Each quarter, Web Directory Reviews Org evaluates and rates twenty web directories according to a defined standard and, at the end of the quarter, the top ten directories are highlighted.
What is a Web Directory?
Sometimes referred to as Internet directories or link directories, web directories categorize and link to other web sites on the Internet. A web directory is not a search engine, although many web directories include search features. Rather than displaying lists of web page results based on keywords, the key function of a web directory is to categorize and list web sites based either on the content of the web site or the location of the entity that the web site represents. To give an example, a web site for a widget manufacturing company in Santa Cruz, California might be listed in a widget category, or subcategorized according to the specific type of widgets produced, or it might be listed in a category for Santa Cruz, California. Some web directories may list the site both topically and regionally.
What is the Purpose of a Web Directory?
The purposes of a web directory are two-fold. Their original purposes were to assist Internet users in finding what they were looking for on the Web, and this continues to be true. The secondary purpose of a web directory has, to a large extent, become the primary purpose for many today, and that is to provide a source of back links to assist website owners in obtaining good place for their site in the various search engines, such as Google or Bing.
With the improvement of search engine technology over the past several years, not as many people are turning to web directories when they are looking for something on the Internet. Most will opt to simply enter keyword into a search engine. However, some people do continue to use them for their original purpose, myself being one of them. Search engines change their algorithms from time to time and often, during a transition, search results are less than helpful. On such occasions, especially, I often turn to a reliable web directory. I find that I do this most often when I am looking for something in a particular geographical place, and usually after I have already conducted a search on a search engine.
Search Engine Optimization
Today, the biggest advantage to web directory listings are that they lend an advantage in search engine placement. Contrary to propaganda, nothing Google has done has adversely affected the value of a link in a reputable web directory. When your web site is listed and appropriately categorized in one of the top directories, this will lend credibility to the web site, and any keywords or phrases used in the title or description of the site may assist the search engine in properly classifying the web site in its search results. In other words, a good listing in one of the better web directories may help your site rank higher on searches that use the same keywords and phrases that were used to describe your site in a web directory listing.
In such a manner, even though your web site may receive few direct visits to your web site from the web directory, the listing may lead to your site placing higher in search engine results on Google, Bing, or other search engine results, resulting in indirect traffic to the web site. On the other hand, listings in poorly managed directories may actually harm your search engine placement.
What Should I Look For in a Web Directory?
There are a lot of things that you may want to look for in determining whether or not to submit your site to a particular web directory, and most of them are not absolutes. In general, a web directory should direct its users to useful content on the Internet. For this to occur, the content has to be there and it must be organized in such a manner that it can be found.
Browse through the web directory, looking to see whether site listings are properly categorized and subcategorized. A web directory that goes only two or three categories deep may have page rank but if your site is going to be listed among other sites whose topics differ greatly from your own, that listing is less likely to be helpful to you, either from organic clicks from the web directory itself, or in helping your site to be properly classified in external search engines. I have found that it is better for my web site to be in an appropriate subcategory with no page rank, if it will be listed among other quality sites that relate to the topic of my own site, than for it to be listed in a higher level category with page rank, but where my site will be listed among multiple other sites whose topics do not relate to my own.
Does the categorization structure make sense? Browse the categories to see how difficult it is for you to find specific topics or types of web sites. Is the categorization structure intuitive and well organized, or is it confusing or haphazard? Well maintained web directories may have differing taxonomies, and it might take some time for you to get used to the structure that is being used, but it should make sense to you, if only after the fact.
Browse through the web directory, paying particular attention to the titles and descriptions of other sites that are listed in there. Titles should represent the actual titles of the web site, although they might be altered somewhat for space limitations. Descriptions should adequately describe the content of the web sites being listed, and they should read easily. Lists of keywords or overly promotional language in titles or descriptions may indicate that the web directory is not maintained by human beings, and would tend to indicate that the web directory is not of good quality. If listed site titles and descriptions look like spam to you, then that may not be a good placement for your web site.
Are other listed web sites properly structured into appropriate categories and subcategories? If it appears that web sites are listed wherever the submitters or submission services submitted them, regardless of appropriateness, this may also indicate that the web directory is not adequately maintained by human beings, and you probably wouldn’t want your web site listed there.
How many other web sites are listed in the directory? If there are very few other site listings, this may indicate either that it is a very new directory or, more likely, that it does not employ anyone to add content, which would make it a more valuable resource for your own site listing. You may also wish to see if any of your competitors are listed in the directory that you are considering.
Good quality web directories are edited by human beings who will review your site submission for appropriateness, according to the individual directory’s guidelines, and who may edit the site’s title, description and placement, if indicated. Generally speaking, the better web directories do not guarantee that your site will be listed, although some will refund the submission fees from sites that are not accepted, while others may allow webmasters to substitute an acceptable site for one that was found to be unacceptable, for some reason. Others will simply reject the submission.
Unfortunately, you cannot take every web directory at its word that it is human edited, as many of those that claim to be human edited are not, as a look through its listings will indicate. Many web directories will claim to be human edited because someone reviews, approves or rejects submitted site listings, but if it is to be done well, the job goes far beyond that.
Ideally, when a web site listing is submitted to a directory, an editor will review the listing to see whether or not it qualifies for listing according to the guidelines of the web directory, which will vary from one to another. Many will not accept gambling or adult sites, for example.
