory" title="Business Directory">Find us here!<br/><img src="https://www.example.com/assets/badge.png" alt="Business Directory Badge"/></a>"

"Reject "nofollow" Links " - reject backlinks that were modified by the listing owner to include the "rel="nofollow"" attribute.

The periodic checker has the following configuration settings available:

"Enable Periodic Checker" - enable the periodic backlink checker tool. Note that if this option is disabled, periodic checks are not performed and the backlink availability is tested on the listing submission stage only. The periodic checker is disabled by default.

"Days Between Checks" - the number of days (7 by default) for the tool to wait for the next backlink checking attempt for each individual listing.

"Hours Between Retries on Failure" - if the backlink was not found or the business website appeared to be unreachable, the tool can perform another checking attempt within several hours (6 by default) to make sure the website is still down or if the backlink was intentionally removed by the listing owner.

"Maximum Number of Retries" - the maximum number of retries the tool has to perform on the backlink that was identified as deleted or failed (8 by default).

"Send Client Notification on nth Retry" - leave this setting empty for the script not to send notifications to the listing owner in case of a backlink failure or set it to the sequential number of an attempt on which to send this email notification. For example, you have set the "Maximum number of retries" option to 8, which means to perform 8 attempts to check the backlink every 6 hours. You can set the "Send Client Notification on nth Retry" value to "8" for the tool to notify the listing owner about the backlink failure on the final retry. The "user_invalid_backlink" email template is used for this email notification.

"Send Administrator Notification on nth Retry" - similarly to the option above this one sends an email notification to the directory administrator. The email template name is "admin_invalid_backlink".

"Cancel Failed Listing Order on Maximum Retry Count" - enable this option for the tool to automatically cancel the listing subscription if the backlink was identified as deleted or failed. If this option is disabled, the tool just stops any further attempts after the "Maximum Number of Retries" value has been reached waiting for the directory administrator to correct the backlink or cancel the subscription manually. The email notification is sent to the listing owner on the automatic subscription cancellation, the email template name is "user_order_cancelled_invalid_backlink".

"Refund Remaining Funds on Order Cancellation" - the script may refund the remaining subscription funds on the order cancellation if this option is enabled or will just cancel the order without any refunds if disabled.


Failed Backlinks Monitoring and Analysis.

Check results are available in the "Administrator - Content - Listing Type - Invalid Backlinks" section, those sections are separate for each listing type. On this page you can find all listings with the backlink identified as unreachable, the current number of re-validation attempts, the date of the last verification, and the error code returned by the remote web server. You, as the administrator, can correct the listing website link manually or cancel the listing subscription.

It should be noted that this checker only works with the "Website" listing form field and is not suitable for custom form fields of the "Website" type.

Note: websites protected by Cloudflare cannot be reached in most cases and those backlinks may appear as broken. The public IP address of your website must be whitelisted in the site's Cloudflare settings panel for the backlink verification process to be successful.

The directory website domain name can not be used as a backlink for a listing.