Best of the Web

On April 22, 2013, I evaluated the Best of the Web directory, using the criteria developed for the Second Quarter of reviews. As a result of my review, I have rated the directory at 83%. The Best of the Web Directory was in the top ten of directories reviewed during the First Quarter, so it will be competing with the other nine, as well as ten additional directories, during the Second Quarter.

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I last reviewed the Best of the Web directory on January 31, 2013. As one of the top ten directories from the 1st Quarter, it is in contention for the 2nd Quarter reviews as well. The last time around, it tied with the Jasmine Directory for seventh place, but the evaluation criteria that I am using in the 2nd Quarter is different.

Best of the Web is one of the oldest and most respected web directories in the industry, particularly for those looking for SEO advantages from a web directory listing.

While many other directories have lost PageRank recently, Best of the Web has gained. When I last reviewed the directory, the Google PageRank of its index page was 6; today it is a 7. Google has indexed 38,400,000 of its pages.

BOTW has an Alexa Traffic Rank of 9,109, an SEMRush Rank of 33,273, and its SEMRush Search Traffic number is 15,635, while its MajesticSEO backlinks are 9,428,999. Its seoMoz Page Authority is 86, and the mozRank is 4.6.

Best of the Web has 373 StumbleUpon stumbies, 286 Twitter tweets, and 353 Google +1 clicks.

Submissions for inclusion within the Best of the Web directory start at $149.95. A web directory and local listing will cost $199.95. New to BOTW are ProListings, which appear alongside standard listings in directory categories, which maintains the integrity of the directory, but allows webmasters to highlight important site content. At this time, the cost for ProListings is 19.70 per month, which allows for three sub-listings.

The domain, botw.org, is nineteen years old, being established in 1994. The domain first appears in the Internet Archive on December 21, 1996. At that time, it was not a web directory, but the home of the Best of the Web Awards, whose purpose was to highlight the websites that showed the "quality, versatility, and power of the World Wide Web," based on votes cast by users of the Web. This continued through 1998, after which the domain lay dormant until early 2003, when it made its debut as a web directory. Best of the Web first appears in the Internet Archive as a web directory on April 20, 2003.

In the 2nd Quarter of reviews, I am using a criteria that views the directories from the perspective of a directory user, rather than trying to reconcile the needs of the user and the webmaster, as I did in the 1st Quarter of reviews. The criteria has changed, so the number are likely to change. The Aviva Directory did much better this time around, numerically, than it did during my 1st Quarter review, but it's too early to say how the top ten from last quarter will do comparatively.

During the 2nd Quarter, I will be looking at four major criteria: Aesthetics, Content, Intuitiveness, and Quality, with a possibility of 20 percent assessed for each section; plus I am allowing myself up to five extra credit points for features of a directory that may not have been covered within these criteria.

When evaluating a directory that I had looked at during the 1st Quarter, such as the Best of the Web directory, I will be looking at it fresh, as much as possible, so it's entirely possible that I might contradict myself, if you were to compare what I saw in it last January with what I'll be looking at today. That's okay. Since reviews are largely subjective, and people don't always see things the same way from one month to another.

Aesthetics - 13%

The Best of the Web directory has a simple, but clean, look about it. It colorization is a basic blue text on a white background, with a touch of orange. It doesn't jump out at you, either in a good or a bad way.

The index page of the directory fits onto one screen easily, and I like that. Except for Kids & Teens, its top-level categories are all one word. Although I prefer symmetry in the main menu items, the fact that the Kids & Teens category is in the direct center of the menu doesn't detract too badly. At least they didn't colorize it, as so many of the other directories have followed the Open Directory Project into doing. Anyone looking for something more closely resembling originality might consider "Under 21" for such a category, and I promise not to copyright the idea.

A few years back, Best of the Web separated its Regional tree from the rest of the top-level categories, placing it beneath the others, perhaps so that they could include more of its subcategories. That's a nice touch, as the regional tree is much different from the topical categories.

Best of the Web makes good use of @links in its subcategories, as well as the above and below the line feature introduced by the Open Directory Project. That makes for a cleaner look that not only adds to the appearance of its subpages, but makes them easier to navigate, as well.

Content - 20%

Best of the Web has a lot of content, and the majority of it has been added by its editing staff, which increases the percentage of useful links in the directory. Additionally, Best of the Web utilizes an automated program that detects bad links, so very few of its listings are bad.

Intuitiveness - 20%

The Best of the Web directory uses a category structure that is well thought out, although similar to the Open Directory Project; which might be expected since many of its editors came from the ODP.

Still, it's an effective taxonomy, well supplemented by the use of @links, place of differing types of subcategories below or beneath a line, related (see also) links and, if that isn't enough, the directoy includes links to related pages in Wikipedia, and to categories within the directories operated by the Open Directory Project and Yahoo.

Quality - 10%

As mentioned above, the Best of the Web directory includes a large percentage of useful links that were discovered and added to the directory by editors employed by the directory.

Sites are generally placed in appropriate categories, and titles tend to represent the actual title of the site being listed. It is clear that submitted sites are reviewed, edited as necessary, and moved to appropriate categories.

However, the Best of the Web Directory subscribes to the skimpy, sentence fragment form of site descriptions, with most descriptions containing no more than twenty words, and often far less.

Usefulness - 15%

The in-site search used by the Best of the Web directory returns relevant and well organized results to queries.

At one time, I believe that Best of the Web included category descriptions but I am not seeing them. Well written, informative, and unique category descriptions are not only useful to the users of a directory but might tend to attract search engine spiders as well, so it would be a shame if they removed such a useful feature.

BOTW's "What's New" section offers unique articles on a variety of topics which are then linked to categories and subcategories containing content related to the article.

Extra Credit - 5%

Besides its general web directory, Best of the Web includes a UK Directory for sites within the United Kingdom, a Blog Directory, and a Local Directory, each of which add content and usefulness to the whole.

Overall Rating - 83%

As a result of my evaluation of the Best of the Web directory, I have rated it at 83%.

Comments

In assigning only ten out of a possible twenty percentage points to the Quality of the Best of the Web directory, I do not mean to imply that they are sloppy, or that they let things go. BOTW is very well maintained, and sites listed within the directory very likely meet the directory's editorial standards.

It is the standard itself, not the implementation of it within the Best of the Web directory, that I disagree with. It is my belief that the standard that called for descriptions that were all too brief, and grammatically incomplete sentences, was developed for a time when server space and bandwidth were at a premium, and most users of a directory were connected to the Internet through a dialup. This is no longer the case today, so I think it's time to move beyond that.

At its core, a web directory is itself a web site, and if I were reviewing a web site whose content consisted of sentence fragments and half-formed thoughts, I don't know that I would consider that site to be of high quality. Nevertheless, Best of the Web is excellent in many other ways, and I believe this is demonstrated in this assessment.

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