Best of the Web

On January 31, 2013, I reviewed the Best of the Web directory, awarding the web directory sixty-three out of a possible one hundred points.
Web Directory Review of: Best of the Web

Aesthetics - 3/5

The design of the Best of the Web directory is not unpleasant. It is simple, and that's not a bad thing. Nevertheless, there is nothing that stands out as impressive.

I can't tell from the web site, or its source code, which web directory software was used to produce the site, so it may even have been developed in-house.

Taxonomy - 5/10

The taxonomy of the BOTW web directory nearly mirrors that of the Open Directory Project, except that it adds a top-level category for Finance. Quite likely, its cadre of editors came from the Open Directory Project, as many of us have, so I suppose that this is category structure that they were comfortable with.

Please don't misunderstand, there is nothing particularly wrong with the taxonomy of the Open Directory Project. It was very well thought out, and argued, over many years, and even directories such as Yahoo borrowed much of it. Nevertheless, I cannot credit Best of the Web for its taxonomy, since it borrowed it from the ODP. Whenever I review the Open Directory Project, I will likely give them the points for the taxonomy.

I can see that the Best of the Web directory separates its Regional top-level category from the others, allowing them to list the eight most trafficked subcategories

Moving beneath the first-level categories, I can see that the taxonomy of many of its subcategories differs somewhat from the ODP. For one thing, where the ODP separates subcategories above and below the fold, BOTW separates its subcategories into three areas, which can greatly help in differentiating different types of subcategories from one another.

A good use that the directory makes of its ability to separate into three parts is that, in many of its categories, BOTW uses the middle area to @link to related content in its blog directory, not requiring users to browse both its main directory and its blog directory independently. This will also, of course, encourage spiders to delve into its lower-level blog categories, lending great page rank.

The Best of the Web directory uses @links extensively. While this may detract somewhat from the aesthetics of the directory, it does make it easier for someone to find what they are looking for, and I expect that it transfers page rank into the deeper levels of the directory.

Quality Control - 5/10

The Best of the Web directory employs a staff of editors who review sites, seed categories, and perform other tasks; however, it appears that the majority of its web site listings use a different standard than I would use. With some exceptions, site descriptions are skimpy and nearly devoid of useful keywords, and I am seeing several site titles that consist of the domain name rather than the title of the site.

For example, one site listing gives "" as the title when a visit to the site shows that the site title is actually "Museum Spot". This suggests to me that the editor didn't actually review the site; and it wouldn't be necessary to review the site since the description consists of only five words.

On the subject of site descriptions, they should not be heavily key-worded, as in lists of keywords rather than descriptive text, but they should describe the content of the web site, and a good description will include many of the keywords that are indeed descriptive of the content of the web site.

There are some notable exceptions. Web sites listed in its "Kids & Teens" category have descriptions that are truly descriptive. As with other human edited directories, site titles and descriptions differ from one editor to another, and these differences can be seen throughout the directory. Several areas of the directory are very well done, while others are less so. Unfortunately, skimpy descriptions appear to be the rule, rather than the exception.

Maintenance - 8/10

I have not found any dead links or empty categories, although there are several subcategories that have only one or two site listings. I don't consider that to be a bad thing, though. My guess is that the directory employs an automated process to remove dead links from public view, and that the human editors may be simply playing catch-up when it comes to repopulating categories that are left with only a couple of listings.

Google Page Rank - 7/10

The Google Page Rank for the Best of the Web directory's main page is 6. For the most part, that drops down to 5 in second-level categories. Its third-level categories retain a page rank of 3 or 4. I am seeing several fourth-level categories with a GPR of 3, although some have no page rank.

In all of several categories that I have looked at, its Regional categories lose their page rank at the third-level.

According to the criteria that I have set up for evaluation, I am assigning one additional point to the Google Page Rank of BOTW's main page.

Alexa Traffic Rank - 4/5

The Alexa Traffic Rank of the Best of the Web directory is 9,313.

SEO Ranking - 4/5

BOTW's SEMRush Rank is 30,980, and its SEMRush Search Traffic is 18,106. MajesticSEO back links indicate 9,283,671. Normally, I would check to see how many of the Best of the Web directory's pages have been indexed in Google but that's not operational today. It shows 210 back links in Google.

In a search of "web directory", the BOTW domain shows up in the middle of the third page of results in Google, number four on page one in the same search in Bing's results, and as the third result on page one of Yahoo's results.

Directory Content - 9/10

Best of the Web has an impressive number of site listings throughout its directory, so it is clear that they have editors seeding its categories, and providing useful content.

Whereas most web directories concentrate their regional efforts on the United States and Canada, the Best of the Web directory has an impressive number of site listings in Australia, as one example, and in other locations outside of North America.

Additionally, Best of the Web includes a Blog Directory, as well as a UK Directory, both of which are reasonably well populated.

SEO Content - 4/5

Apart from its directories of web site listings, Best of the Web also features a Local Directory of businesses, including those without web sites, and a Senior Housing Directory.

Prior to its regeneration as a web directory sometime after 1998, Best of the Web was a project of the State University of New York at Buffalo. Between 1994 and 1998, Best of the Web highlighted those places on the Internet that best showed the quality, versatility, and power of the World Wide Web, publishing the results of a contest that featured the winners of awards given in thirteen categories. The archives of the Best of the Web's days before it became a web directory are retained here, as an interesting retrospective.

Another nice feature is its "What's New" section, which archives directory additions by day, month and year, as well as monthly articles on a variety of topics represented within the directory. These features link to subcategories of the directory, not only providing something of interest to those who are browsing the directory, but also encouraging search engine spiders to delve deeper into its category structure.

Cost for Review - 1/10

Best of the Web offers both annual and permanent listings, charging $149.95 per year for its annual option, and $299.95 as a one-time fee for a permanent listing. For $199.95, a business can have both a web site listing and placement in Best of the Web's Local listings.

When sites are submitted to the directory, an editor will review the submission and place it in the most relevant category.

According to stated criteria for evaluation, the cost of $299.95 is five cents short of zero points, so the Best of the Web directory squeezes into one point on a nickel.

Reputable Practices - 10/10

The costs and placement policies of Best of the Web are clearly defined, with no hint of misrepresentation.

Extra Credit - 3/10

Best of the Web has an affiliate program that allows webmasters and Internet marketing people to earn money by referring customers to Best of the Web through affiliate links, offering 25% of all sales generated through the program. If, as I suspect it will, Best of the Web is in the top ten web directories reviewed here, I may participate in this program, as I do believe that a site listing in the Best of the Web directory, albeit somewhat on the expensive side, would have a positive effect on the site's placement in search engine results.

Overall Rating - 63/100

The Best of the Web Directory earned 63 of a possible 100 points.


Sixty-three out of a possible one hundred points doesn't look very good on the face of it, yet I believe that the Best of the Web directory will prove to be among the top ten directories, and quite likely in the top five.

As I noted in my review of the Aviva Directory earlier, I may have to tweak my evaluation criteria after the first round of web site reviews but, in all fairness, I have to continue to use the same criteria until I have reviewed all of the web directories that I will consider here. Otherwise, a fair comparison would be impossible.

If I were a student, I would be disappointed in a grade of 63 on a test, but if everyone in the class received less than 70, I wouldn't feel so bad.

When I have completed the first round of reviews, I will highlight those directories that were in the top ten. In that respect, you might consider that I will be grading on a curve.


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