JoeAnt

The JoeAnt web directory was reviewed for Web Directory Reviews Org on June 14 and June 15, 2014.

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JoeAnt has been among our top ten since we began publishing directory reviews in the first quarter of 2013, coming in #5. In the second quarter, it came in #8, as it did in the third and fourth quarters, as well as the first quarter of 2014. Whenever a directory makes it into our top ten, we enter it into competition again the following quarter, along with the other directories in the top ten as well as ten additional directories.

Other than DMOZ, JoeAnt is perhaps the most successful volunteer directory projects. Plans for the directory was formed in 1999 after editors with Disney's portal, Go.com, learned that Disney was shutting down its volunteer web directory. JoeAnt went online in May of 2001, primarily staffed with former Go Guides.

Its Moz Domain Authority is 60/100, and the Page Authority of its index page is 66/100. Its Page MozRank is 6.77 and its Page MozTrust is 6.04. Its Majestic SEO Trust Flow is 48, and its Citation Flow is 41.

The cost for submitting a site to JoeAnt is a one-time fee of $39.99, but its submission form encourages submitters to become editors, and it's okay to add your own site as long as the directory's guidelines are followed.

When I review directories for Web Directory Reviews Org, I try to view them from the perspective of a directory user rather than as a site submitter or search engine optimization professional, at least for the purpose of my ratings, with the simple assumption that a directory should be capable of directing someone to something useful. This means that there has to be content, and that the content has to be organized in such a manner that it can be found, while recognizing that there are a lot of ways that this can be done.

As with the others that I have looked at, JoeAnt will be evaluated and rated in five general areas: aesthetics (10%), content (25%), intuitiveness (20%), quality (20%), and usefulness (25%). I may also add up to five additional points for extra content not usually found in web directories. My criteria changes somewhat from quarter to quarter, so a directory won't necessarily rate the same from one quarter to the next. All right, let's see what we have.

Aesthetics - 6/10

The general appearance of the JoeAnt directory hasn't changed much since early 2007, although it is taking up more of the horizontal real estate on the screen now, taking on its current look sometime in 2009.

The look and feel of JoeAnt is pleasant, but then I'm a sucker for pastels. Everything on its index page is above the fold on the screen, and I'm partial to that, as well. Its main menu consists of fifteen upper-level categories, arranged in three columns of five each.

The appearance of the main menu might be improved if its columns were centered within the menu box, rather than left justified. The last five times I reviewed JoeAnt, I hadn't noticed that so I don't know how big of a deal that is.

JoeAnt's upper-level category names are asymmetrical, with seven of them consisting of one word, seven of two words joined with an ampersand, and one with two words. The effect of this on the aesthetics of the directory is minimized by the amount of white space between the columns, however.

Internal pages display advertising banners above and below the listings.

Content - 21/25

As a means of determining the comparative amount of content included in the directory, I scan each directory with a program named Scrutiny, which determines the total number of links found, flagging those that are bad. Since Scrutiny does not differentiate between outgoing category links and internal links, such as navigational links, this is not an accurate reflection of the number of outgoing links that a directory has, but it is useful in the way of comparison.

Scrutiny found 139,559 links. According to my evaluation criteria, that would put it in the 20-22 point range.

Intuitiveness - 16/20

JoeAnt's taxonomy, particularly at the upper levels, is fairly standard and easy enough for anyone to figure out. The directory does not use @links or above and below the line features, although it does utilize See Also links. Where there are no links listed directly under a category, JoeAnt returns results that use the category name as a keyword, which is a nice touch.

Listed sites are rated by an editor, and given from one to three stars, and sorted accordingly within the category. There are pros and cons to this approach. When the rating editor has chosen well, there may be an advantage to the better sites appearing first. Otherwise, the disadvantage might be that useful sites may be overlooked due to poor choices, or differing tastes among editors.

Searches return, not only sites whose titles or descriptions match the keyword or key phrases used, but also the editor rating of each results, and the features (audio, chat, downloads, games, shopping, video) that it offers, as well as whether membership is required, and whether it is an editor site, since sites belonging to editors are marked as such. The category (topic) that each result is listed in is also given.

I have to question some of the results, however. For example, when I search on the keyword "directory," the second result returned is to Paint Depot USA, which is not a directory, and does not contain the word in either its title or description. In fact, more than half of the sites listed on the first page of the results appear to be wholly unrelated to the search term. On the other hand, a search on "North Dakota" returns much more favorable results.

Quality - 15/20

Although JoeAnt's submission guidelines call for complete sentences, the majority of its descriptions use sentence fragments; limited to thirty words, they tend to be on the skimpy side, and several use the domain name as a site, rather than the actual title. I found no promotional language or misspellings, and the majority of its descriptions were reasonably descriptive, despite limitations.

It is clear that the majority of JoeAnt's listings were added by editors rather than submitted to the directory through its paid option, and I know that they still have an active crew of editors, albeit perhaps small.

Scrutiny found a lot of bad links, and most of those that I spot-checked were indeed bad.

Usefulness - 19/25

The JoeAnt directory includes enough outgoing directory links to be useful for its intended purpose, and it is sufficiently well organized so as to allow its content to be found. Descriptions are briefer than I would like, by far, but they are reasonably descriptive.

I didn't come across any empty categories in its topical section, but its By Region section is devoid of much content. I would think that someone browsing its By Region tree would be disappointed in the lack of content in that part of the directory. In the JoeAnt directory, the By Region section is intended to include only those sites that serve a specific region, which is different from the regional categories in other general directories.

JoeAnt does not use category descriptions, which is a significant lack. Category descriptions are a standard feature in most web directory scripts and, when used properly, they serve to aid both directory users and submitters, as well as providing textual content for the purpose of search engine optimization.

While there are some problems with its search features, on certain searches, for most searches it works quite well. Longer descriptions would probably improve the efficiency of its search, as well. Its inclusion of various features found in listed sites is a plus, and in some part makes up for what is lacking in its site descriptions.

Extra Content - 1

Although mentioned within other sections of this review, JoeAnt's rating system and inclusion of the various features of listed sites are things not found in most other directories. Recognizing the difficulties in maintaining an active volunteer directory, I'll give it an extra point for that.

Overall Rating - 78%

I reviewed the JoeAnt directory for Web Directory Reviews Org on Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15, 2014. On the basis of that evaluation, I rated it at seventy-eight percent.

Comments

Although I haven't calculated the results yet, I believe that JoeAnt's rating will have earned it a place in our top ten again this quarter. This is fitting, as it is one of the better directories on the Internet.

If you have ever thought of becoming a web directory editor, I can tell you that, while my wife and I have in large part earned our living through web directories for more than a decade, it is becoming increasingly tough. Still, it has been a satisfying experience, even when I was editing for free for the Open Directory Project (now DMOZ), Go.com, and Zeal. Please consider registering for an account with JoeAnt, and try your hand as an editor.

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