The editor will then check to see that the web site has been submitted to the appropriate category, as many web masters and submission services will submit sites to higher level categories that may have a higher page rank but are not the most correct placement for the site listing. If the editor determines that the web site was submitted to an inappropriate category, some editors may reject the listing, but most will simply move it to the appropriate category.
The editor will also review the title and description to ensure that they adequately describe the web site and that they meet the guidelines of the web directory, making changes as indicated. Although you may lose some of the keywords that you had hoped to have in your web site description, overall these are good things, and in many cases you will find that the site description has been improved.
If I see a gambling site, a Viagra site, a mortgage company site, and a California real estate company all in the same category, I can be fairly certain that no rational human being has reviewed these listings for correct placement, and I would hesitate to add my web site listing to the mix.
In my opinion, human editors are a necessary component of a reliable, useful web directory, because they perform many tasks that cannot be effectively automated. Among the tasks that human editors should perform are the approval or rejection of site link submissions, based on a criteria that is designed to build a useful directory. Human editors should review the content of web sites in order to determine their suitability for inclusion in the directory, rather than simply accepting anything that someone is willing to pay for. Editors should review submitted information, such as titles and descriptions, to prevent spam, keyword stuffing, or overly promotional language. Human editors are needed to seed the directory with worthwhile listings, thus providing content and encouraging web site owners to want their listings included, as well.
Human editors should review existing content in order to remove or replace dead links, and to move or remove those whose contents may have changed considerably, rendering them no longer appropriate for the category in which they are in. While automated processes may be used to remove dead links from public view, human editors are needed in order to determine whether the problem is a domain or URL change, in which case it can be corrected, or to replace dead sites with live ones having similar content, thus ensuring that categories are not left empty.
Human editors should be involved in restructuring the web directory’s taxonomy in order to accommodate the growth or diminution of directory content, maintaining the relevancy and usefulness of the directory.
While the value of a web directory listing today lies more in its value in enhancing a web site’s placement in external search engines than in the amount of organic traffic the directory is likely to send to listed web sites, I do receive direct traffic from directories that my sites are listed in and I am of the opinion that web directories that are structured and maintained so that they can be easily navigated will also be more effectively spidered by external search engines.
Although often faulty, search engine algorithms are intended to give priority to web sites that are of good quality, so when web sites, or web directories, are of good quality and relevant to what the searcher is looking for, they are more apt to be found, even without employing complicated or expensive SEO tricks.
Why Another Directory Review Site?
Because most of the ones that I have seen are useless, either because they were put up for the sole purpose of promoting one particular web directory and are, thus, misleading, or because they haven’t been updated in years, and no longer represent the true status of the web directories being reviewed.
Also, to be honest, I have worked with web directories for the past several years so I thought that, as long as I am looking at web directories, I may as well review them.
There are hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of web directories on the Internet and, although there are some very good ones, the vast majority of them are junk. There are also dozens of web site submission services, many of which will take your money and do nothing positive for your web site placement or traffic. Many, in fact, have the potential of harming your web site placement.
When a web site submission service promises to submit your site to dozens or hundreds of web directories, beware, as there aren’t more than about ten that you would want to have your web site listed in, if that.
A mistake that many people make, including myself, is one of impatience, and an over-emphasis on such matters as search engine optimization and page rank, at a time when the focus should be on content.
Content and time will often bring about the appropriate results by themselves. Otherwise, once you have provided the content, there are search engine optimization steps that can be taken, and web directories should not be left out of any SEO scheme.
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Some common ranking tools are Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Rank, Moz Authority, and Majestic SEO Citation/Trust Flow.
Long considered the gold standard in search engine optimization, PageRank has been deprecated by Google in recent years. While PageRank was formerly updated every time its bot crawled the pages and its indexes were updated, Google now updates its PageRank infrequently, and is no longer considered a reliable metric. As of the fourth quarter of 2014, I will no longer be including the Google PageRank statistic in my reviews, as Google has officially announced that it would no longer be updating its PageRank toolbar.
Alexa Traffic Rank
Commonly seen on websites and directories, Alexa Traffic Rank measures traffic from visitors using the Alexa toolbar. Because its data is limited to those using its toolbar, and the ease in which it can be manipulated, Alexa Traffic Rank is no longer considered to be a reliable indicator of web traffic. Yet, it remains a selling point so I will include it in my reviews.
Moz Domain Authority
Originally known as SEOmoz, Moz is a software development company that specializes in search engine optimization. Its Domain Authority represents a prediction on how a website will perform in search engine rankings. It is useful for comparing one site with another, as well as for tracking the strength of a site over time. While Domain Authority measures the predictive ranking strength of entire domains or subdomains, its Page Authority measures the strength of an individual page.
Majestic SEO Citation/Trust Flow
Majestic SEO's flow metrics are grouped into two categories: trust flow and citation flow. Citation Flow is a metric that seeks to indicate how influential a page is, based on the number of sites that link to it. Trust Flow reports on the trustworthiness of a page, based on its proximity to trusted sites. Links from trusted neighborhoods are more valuable than those from spammy neighborhoods.
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The WDR Directory of Directories lists general, comprehensive, topical and regional web directories, as well as blog and forum directories, and a variety of niche directories. Please visit the WDR Directory of Directories.
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