Does Anyone Care About Web Directories Anymore?

October 17, 2006

Other than Webmasters looking for links, that is.

I came across posts in multiple places today, discussing different aspects of Web directories. First, Search Engine Journal referenced a post on directories with the greatest “page strength” (which came from Aviva, itself a Web directory).

It’s interesting enough from a Webmaster perspective, because Webmasters want links from sites that search engines like, namely Google. But the disconnect is that the only reason these Web directories still exist is as a feeder for search engines. No one searches the directories–but a listing in the directories might enhance search engine results, and people actually use search engines.

I see this as sort of a problem for Bessed, and it’s part of the reason why I’ve shied away from using the term “directory” to describe our site. In some ways we are a directory, in that people can submit their sites and human editors add them (or don’t), but our goal is to be much more active than that, and to have our visitors engage with the site.

Here’s the comment I left at Search Engine Journal, which further describes my feelings on Web directories:

The problem with directories is that they’ve become worth very little because little is put into most of them. A paid directory is not seen as legitimate from a user perspective, because it is biased in favor of only those who pay, meaning it’s not even close to comprehensive.

Plus, directories are generally pretty static and boring. Once a link is added, it sits there indefinitely, with no changes, no new descriptions, like a bump on a log. There’s no attempt at timeliness and rarely an attempt by editors to go out and find sites that would make search results better. That’s why Webmasters look at directories but no one else does.

DMOZ takes the top spot by default, because no one else has really tried to create something worthwhile. But Webmasters also know that DMOZ has many editors who keep a stranglehold on certain categories for their own purposes.All this led me to start a new search site, Bessed, that is a human-powered search site/directory. There is no fee for inclusion and, because it’s built on WordPress blog software, you can request addition of your site directly on search results pages. You can also suggest other sites that are relevant, or even argue for why another site shouldn’t appear or why the rankings should be changed. We think it’s the next generation of directory-type sites, combining the benefits of human editors with a social media aspect to create better results.

The site is ad-supported, not supported by inclusion fees, so it is something that is actually useful for site visitors instead of being merely a place for Webmasters to submit in hopes of increasing their “Google juice”. And there will never be inclusion fees–Bessed will either sink or swim, but it will never bait and switch.

It’s an ambitious project, but we believe there is still a place for human-powered search, and we encourage Webmasters to submit to us.

I e-mailed in a similar message to the LED Digest discussion list (which I recommend by the way) when the subject of the worth of directories came up this week.

What do you think? Does anyone care about Web directories anymore?


One comment

  1. I think search engines should like web directories because they can easier categorize a site, since most of the directories are human-edited

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